NPR

Gay, Out And On The Airwaves In Kinshasa

Patou Izai wanted to challenge the negative comments about the LGBTI community in the Democratic Republic of Congo — and create a space for dialogue. So he started a radio show.
Patou Izai stands on the roof above the office of the radio show he produces in Kinshasa, capital of Democratic Republic of Congo, for the LGBTI community. Source: Christopher Clark for NPR

Sitting at his desk in a stuffy office with a rainbow flag hanging behind him, 31-year-old Patou Izai says it takes a lot of courage to come out as gay in Kinshasa, the sprawling capital city of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Although this vast, volatile Central African nation does not have the harsh anti-gay laws adopted by neighbors such as Uganda, deeply ingrained conservative cultural norms routinely stigmatize, silence and lead to physical threats against LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people.

"You're basically excluded from society," Izai says. "This means that very, very few LGBTI people are open about their sexual orientation. They

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