The quest for belonging among male sex workers and hustlers in Nairobi

Authored by: Naomi van Stapele

Routledge Handbook of Queer African Studies

Print publication date:  December  2019
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138503472
eBook ISBN: 9781351141963
Adobe ISBN:


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Away from popular views in Kenya, which often juxtapose gender and sexuality practices between cisgender gay male sex workers and straight male hustlers, this chapter explores the similarities between the ways in which these men try to adhere to particular masculine ideals to claim belonging. 1 The sex workers in this study all identified as sex workers, yet most young men in this research who engaged in (petty) crime identified as “hustlers” and not as criminals. To them, a hustler is someone who takes on all kinds of income-generating activities to survive in a context where dominant legal frameworks do not apply. In this chapter, I follow their self-determination and use “hustler” instead of derogatory labels such as “criminal” or, worse, “gang member.”

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