African gays, who often face persecution in the streets and sometimes prosecution in courts, have a simple plea for Pope Francis ahead of his first visit to the continent: bring a message of tolerance even if you will not bless our sexuality.
Francis travels to Kenya and Uganda, where many conservative Christians bristle at the idea of the West forcing its morality on them, especially when it comes to gays and lesbians. He also visits conflict-torn Central African Republic.
“We should not be discriminated against,” said Keith. His message to the pope: “Tell the congregation that being gay is normal and so we deserve our rights, equal rights.”
While gays feel ostracised by the Catholic church's teachings, Africa's evangelical protestant preachers are often among the most strident opponents of homosexuality.
Frank Mugisha, director of Sexual Minorities Uganda and one of the country's most outspoken advocates for gay rights, said he hoped the Pope would bring a message that gays and lesbians should be "treated like any other children of God."
"If he starts talking about rights, then Ugandans are going to be very defensive," said Mugisha, a Catholic. "But I would think if the Pope was here and talking about love, compassion and equality for everyone, Ugandans will listen."
U.S. President Barack Obama, whose father was Kenyan, likened discrimination against gays to racism, speaking during a recent visit to Kenya, where about a third of the population is Catholic.
Francis' ascent to the papacy in 2013, replacing the more conservative Pope Benedict, has heartened gay Africans. They welcomed Francis' comment early in his papacy that: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?"