Saturday, August 4, 2018

Queer in Africa: Breaking news from Kapiri-Mposhi, Zambia



I used to take this for granted. The fear and need to hide. The expectation of guilt, self-guilting, just because I am gay, of anyone finding out that am gay. Then I became very depressed, then very angry. 
And lately, I had become complacent, because I am living in a bubble where I am apparently immune from these concerns.

So, you have met a like-minded man. Oh, you are a man. You love men. And in the lake of heterosexuals swimming around you, you have met this special other man. You have talked, and found that your minds gel. And, you want to have sex. Such a beautiful word for a beautiful action, the action of lust and pleasure and congress. No, you don’t want to force him. He is definitely not forcing you. You are anticipating pleasure, and walk besides him, with a spring in your step as you decide on the venue.

Almost a year ago, on 25th August 2017, this happened to Japhet Chataba, 38 a carpenter and resident of Ndeke compound in Kapiri Mposhi and Stephen Sambo, 30, planning officer at Ndola City Council.

They decided to get into a hotel/motel, whatever. We used to call them ‘lodges’, and they are very convenient for a safe tryst away from home where it might not be convenient, or safe. Yes, safe as in real physical rather than mental safe.

They had a good time.

Unfortunately, maybe in the heat of the moment, they didn’t draw closed the curtains in a window. An employee of the hotel, one righteous, upstanding lady of great presence, happened to glance in into the window of their hotel room.

She saw the ‘unthinkable’. Two men engaged in sex. Anal sex.

The outstanding member of community dragged (huh, okay, tipped them off, and they flew in eagerly), dragged in 4 other citizens of good standing to witness the act. Pictures, videos were taken, and, later the police was called.

What a nightmarish end to a time of beauty and mutual lust.

They were arrested. 

10 days later, they had to undergo the humiliating anal examination to ‘prove’ that they had been having anal sex. The ‘test’ is stupid…., and proves/disproves nothing, as the examining doctor pointed out.

In court yesterday, (3rd August 2018), prosecution proved that Chataba and Sambo had a ‘prima facie case to answer to. They didn’t enter a defence, and so were convicted, and are due sentencing. And, yeah, I don’t think they have been out of prison since they were arrested. No bail.

There goes all their life. Because they dared to act on what they are. On how they feel. 
They didnt hurt no one. They didnt even plan on being seen. Theirs was the sin of being different, being caught being different and thus obscene.

As I write this, I do have tears in my eyes. There but for the grace of the gods….

Some of us argue that we should not ask for striking off of the anti-gay laws from the books. That that demand/request is too inflammatory. That the laws are rarely used. That it inflames our country mates.

But, we are also citizens of the continent. Damn, we are human beings.
We need to self respect, and be safe from a concerned citizen seeing us having consensual sex and calling the police. We need to be safe from a loss of stature, livelihood, community standing and convicted of that huge, shameful, evil "act", namely making love and having sex.

Its for our very self respect that we challenge and stand up and say…., there is a limit to which the majority should denigrate us as a minority, to deny us the basic rights and instruments of a human being such as they are. For, if we continue accepting their take of things, we shall live and die in the unsafe dark, dirty, close closet that surrounds us everyday that we wake up to go work and earn a living.

Chatabo, Sambo. With you in pain. 

A Queer African

Thursday, May 18, 2017

This Gay Life

Its always tough.

Imagine, meeting someone that you synch with. For the moment or forever. You going back home, in a place that is safe for you, and for him. And you making love.

And, your neighbours, who have 'long suspected' that you are gay, breaking down the door, so that they can catch you making love. So that you can be shamed, and punished, for making love to another, your lover.

And your community going gaga about it. And you being paraded, and shamed, and brought to court, and convicted...., of lashes. Caned in public. All for the sin of loving another human being.

That is what this couple in Aceh, Indonesia are guilty of, and will be punished for. 
The couple was arrested in late March after neighborhood vigilantes in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, suspected them of being gay and broke into their rented room to catch them having sex. Cellphone video that circulated online and formed part of the evidence shows one of the men naked and visibly distressed as he apparently calls for help on his cellphone. The second man is repeatedly pushed by another man who is preventing the couple from leaving the room.
------
the men, aged 20 and 23, would each receive 85 lashes for having sexual relations. One of the men wept as his sentence was read out and pleaded for leniency.

It is ridiculous and tear jerking. In that hole, you wonder whether it could have been okay to know that you are gay, and different, that you love others, men, not women. Not that you want to rape them. But, you want to hold them in your hands, and tell them that they are beautiful, and want to touch, skin to skin, and breath in their breath, and touch their tongue with your tongue, and go into that total consummation of love, that is sex and the orgasm.

Is a moment when you can doubt yourself, doubt all that you are.

photo courtesy Hotli Simanjuntak/EPA

But that is what your people, your neighbors, family, people that you love, are condemning you to.

Isnt it unreasonable that we can hate ourselves, and think that we are liars and worse than that, that instead of coming out and braving the ostracism and castout status, we would hide and live a life of lies?

That is this gay life. Completely personal and ruthless in its ability to sway us and convince us of our simple stupidity.
The verdict will increase fear among LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people not only in Aceh but also in many other, especially conservative provinces . . . in Indonesia,” said the organisation’s Andreas Harsono.

Is a brave person that stands up and says, no. We are not that. That we can beat that. And, more than that, we can shorten and beat all that the world throws at us.

Because, we too, are human beings.

This gay life can be tough and rough, not least of all because those who matter to us most are the ones who can reject us more than the others.

gug

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Statistics.

Sometimes they are incomprehensible. Sometimes they are no more than numbers which those seeking to impress others throw out like 'pearls to pigs'?!!!
They do have meaning. Lots of meaning.

The LA times distills this report written for the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Assn. Its big, a pdf, and, well, sometimes we the lazy, or with the great excuse of information overload in this day and age can just scan...., so, the LAtimes summary does for us what we need...!

Here are the stats quoted on the website.

122:  The number of countries that allow homosexual acts between consenting adults
72:  The number of countries that outlaw it (same sex intercourse). 
25:  The number of countries where it is forbidden to form, establish or register a nongovernmental organization that focus on issues related to sexual orientation or LGBTQ rights. Almost two dozen other countries have laws aimed at curtailing public expression and promotion of being LGBTQ through social media or other means.

23:  The number of countries that allow same-sex marriage
 
26:  The number of countries that allow same-sex couples to adopt children that are not biological offspring of one of the partners.

9:  The number of countries, that specifically mention sexual orientation in their constitution as grounds for protection against discrimination.  

Definite case of the glass being half full.

 where we are coming from..., the whole world was a place that we hadnt thought livable. Now, due to the sacrifices, sweat and toil of many, queer and not so, we are at this point in time. With distinct gains to point at, but also some horrifying statistics and stories, like the gay pogrom in Chechnya now current.

So, what do we make of this?

As queer Ugandans say, Aluta Continua. The struggle indeed goes on. And, it is an interesting one to be part of.

Indeed, freedom is precious, especially to those aware of the price it demands.
Yet bondage, mental or physical, real or implied, a cage of the mind or for the body, is so onerous a condition that we indeed fight on, for nothing other than to be accepted as queer human beings.

gug

Monday, May 15, 2017

Reminder to One's Self

I write because I love to do it.

To vent, to shout, to toss of some restless energy that is within me, demanding that somehow, somewhere, I can pour it off somehow. And that, in the big, hollow all-sucking black hole that is the cyber space, it might sink or float, whatever the case maybe.

Yes, of course I do want it to float, because sometimes the things that I write about matter a lot, life or death issues, but the therapeutic effect of the writing to me is part of why I write. And even when it sinks into the very void of the black hole, I, at least have unburdened myself. At least a little bit.

And, with time, I can also learn to do much more than write. Because writing demands of us a bit more. Having a temper and burning anger to write also demands that you pose answers as well as the questions, presenting a point of view, radical or conservative, but some answers to the questions that I ask of others and the wild, wide world that I live in. Because, I am a human being. More or less, I am that.

I also write to keep my hand in the morass and pie that is our world. Sometimes we forget, we all live in a cocoon. And, in the pursuit of life and livelihood, we miss the wider world out there. So, I look things up, and get amazed, or happy, or angered and cold. But, I break out of the cocoon of my existence, and open my eyes to the wide world around me.

That in itself is a great incentive. To break through the walls of the tunnel that I have all around me, the necessities, the urgent, breaking bad things. And also the need to rest and be confortable, the ability to get past my 'confort zone' to a place of unreliable, swinging winds. That, that's also why I write.

And, to deny myself of this positive pleasure on the excuse of being too busy, or too sick, or too old, or too bushed....., that is an excuse that I have leaned upon too much.

The reed is broken. It stabbed me in the hand, and the wound is weeping for now.
But, that is nothing for me to cry home about. That wound will heal. And, more than just healing, the scar will be a reminder of the many things that complacency can drag us down into.

As my people, queer Africans and queer Ugandans say,

Aluta Continua.

gug

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Writers Block and the Same old Ignorance

Writers Block.

And the cure is not to stare at the white sheet. Why did they have to make the sheet paper white? Why not come up with a sexier, trendier, more acceptable choice...., lol. Maybe I have a chance to change it? Haven't checked.

Just been reminded that gay rights are fragile. In Trump's America, of course that is quiet likely to be the norm...., even after marriage equality. So, the fight continues... Nay, we havent had the kind of clout to make us 'normalised', so, not a resistance, but guerilla warfare.

Conservative Uganda.....!!!

Just came across an article that gave me a huge belly laugh. See, this (once homophobic) Ugandan singer was recording a new video, and he was caught in the act having lip balm being applied to him.
In most other countries, one would look at this photo and think, lol, the dude is a hunk., isnt he?

Not in Uganda.
Comments included..., "i really wonder what kind man u r" and "u gay lipstick .... REALLY?" and "... in all the pics u could post u choose this one..., acting like a gay!!!"

Hahaha!

Really.

To my angered ugandan countrymates, male and female...., that is lip balm.... LOL. And, in most places it is not worthy commenting. Hey, makeup is applied during video shoots!!! And of course quite a lot of emancipated men apply lip balm without thinking it an attack on their masculinity. Seriously??!!!

But of course underlying that perception of disgust is the prejudice against homosexuality. It manifests in many petty things, and of course encases brains in resistant ignorance. Impenetrable.

So, I know am not going to teach anyone who is teachable here, but, I will laugh well.

Ugandans are the typical ignoramus, in things in anyway coming to link to my sexuality (and I am a gay Ugandan). Just the typical, ignorant and sadly unreachable homophobe.

And you know the challenge? We must reach them, win them over, hearts and minds, as Gay Ugandans and Queer africans.

Way to go!!!

gug

Monday, March 13, 2017

Queer is Normal; Get over it.

Hi.

Long time, I know.

Finding it tough to keep up......, but, when it is a long journey, taking a breather is okay. You rest, by the side of the road. You look at the cars zooming by, you wonder what it would be like if you were in one of the other vehicles. You toy with the idea of giving up..., and then you dont. You then get up and walk. Again. Or limp. Or crawl.

But, yeah, you do.

I am gay...., a Queer African. But, on the surface, you wouldnt know it if you met me on the streets of Kampala. I am as smart, or scruffy, as the streets I move on. Indistinguishable from the rest of my countrymates on the continent. Of course, in some places, my skin might be a bit lighter, or darker...., but that is no marker of my sexuality.

So, why the hell do judges of the world continue asking us to 'prove' that we are gay? I mean, I like sex as much as the next man, and get me one in the right circumstances, am quite ready to prove it...., if you know what I mean.

But, but....

How do I prove that to some people out there, some stranger who has never known what it is to be who and what I am...? Granted, coming out is a problem, but, can you imagine being deported from a country and it becomes known, in a country like Uganda that you had actually said that you were gay?

Anyway, this Ugandan is facing that challenge. He failed, of course. And after failing, today he might be on the plane back.

Tut tut tut...., how do straight people prove that they are straight? Just a question.

Here is some 'good' advice in a newspaper in Kenya. I say good, because, Kenya is known for its 'tolerant' attitude to homosexuality..., but that is because Uganda and Tanzania are neighbours. The advice is kind of mild..., at least there is advocacy not to beat the gay out of us...., but, the level of ignorance of human sexuality is really bad.
"In February this year, a school at the Coast was in the headlines when 12 of its students were sent home for lesbianism. The school principal was quoted saying she had asked the girls to fetch their parents in order to enable them receive joint counselling. 
In essence the 'counselling' involved severe beating from the parents and teachers, to prevent them from becoming psychollogically affected (by their lesbian behaviour). This mindset is understandable because in Africa, unlike the West, homosexuality is viewed as a mental illness."
Now, that is the more 'liberal' part of Africa.

These kids. Were they even gay? Or where they just kids experimenting? But, the kind school principal outed them to their parents, labelled them, and as the newspaper indicated, more likely than not they would get a great hiding...., according to the parents...., and they would of course be scarred for life.

The rest of the counselling is predictable.. Homosexuality is a disease...., instead of kids being led thru some confusion, they are pushed into closets or cut off from family. Stigmatised.

And nothing can become more cutting than the rejection of our big families. For, to many Africans, family is everything.

Or, there is always the shadow of 'therapy', from the traditional or 'Christian/Moslem' healers...., or quack conventional practitioners. 

We are normal, we queer Africans.

And, that is the greatest struggle that we have to fight. The knowledge that, after all that we have faced, we are still normal human beings.

We queer Africans are normal. Now, who in Africa dares think so?

gug

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

All the Haters.....

We are Queer, and we are Africans....

And, lots of our brethren are haters. Pure, haters.... And, that is quite mild.
So, you know that FIFA has this 'non-discrimination' article in its constitution. FIFA as in the international soccer federation. The corrupt guys....
And, dear Zambia had to sign and say they wouldnt discriminate against GayZambians in soccer, football as we call it on the continent. And, believe it or not, the 'church' is mad about that. 
Former FAZ executive committee member Masha Chilemena told AFP: “Zambia is a Christian nation and any instructions from FIFA which will conflict with Christianity are not welcome.” 
He insisted that the association “cannot go against what is stipulated in the law of the land” and that if FIFA were to take action against FAZ over the issue then “we will play in the local league”. 
International Federation of Christian Churches president Simon Chihana also told AFP that the draft constitution was “inviting the wrath of God” and warned that it would “bring the happenings of Sodom and Gomorrah here”

What can I say but that they are 'haters' as defined by the Generation X...!!

But, that is okay..., because there are others where they cannot be answered, except with frowns of incredulity.

This is in Tanzania. And, the haters happen to be the Ministry of Health. And, against gay Tanzanians. The private health centers where they could receive HIV treatment have been stopped from providing HIV services. Because they 'promote homosexuality'
On Thursday, the government announced it was stopping many private health centers from providing AIDS-related services, accusing them of providing services to homosexuals. 
"We have suspended the provision of HIV and AIDS services at at least 40 drop-in centers operated by NGOs countrywide, after it was established that the centers were promoting homosexuality, which is against Tanzania's laws," Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said in a press conference. 
Last year, Mwalimu said it was estimated that 23 percent of men who have sex with men in Tanzania were living with HIV/AIDS. 

So, aren't they haters? Of course they are.

I dont mince words to people who use their powers to try make sure that gay people dont get HIV treatment.

So, to all the haters...

But, they are hurting my people. Queer Africans like me.

I cry.

gug