Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Chance to Love

I woke up today coiled into my lover’s warm body. Took some time like that, appreciating the beauty of the moment. Love is an incredible feeling. It is not just the sex, though that is part of it. It is also the feeling of trust in another human being. Appreciating him for what he is, trusting that you can love him, in spite of all the constraints that there may be in the whole world. Trusting that you and him, together can build a niche of reality in a world that may at times be hostile, at times loving.

It is not easy. Ours is a gay love, a homosexual love. And we have taken time to come to it, and have worked on it to be as it is.
It is incredible growing up in a country like Uganda. When one is gay, a homo, as most term us, one has to come to an understanding of oneself. I had to learn that I was a normal human being. That my feeling of attraction for other men was not just a passing phase. I had to come to a realisation that, to be happy, I should not deny myself the chance to be me. It has been a long process, for both of us. Learning not to hate ourselves, learning to live in the gay community, choosing to live together, risking outing ourselves on a daily basis in a very homophobic society. There are many gay Ugandans who will choose not to do what we have done. Many will choose to hide in a marriage with an opposite sex partner. It works well, especially if you happen to be bi. Maybe it would have worked for me. I am fairly sure it would not have worked for my partner. Or, many of us choose clandestine, ephemeral, fly-by-night relationships. They are easy and quick to come by, with partners who may just be curious, or like us, or just for the money, or another motivation. I love what Ugandan men look like. It could have been that, but we both chose love and companionship, and it has been lovely. It continues to be lovely.

Forbidden love
It is a forbidden love. On a daily basis, as often as we can, we unite in that act of confirmation that, if convicted, would land the both of us in prison for 14 years to life. A life sentence for loving my man. A life sentence for sharing my love with him.
It is a fact of life. Thank god prosecutions are so few, maybe because it is not so easy to prove!
Yet there is always the sceptre of discovery. I cannot tell my parents. I cannot tell my family. I cannot tell the rest of the village, my community. The Cardinal speaks out against my love, the Archbishop is ready to break with others of his church who affirm that I can love, Parliament has written into the constitution a prohibition to our companionship. It is possible for our community to lynch us for what we are, if they discover it. And the police, (if they don’t let them do it), we may have to bribe our way out.

Love nonetheless
Yet we still love one another. In spite of everything. We fight sometimes, and make up. We sometimes lack, sometimes have. Sometimes we risk much, other times we take it as a matter of fact. Life is very short. To us it has been given a chance to love, and we have taken it. We have thumbed our noses at society, and we are revelling in this love. Love, an incredible feeling. That closeness, that romanticism, that trust, that belief in a life and happiness in the midst of any tribulation. That willingness to be together in trust.
I see it, in part, like we are affirming our human-ness. In spite of those who would say we are less than human. We love, and loving each other, we face the world


Thursday, December 28, 2006

An African LGBT Perspective

A reader commented that this blog provides an ‘African lgbt perspective on the turmoil within the Anglican Communion over homosexuality and the repression of LGBT people on the African continent’.
It is unintentional on my part. It is true that it is rare that the voice of the African LGBT is heard. The cost can be very severe. Stigma is a huge issue, the stigma of being a pariah in your own community. We are there, but we are not heard.

Unfortunately, what is heard are the voices which insist that ‘homosexuality is un-African’, or such ridiculous things like there are no homosexuals in Africa (it was the president of my country who said that. Wish I could show him the Gay Uganda Website). Personally, I am partly fueled by a sense of anger. There are too many ridiculous lies talked about Gay Africans. We are present. We are. The reason why we are not heard is the fact that we have some very severe laws against our very existence. Yet it is also because our leaders insist on denying us our humanity.

The Rt Rev Akinola springing back from touching a homosexual person’s hand is characteristic. Homosexuals are worse than pigs and dogs (Mugabe, Zimbabwe), do not exist in Uganda (Museveni), and so Africans are the 'worthy' leaders in the current schism in the Anglican Communion.

What is not so widely known is the fact that there are voices of dissent. In Nigeria, there is a Changing Attitude chapter which is active. In Uganda, the one Ugandan bishop who attended Lambeth 2 was ‘defrocked’ (I think is the word), because he would not endorse the thinking of the rest of the Church of Uganda. I saw a letter to him from the Archbishop Luke Orombi, addressing the Bishop Emeritus of Buganda the Rt. Reverend Dr Ssenyonjo as plain Ssenyonjo, forbidding him the right to hold a service in the province. Archbishop Desmond Tutu thought it all very ‘unchristian’- the schism.

To me, Ssenyonjo and Tutu are very Christ-like figures. I would not dream of emulating ++Akinola. And Archbishop Orombi of the Uganda Province is another I see as a shepherd throwing sheep to the wolves, in the interest of ‘biblical’ Christianity. I am sorry if I say I can never think of the Christ of the Bible throwing one sheep to the wolves.

They deny us our African identity, attempt to deny our spirituality and throw us out of church, and support laws that make it impossible for us to give our point of view. I write with anger on my mind. It fuels the speedy thoughts, and makes me want to lash out, forgetting the many other things that are positive.

I am alive, I am gay, a homosexual, the kind that the Rt. Rev. Akinola had never met, till he went to New York. (And then he could not touch his hand!)

I live in homophobic Uganda, with my partner of years, and though I am not able to get married to him as we would love to, I can still say that I am love him and I have not been denied my chance at loving a fellow human being.

Those are blessings that I will hold on to, that I will remember, even as the new year nears. We have been through this year, we will get through another; God willing. Ishallah!


Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Akinola Christ-like?

I have been seeing this article bandied about. And I thought it is due a quick question.

Is this Christ like?

What does it show of the man Akinola?

Well, it is hard to say, but-
  • He has met few homosexuals. (No, excuse the correction. He has met few admitted homosexuals.) why does he fight them so much?
  • He strongly believes that touching a homosexual would taint him. With what?

    To him, he is fighting the admittance of some lesser humans into a congregation of humans
But the one thing which struck me most when I first read the article was this thought. Would you have found Jesus dead springing back from touching a sinner? This is the guy who was famously censured for 'eating with sinners.' Well, remember that the Archbishop of Uganda told the one of Canterbury that he could not sit down with the Archbishop of the US church.

These are mighty interesting Christians!

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Christian and LGBT? Stand up and Be Counted

I am a Ugandan. And I happen to be gay. That part of my identity is just that- a part of my human-ness. Yet there is a danger that in the eyes of the world, it seems to define me.
That is what is happening in the Anglican church. I am not an Anglican, nor a Christian. Yet as an African, and a Ugandan, my spirituality is so persuasively a part of my environment that I cannot deny its influence. I am a spiritual person. Many of my country mates, some homosexual, identify as Christian, many as Anglican.
That is why the current schism in the Anglican communion is of interest to me.
It is also of interest because they are at war, civil war, and the battle grounds are defined by my sexuality, a part of my identity that I have just affirmed as part of me, but not the whole of me.

Hate groups?

Hate is a strong word. Christians want to be identified by its contrast, love. But hate is being dressed up as love. I have been cruising the blogs of world opinion. A lot of what is being said of Anglicans and homosexuality, and I cant help noticing distinct groups.
One I call hate groups. They are very common, they are the most vocal. They are not talking about human beings. They are talking about ‘homosexuals’, ‘sodomites’. They believe the litmus test for any human being is whether he or she supports their view that homosexuals are out to thrash the world. The Rt. Rev. Akinola reports how he sprung back after being informed that he had just shaken the hand of a homosexual. It was like he had touched a leper. Same insinuation. Less love. From the leader of millions of ‘Christians’. Think of Jesus keeping his hands away from touching a sinner.
These hate groups support any measure against the ‘Homosexual Agenda’. They are loud, vocal, and see no problem with taking basic human rights from homosexuals in the name of ‘Biblical’ christianity. Ask the Rev Akinola about his views on the recent gay bill in the Nigerian Parliament. It should technically be impossible for two gay people to meet in Nigeria and shake hands after that bill is law. Even HIV prevention will be impossible. You just cant legally meet a homosexual!
According to Agape news, it is ok to bully school children suspected of being gay. It is a small price because some will not become homosexuals.
The language is bitter. There is no compromise, no call to logic. The only logic that is seen is the scripture. The church is bleeding.

Love groups?
Yet, Christ’s body, being Christ’s body, has that grain of love that still draws people to it. There are other Christians who believe homosexuality is wrong. And they are holding out the hand of love and care to the ‘wrong’ homosexual.
Frankly, the rabid hate groups don’t scare me. Their hate is so virulent that, like Akinola, their sheep’s clothing of Family Christianity’ are ill fitting. The love groups are more likely to draw in the unwary and homosexual and convince him or her that he is wrong. Yet they can be reasoned with.

LGBT Christians
Yet there are Christians who are gay. I admire these guys; because they are standing like a stone determined to reverse the welling tide of hate. They are determined to claim their spirituality, their place at Christ’s table. They will not deny themselves their sexual orientation. And at the same time they will not deny or reject their faith. It is also a part of their identity and they affirm it. (One, Two)
LGBT Christians are crucial. They are the very essence of virtue that hate groups have to deny.
For the wounds of the ever bleeding Church to be patched, LGBT Christian have to stand out and be counted. When I came to myself as a homosexual, I got this tremendous relief, this assuarance that I had stared self hatred in the face and I had won. The victory was mine.
The LGBT Christian, standing up and winning in the face of this hate is given. Because hate has that virulence which is self consuming. And love is an over whelming wave when we learn to embrace it. Let the LGBT Christian stand up and affirm himself, herself. There is yet hope for the Church, maybe just because its foundation is love.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

Alone in th Chrowd in Uganda

Yesterday, I went to see a friend. He is gay. He lives and works about 30km from Kampala. And he is lonely.
Being gay in Uganda has its great things- especially if you have your own crowd. But being gay and alone is a peculiar kind of loneliness. I have experienced it, when I was coming out (to myself), and later when I was struggling to come get to know other people out there. That is what caused me to first build the site, translating my loneliness into the motto 'you are not alone, we are many'.
It is not a need for sex, though that may mean a great deal. It is being with the mass of others, when you cannot say anything about what is on your mind. It is noting a guy who attracts you, and you check yourself not to blurt out your appreciation. It is walking the tight rope of conforming, as others talk about opposite sex conquests. It is coming to terms with others significant events; the weddings, marriages and their marital challenges. It is not knowing what may act to out you, and what may not.
My friend is studying. He has been out to himself for some time, and he is relatively comfortable with what he is. But upon a time, he walked the edge of exposure. He was distraught when some 'well meaning' friends threatened to tell the world about his presumed sexual orientation. Telling his world that he is homosexual would have meant loss of job, possibly his position in school, and a rejection from the people that he calls relatives. He stared that in the face and balked, was distressed. Luckily, it cooled down, but not before he had been forced into an engagement of sorts. Engaged to be married, an engagement that his friends went ahead to broadcast to the whole world to save him from the taint and rumour of being a homosexual.
There is always an unconscious siege mentality to the person who lives in this kind of situation. You are constantly monitoring yourself, and it becomes second nature. But it does not take away the loneliness. Paradoxically, if you are able to get a lover, the conditions may make that love very precious, because it has to be so hidden from the world.
Today, I heard on one of the FM stations that the catholic archbishop of Kampala was condemning South Africa for having legalised homosexual marriages. I realised that the man himself does not understand much about what it is to be gay. He is horrified by the idea of a man loving another man, and a woman loving another woman. And he does not understand the official Catholic church point of view! I remembered my friend, alone out in the countryside. That kind of news is very common. To most Ugandans, it is another churchman condemning a vice. To the gay Ugandan, it is his church elders condemning him for what he is. And demonstrating that they do not understand what a homosexual is. Apart from thinking of him as the lowest of sinners.
Time out on all this counting of our curses. I am gay, and I am a Ugandan. If I lie back and start counting all the bad things that can or might happen to me, I will not only spoil my day, I will also leave you with the impression that being gay in Uganda is impossible. I know that it is not. I have just left my lover in bed. Indeed we had some wonderful time of intimacy. We make love as often as we can and we have not yet figured out how that will hurt another Ugandan. Until we do, we have promised ourselves to enjoy this most impressive times of physical intimacy and communion.
We are planning for the round of parties and Christmas cheer, and if you have someone that is dear to you, wish him or her a beautiful season.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Why So much Hate of Homosexuals?

Have been cruising blogs; simple thing when you have a crawler like google alerts doing it for you. One thing that I have been struck with is that even if there may be a homosexual agenda out there (ahem, I am gay, but I am not yet convinced of that!), there is no doubt, at least to me, that there is a definite homophobic agenda out there. What unites is homophobia. And that is the rallying call. But why? The ordinary person in the street is not really hate filled. I mean, a thief will be lynched in Kampala if the police do not get to him fast enough, but not a homosexual. And the average Ugandan may gossip about so and so being homosexual, but they will not get out there to do something about it. Until they are put to it by some people who are really convinced that homosexuality is something that is so evil that it must be protested. A sin worse than any other.

When the SA parliament legalized same sex marriage, it was something barely on the radar for most Ugandans. There were a few letters in the press condemning it, much talk and laughter and gossip, in a by-the-way kind of interest. And of course then Pastor Sempa went on his demonstration to the SA High Commission in Kampala, advocating a boycott of South African trade because they had passed a law legalizing same sex marriage.
Of course Sempa would say that he is not a hating kind of person, but he is the epitome of those who hold the view that homosexuality and homosexuals are a clear and present danger, and need to be confronted with weapons of mass destruction.

Is it hate?
What can I call it? Agape news advocates for children in school not to be defended if they are thought to be gay and bullied. I cannot imagine someone in his senses advocating for bullying like so, because I do have a horror of the hate that children can visit on one another. But someone with that power in his world goes out of his way to say that that is fine?
A politician has to pass the 'litmus' test of being anti-homosexual.
Archbishop Akinola of Nigeria is another interesting hater. Of course to him it is not hate; and I sincerely would not say that he should not exclude us gay people from his religion. That is what religion is; it is always an exclusive club, however one may think of it. But going to the extent of supporting a law that makes it a crime for two gay people to meet anywhere in Nigeria, and impossible for anyone to meet a gay person is extreme. He intimates that gay people are so bad that they should not be. They have no right to live, to be, to say they are. The only place they can be in Nigeria is in prison. Period.
So, is that hate or not?
Of course, such a single issue policy has interesting results. One just does not know how to deal with a person who is ambiguous. Who does not seem to fall in one camp or the other. Who will not hate just like you, and chastises you for your hate, calling it what it is.
That is what had me thinking on the subject of hate; a blog post from someone who is a Christian and is asking Christians why they are hating homosexuals. It is instructive; check out this gentlemans post here.


Starting this Blog

I have been blogging for a few days now. Created my first blog at my website, Gay Uganda, but soon realised that Yahoo's restriction to 'mature' content can be something to fear. I do not want to lose my blog and thougths and everything all at once, because someone thinks that I should not publish those thougths.
Anyway, I am going to do this. Post here, and at yahoo, in effect have 2, 3 identical blogs running, huh? Will be very interesting, keeping up with all.
But it is so interesting sharing my thoughts with the world that i do not think that I will be stopping any time soon.
Welcome to my blog. If you want to see older blogging thougths, go to my website Gay Uganda, or on my Yahoo 360 page, or anywhere that you think I am. I tend to fly through as an anonymous cyberspacer.