Monday, January 29, 2007

Gay Community in Uganda

Last Sunday I was in a bar talking with one friend, a gay friend. His new year resolution was to end 'bar friendships'. I laughed at him when he told me.

But he was serious.'It is high time we started really knowing one another as Kuchus (gay Ugandans). Time to end superficial acquaintanceships. Time to make real friends.'

A great idea. And a very good positive development.

I have many gay friends. More 'bar acquaintances' than friends. But I do have friends amongst them. People we have invited home for a dinner or such. A far cry from the time when all were guys one knew at the bar, and had no idea of the real names. The closet is a terrible thing.

Kuchu community in Uganda is growing by leaps and bounds. People are getting out of the closets. They are affirming what they are. They are organising. They are coming up with self-help schemes and projects.

Seems like yesterday that I was looking for other gay people in Uganda. Had to search the net till I landed a true hit. Then I was dreaming up the Gay Uganda Website- with a theme that reflected my heart felt cry at the time. 'You are not alone- We are many.'

When I first got tired of the party scene and told an acquaintance that I was actually on the look out for a long term relationship, he laughed at me. We were in a bar that we frequented then. About 20 gay guys. I am (not) promiscuous(!). I had slept with only about 5 of the people in the bar. He had slept with most, and was angling for my scalp.

'Kuchus', he informed naive me, 'Kuchus do not form relationships. I don’t know of any couples.' He was disdainful in his superior knowledge of Kuchu community in Kampala.

Indeed, later, my partner and I used to be the token 'Gay Couple of the year' for a few years running.

But that was then. Now, we are not the only couple on the scene. Guys, (and girls) are moving into solid relationships. And doing well. Guess my friend was not right about what Kuchus are capable of.

It’s a good vibe. What was not possible before is tantalisingly probable now. A gay lawyer friend once laughed at me when I talked about Gay Rights in Uganda. But that is something that more gay Ugandans are more sensitive about now. We even have a lending library with Gay themed movies circulating. And they are not porn.

Maybe, just maybe, I will have the pleasure of leading my love down the aisle during my lifetime in Uganda.

Now, that would be beautiful.


Bruce said...

An anonymous comment to your last post complained that your lamenting the condition of gays in Uganda was doing nothing to change social attitudes towards gays. You were, of course, correct in reminding him that you frequently speack in a very positive way of your sexual orientation and your relationship.

This new post of yours does even more to answer "anonymous's" complaint. You have obviously been active in urging gay people in Uganda to live normal lives, to eschew gay stereotypes, and to come out of the closet when possible.

The best way to change society's attitude toward gay people is by not being afraid to show our own humanity. We have no hope of gaining social acceptance if society never sees us in action, if the straights don't see that we are not a group of sex crazed exotics, but people like everyone else, who make friends, support each other, and fall in love.

This is not to say that we have to uniformly conform to the rules of straight society. But at least a fair number of people will have to come to the surface as gays and show people that we are essentially just like everyone else.

There are, of course, no guarantees that this tactic will work. More gays coming out of the closet and demanding their human rights, supporting each other as gay men and women, may not make even the slightest dent in Ugandan homoiphobia. It may even promote a backlash.

But one thing is for sure; if gay men and women in Uganda don't demand their rights, they won't get them. Politically and socialy, no group has ever gotten their rights without asking for them (or taking them).

The developments you describe are at least a good sign. a sign of hope and progress. I have an idea that you have had something to do with encouraging this development. Congratulations and best wishes.

gayuganda said...

You know, being positive about the gay situation in a country like Uganda is a bit like trying to be positive in Baghdad, Iraq with the bombs exploding. But one can try!
There are things to be positive about, or else we can be stuck in the lamentation rut. But we cannot also hide from what is wrong, and shade some tears about it.
We have to come out of the terrible confines of the closet where we are self deluded concerning our own happiness. I am thankful that I have been able to do something, simply by being myself, gay and Ugandan. There is lots more to do. Lots and lots more. But all men who now walk started by stumbling on their feet. We will get there. Someday.

DeTamble said...

Five of them?!? :-o And how long did that take you? I hope it took you longer than a year, otherwise that's just slutty! :-D

Anonymous said...

wud man be present if the whole world was gay

Anonymous said...

i am a straight guy and am fine with the gay community, i have this friend of mine she is gay and happy thou her community has disowned her, her parents have disowned her and sent out of the family, she is my good friend and her partner cannot support her as well coz she fears her family will dissown her as well, so as a friend i cannot bring her to stay with me at my place because my GF will not accept that idea.... this gal is out there and needs some help.... please get back to me with a way out of helping my friend here. i will be grateful here is my email address for yo response

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