Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Is it worth it?

Yesterday morning, when I was going through my mail, and I saw this appeal from IGLHRC, I was moved. Yes, I appreciate the fact that I live in a country that is deeply unappreciative of my sexuality. But there are some which are worse.

That a guy of 21 should be sentenced to death for some acts of sex when he was 13 was extremely troubling to me. My sense of justice was outraged. Sincerely, common humanity and a sense of justice would stop a country from carrying out this kind of thing, whether in the name of god or not! Then, someone, ssB commented that I was over-blowing things. My sense of the pathetic went into overdrive. I accused the Islamic Republic of genocide.

Of course I have no evidence of what I wrote. Yet at the same time, the logic is not far off course. To accept that there are homosexuals in Iran is to cast doubt on no less an authority than its seating president! And the fact is that, homosexuals have been hanged regularly in Iran since the Islamic Revolution.

But I was struck by ssB’s sense that I was overly dramatic. Maybe I am. Or maybe I misunderstood what he or she meant.

Is it worth it fighting for gay rights in Uganda? Trying to convince people that what I am demanding is normal? Insisting that I am a normal human being?

The price is high. But the alternative is too costly.

Recently an acquaintance, a kuchu (gay Ugandan) died suddenly. I remember when we last talked, it was soon after the Red rug came out with the names of those that were presumed to be gay. His name was there. He was not happy. He went deeper into the closet. He had had a very unhappy experience being outed before, so he really feared this kind of scenario. But he was a natural prey. A man who was known to be or rumoured to be gay, with a standing in society which was significant. He was deeply closeted. Very deeply closeted. He literally feared getting to a place where there were more than 5 kuchus, because he feared that he would be ‘outed’ again. And when the red rug came out with his name, he was not happy. He was very stressed.

He died recently, of an unrelated cause (I think). But his is a life that I would not like to live. In fear. In hiding, all the time, from the very shadow of myself. I am gay. That is a fact. I am a homosexual. That is a fact. I did run away from it when I was much younger. But no longer. I do not want to deny myself for what I am, because I am gay. I will not hide it from myself. I want my friends to acknowledge it, and remember that it is just a part of me. Different from them. Not bad, just different.

I would not like to leave under the shadow of blackmail. I would not like to live under the shadow of a mob stoning me just because someone mentions that I am gay. My life without acknowledging my sexuality is a sham and lie that I would not like to live. I do not want any other human being to grow up thinking that he or she is sub-standard because they are like me in sexuality. I want them to be knowledgeable, with the knowledge that is common to the world. Not to fear disease, sickness, HIV. Not to live under a perpetual fear of being outed and executed, because a former lover changes his mind on what occurred in the past.

I am seeking a freedom that is abstract. For me, for other gay Ugandans, for those who are out there in the world like this young Iranian Makvan Mouloodzadeh. Most likely he will die, but I will not lie back and deny myself and do nothing, when I do live under the same kind of shadow. His fate is my fate. His life is my life. His pain is my pain. Most likely he will be hanged in public. But I am still alive. Should other gay Iranians suffer a similar fate or worse?

Yet the price is high. I remember the look of a colleague when he figured out that I am gay. He was disappointed in me. I could see it written in his face, but then, I was certainly not asking for his approval. I know many of my colleagues are talking. Few have come up to me personally, and those who did just wanted ‘confirmation’ of one kind or another. Professionally I may have shot myself in the foot. That remains to be seen.

Is it worth it?

Yes it is. The option is forgetting that I am a human being, and letting myself be trampled underfoot. It has to be, because I am a human being.



Anonymous said...

It's me, the Anonymous of the previous post. All the points you underlined are important, and another one should be added, the fact that the Fear also might come from we not accepting what we are, and thinking that others might be right about us being monsters. In that sense, this lack of freedom starts within our mind --- which, true, was shaped by society. That's why we accept so much bullshit, because we have that bullshit in us too. The closet is a state of mind. When you feel free inside (as is your case, but probably not the case of the closeted guy with some standing), you care less what people think and you care more about the practicalities of the harm they can do to you out of their stupidity. I am unhappy to think that the fight against Stupidity is very likely endless, and one does have to be at the same time militant and prudent (if you aren't prudent, you may lose the opportunity of being a militant). Because of what we are, we are obliged to be exceptional folks in order to bear such a great pressure and even physical danger (killed by the state or by the mob), and yet we are just born ordinary people who find it hard to be heroes. That's a strange, strange calling indeed.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I am curious about the attitude of your colleague. Maybe he has homosexual feelings also, and he needs to talk about that, but doesn't know how --- you know how tough that can be. I may be wrong, and you understand the context better, but I know of quite a few of similar adventures...

gayuganda said...

Hi Anonymous,

when you give such sage advice, I would love to know who it is!!!!! But no worries. Thanks for the comments.

The colleague. That would be a hard case to crack. What I know of him is that he is very religious. An acquitance of mine made a pass at him, and he ended up at a police station. Had to do some fast talking and bribing of the dear officers before my acquitance was released!!!!

So, as to getting to know this colleague's state of mind... I will let it go for now! At least I dont want to end up at a police station accused of making an inappropriate pass!!!! Once was enough for me.


Sasha said...

Hi gug,

There is a difference between accepting who you are, and letting others know who you are (being out). I fully accept that i'm gay, i do not fight it, rather i embrace it. I do not go around bashing gays and do the opposite.

However, no one who is not gay knows i'm gay. Simple reason is that they are not ready to accept what i am, and that, then, does not warrant them to know.

However, social injustice should be fought not because of a particular subset of society wants recognition, but because it is a fundamental human right for everybody to be treated fairly and justly. I fight for the iranian dude not because he's gay, but because he's human. And for that i do not (yet) see the need of sharing myself to all in the process.

gayuganda said...

Hi Sasha,

believe you me, I would rather have remained unknown to all and sundry. It was not completely voluntary for me to be outed. Yes, doing what I do, it was kind of inevitable. But I would not have chosen a sensational tabloid to do so!!!!

I believe that coming should be a personal matter. I was very happy to accept myself. For years I believed very few knew about me. When I was 'outed', I was happy about that, because I no longer have to dodge and duck questions. But I am not happy about the fact that it seems to some people like I am dung now that they know I am gay.

But cannot have it all my way, can I?


rahmane said...

"would love to know who it is": a fellow blogger, what else? I used to be on blogspot and I realize my blogspot address still works although it'll take you to my wordpress blog, which is bilingual (French/English, but mostly French) and more focused on politics, literature, etc. I discovered your blog through the work of the Artist who drew the portrait on your front page. Unless you are the Artist.

gayuganda said...

No. I am not the painter.

I am the poet.

Do you happen to know/be in contact with the painter?


Gay Nairobi Man said...


I feel you on the being outed issue. Deep down am not comfortable to let people know that am gay and I get despondent on rumours that I am. It is not that I have not accepted my sexuality. Its just that I prefer to control my outing and like Sasha like keeping it on a need to know basis.

rahmane said...

I'll send you an email about the Artist...

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