Friday, November 30, 2007

Gay in Uganda

Sometimes a poem flows out, and like an egg drops fully formed. One may doubt the beauty, and feel the form incomplete. But the message, that message. Though not well wrapped, in the best sounding words. Though not prettily presented with fork and spoon. Though it invites you to use your hands messily. That message pulls at your heart.

This poem did, coming out like the egg this morning. And I felt I would share it with you all.

Gay in Uganda

Gay in Uganda

is prisoner in prison,

though freedom I’ve tasted and known,

not of the body, but the mind.

No rights the prisoner,

acclaimed less than human,

prisoned to morals' whim,

my humanity questioned, my actions condemned.

Yet freedom’s of the mind,

I sail the skies,

loop the loop in pride,

bathe the light and storm the mountain holds

of happiness and love.

Freedom’s of the mind, love of the spirit,

both I’ve tasted and tested;

Freedom’s of the mind, and I’s free!

©GayUganda 30 Nov. 07

Thursday, November 29, 2007

SEXUAL MINORITIES UGANDA (SMUG) Commonswealth Peoples’ Space, Kampala 2007 REPORT


TEL: +256 312 296 858



Commonswealth Peoples’ Space, Kampala 2007 REPORT

In the event of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM 2007 UGANDA) Sexual Minorities Uganda -SMUG lobbied for an opportunity to participate and were invited by British Council to the Commonwealth Peoples’ Space (an event of CHOGM) scheduled for Friday November 24, 2007. SMUG invited representatives from Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK) and Horizon Community Association (HOCA) and other LGBTI people to join us in this space.

Today East African homosexuals came in peace to CHOGM to speak, as citizens of the Commonwealth. Ugandan and Kenyan lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) speakers scheduled to address the public at the CHOGM Peoples’ Space, Speaker’s Corner.

The Peoples’ Space was designed to provide opportunities to share in the diversity and richness of the Commonwealth people and was specifically designated as a space open to all people to interact and influence social change.

Although we were scheduled for Friday, SMUG received another invitation to a film festival from a non-LGBT film organisation in Kampala, Amakula. On Thursday November 23, 2007 we attended the two films addressing homosexual issues and later had a decent and lively discussion/debate between LGBTI people and the public present including two key religious people. The tent was so packed that other interested or curious people peeped over shoulders.

Friday November 24, 2007 16:30 was meant to be thee day for East African sexual minorities. We walked in at 12:45 our speakers clad in black T. Shirt with the words “Sexual Minorities Uganda Embraces CHOGM”. We were this early because we wanted to acquaint ourselves with the space before our presentation. In the crowds were some elements that identified us because of the T-shirts and messages on them. As we walked to claim safe space, we ran into a prominent anti-gay pastor- Martin Ssempa who heads the Inter-Faith Rainbow Coalition against Homosexuality. He said “hello” and hell broke loose. In less than 5 minutes we were surrounded by people who shouted and ridiculed us as cameras flickered and recorders pointed at us. An elderly woman asked; “Would you be here today had your mother been a lesbian…” Pastor Ssempa gave a devilish smile as other twentysomethings of his brigade from Makerere University yelled and shouted; “You don’t deserve to be on earth, not here!! Lesbians, lesbians… Where is security? Police, security take them away and lock them up…”

LGBTI front-liner stands up to Pastor Martin Ssempa

Next thing the manager of the space one Anne pulled the Co-chairperson of SMUG Julian Pepe away and took her to the reception to only receive the bad news from organizers.

“We’re sorry but the programme has changed. You had your time yesterday so you can’t proceed as planned because you’re attracting a lot of attention and you will divert the people from Prince Charles who is coming in at 15:00...” the organizers chorused.

Pepe was shocked and disheartened; “Why didn’t you communicate? How do you expect me to tell my people that we have come for nothing...?” She was given a copy of the programme and our presentation was not there. With a heavy heart she went and pulled Victor out of the mammoth crowd and gave her the bad news. Before we knew it, we were being escorted out by both plain clothed and uniformed security. We felt safe being escorted by them because the same plain clothed security had protected us the day before, until we approached the exit that their tone changed. They gave us 10 minutes to leave the premises of the Peoples’ Space. That’s when we took this space outside and made it ours. There was exchange between the security guards outside and members of SMUG and GALCK. Whoever was identified inside was immediately thrown out. Kasha was literally held by the arms by two guards and thrown out.

While outside, we collectively demanded for the meaning of “Peoples’ Space”.

Victor Juliet Mukasa the former chairperson of SMUG told those who felt they could not handle the waiting and protest, to leave immediately. Those who took the space outside were- Nikki Mawanda, Kasha Jacqueline, Georgina, Pouline Kimani, Leenah Najib, Victor J. Mukasa, Maniriho Emma and Julian Pepe. We made it clear that unless we were let in or given a proper explanation, we were not leaving. Some of us sat down in protest as others made phone calls to allies like Amnesty International, IGLHRC, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders, etc. Some of our members who stayed inside were; Frank Mugisha co-chairperson SMUG, Sheila, Brian, Naome (HOCA), Gerald, Sandra, Sharifah, Thomas and others were ridiculed. Some members of Amakula were locked out too for speaking to us. Amakula showcases African cinema. It is known for its celebration of African talent, professionalism, human diversity, and creativity. The police continued their aggressive affront.

Pepe was warned by police for taking pictures. In a split second, Victor was pushed to the ground and kicked to get up by one of the uniformed police and Alice Smits the Co-ordinator of Amakula Film Festival was grabbed by the throat for filming us.

“They threw me down,” Victor said bitterly, “Kasha who came back to help me up, faced it rough. She was caned on the back for doing so.” she stood her ground and declared: “I am not moving a single step from this place”.

“6 policemen in uniform came to us saying that they had orders from higher authorities that we should leave the place immediately. I told them they had no right to violate our rights to be in this space.” Agitated Georgina (a member of Queer Youth Uganda) noted.

Kasha; “This is crazy! The word ‘people’ officially lost meaning today. They’re plainly saying we’re not people”

Pouline from GALCK was disgusted; “Police brutality, public discrimination of any individual is unconstitutional. My experience at the people’s space clearly shows the need for our governments to support explicit fundamental human rights for all. Peoples Space should have had the unsaid quote ‘out of bound for African homosexuals’”

Frank Mugisha co-chairperson of SMUG who managed to get in had this to say; “I was in there, but someone came and whispered over my shoulder that I better leave because I’m being looked for. I did just that and joined you out here. Paul and I moved around looking for international press to inform them of what was happening to LGBTI people in this space.” Paul a medic who cares about our issues said he was pointed at and called a lesbian.

“One of the top security officials in plain clothes came and stopped them from beating us up. Those who were violent were immediately taken away and others brought to keep around us” Victor added.

On Thursday, this same group was part of a discussion about homosexual rights after a film screening about homosexuality and discrimination. Yesterday the debate was heated, but there were no fights. It was really good,” Alice Smits said. “It was the first time a real debate about homosexuality happened in Uganda.”

Naome of HOCA said; “Over the years our society has been subjected to diversity, the greatest of all being the violation of fundamental human rights at CHOGM, even with the presence of numerous heads of States. LGBTI people were denied the right of being with others at the forum that they so-called ‘Peoples’ Space’…”

The most aggressive policeman was identified as Eric Ociti. Those who violated us were immediately taken off the scene. We remained standing outside the gate in quiet protest, waiting to be allowed back in to deliver our speeches. What was supposed to be one of the greatest moments in our struggle became a disappointment. We were there for a total of seven hours, bitterly disappointed and embarrassed. Adding to the discrimination and violence carried out by police at the Peoples’ Space was an affront to basic human rights in Uganda

Both homosexuals and straight Ugandans are increasingly becoming fed up with the violence and discrimination being directed toward people of different sexual orientations and minorities in this country. Heterosexual Ugandans have begun to speak out against such police brutality, stating that they will not tolerate any kind of violence against another human being, regardless of their sexual orientation.

After futile attempts to secure entrance, Pepe went to one of the media houses- The Daily Monitor, Georgina and Victor also did exclusive interviews with The New Vision newspaper to have these violations exposed. But were told that the articles would not be out immediately.

On a lighter note; the term homosexual was not in use this day. Whoever the public suspected to be homosexual was called a lesbian. These people need to be enlightened.

Report prepared by:

Julian Pepe


Sexual Minorities Uganda- SMUG

The Closet

We are born naked and open,

with age learn to withdraw,

a cosy closet to make;

With age, knowing ours

against the world’s very strengths;

closets we fly, embracing life.

Not so the gay;

the closet, a prison;

place of refuge, our very chameleon camouflage,

the hostile to stare unblinking in the face.

There comes a time, always

when the walls dissolve,

jelly on a hot day,

we are revealed, clothed, naked,

as we are;

The closet, bane ‘n boon,

to gay man, ‘n woman on earth.

The closet, we love to hate you,

hate to love you,

the closet.

©GayUganda 29 Nov. 07

Pastor Ssempa invited me kindly to shed my anonymity. I declined with grace, I hope. He calls himself a friend to the homosexual, but if he cannot call me gay, and he is a friend, then surely I do not need any enemies.

The closet.

I am effectively 'out' to many people. Parents, relatives, effectively out at work. But I cannot be out to everybody. Especially to my enemies, because there is a risk in that. Standing in the middle of Pastor Ssempa’s church people as they egged the policemen to go ahead and beat the ‘lesbians’ up, I felt very thankful that I was unknown. Unknown, unnoticed, but very much there. That is the closet.

When the policewoman came to look us over, searching for ‘lesbians’, there were lots of us homosexuals there. But she was blind, though her eyes checked each one of us. We were not many, and she stood for at least a couple of minutes. The closet again.

It is protection. It is safety in Uganda. And of course, when Pastor Ssempa and his friends knew of the masks that many of us had put on at the press conference, they went ahead to put our pics on the web and name us on their radio stations.

The acts of a friend? Maybe a crocodile’s smile is mirthful. I don’t want to find out.

For some reason, I think my closet is dissolving. A bit more rapidly than I would have thought possible. What will Ssempa do when he knows me?

Truth to say, he has known of me for some time, though not necessarily in this guise. I may find out the mirth in a crocodile’s smile.

(Nay, the poem is not much, but, it says something. I hope.)


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Pet Insurance Yes, Gay Partner Insurance No

This is so hilarious that it must be true! Well, it is, but it is so funny.

(Palm Beach, Florida) After rejecting a proposal earlier this year to provide health benefits to the same-sex domestic partners of its employees Palm Beach Community College has decided to offer workers insurance for their pets.

Seems I will have to ask the forgiveness of the Uganda Government. Apparently, it is true that, well, homosexuals are not human beings! They are below human's pets!!!!!! (Maybe I should add 'straight' human's pets. Dont bash me please friends. I am just trying to take my own medicine and follow something to its apparently logical conclusion!)

Here is a conclusion from someone else.

"The only distinction I can see is one covers human beings in committed relationships, and the other covers animals in committed relationships," said council president Rand Hoch.

Dare I ask my employer in Uganda for insurance to cover my lover? Bad joke, I agree.

But I may have to apologise to Mayanja Nkangi and the others. They are following what is popularly thought to be logical!


How deeply can prejudice shade my sight?

The simple answer is prejudice can blind. Prejudice can and will blind a person to thinking.

Take Dr Watson. A guy so brilliant that when much younger, he helped unravel the mysteries of DNA. Went ahead to win the Nobel Prize. A living legend in his own lifetime.

Yet a few weeks ago, this icon of human thought came out with his ideas on why Africa will err, never develop. Negroes are inferior; something which the politically correct fail to take into account. The world was horrified, and he lost most of his credibility because of it.

At the moment, racism is politically incorrect.

The same guy had once stated that, if a gay gene was found to be present, a mother would be right to screen her unborn child and abort the baby if it was going to be a homosexual.

What a statement. At the particular time that Dr Watson said this, it was not really politically correct form. He was derided, in some quarters. But it did not diminish his stature. Not like this time when he showed his touch of political incorrectness.

Prejudice has been a heavy shade to my thinking. Oh yes, I imbibed prejudice with my mother’s milk. So does everyone. The world we grow up in always has its own set of prejudices. And we do not escape them.

I did not. And though I think I have worked a lot of them out, I still harbour some glaring logs in my eyes.

What set me on this thought track was an opinion piece in the Monitor Newspaper today. The opinion is written by Owekitiibwa (Honourable) Joash Mayanja Nkangi.

He is a very well respected and elderly politician in Uganda. And he has been talking about homosexuality, and how bad it is.

Mayanja Nkanji. His pedigree is impressive. I think not too long ago, he was cited as one of the most brilliant Ugandans. I know that he was the Kabaka’s Katikiro (Prime Minister) during the 1966 crisis, when the Kabaka was deposed and exiled. He only handed over his instruments of office recently, when the Buganda kingdom was reinstated. After 1986, when the current president took over, he is one of the opposition politicians whose power base was co-opted, after he was ‘duped’ into working with his political opponents. He held various ministerial portfolios, including Minister of Justice and Constitutional affairs.

A grandfather, he still combs his full head of hair in a 1960s type hair style with a ‘road’ parting the grey on one side. That is what I remember most striking about him! Apart from his grandfatherly look, and reputation to brilliancy.

He believes that the Government should tighten the screws on gays and lesbians in the country. It should not dare loosen them.

I was reminded of myself. Here is a man who cannot get past some of his prejudices. And he uses the gifts he has to explain to the world why these prejudices are correct.

He is very sincere. He is very convinced of what he is saying. ‘Govt must tighten screws on gays, lesbians’.

Gays and lesbians in Uganda are deeply stigmatised. They cannot talk in public. They cannot have an HIV prevention programme. They are punished for speaking out, other Ugandans believing that they shame them so much they should just hide their shameful beings out of sight, mind and thought. This is what is politically correct in Uganda at the moment, and an elder statesman has waded into the fight. There are Ugandans who deserve rights to be affirmed as human beings. That does not include homosexuals.

It reminds me of a quip I saw about the People’s Space in the Commonwealth Head of Governments meeting recently held in Uganda. The people’s space was for all people to come out and talk about their grievances. All people.

Except homosexuals.

Who were thrown out of the People’s Space and sat at the gate for 7 hours. The People’s Space? No. ‘The Some People’s Space’. Certainly not homosexuals. Because homosexuals are not human beings.

Guess what? I should ask Mayanja Nkangi how deeply government should tighten screws on homosexuals in Uganda. Maybe an island in the lake will do for us gay Ugandans? Marooned till the day we die, then there will not be any gays in Uganda. Out of sight, sound, even thought.

Poor Uganda. Are the likes of Mayanja Nkangi, Nsaba Buturo, and Martin Ssempa able to follow the logic of their suggestions? At least the Mufti was very clear on what he thought the logical conclusion should be.


Ode to Poetry?

Poetry’s versatile medium of expression;

the silly to the serious,

the grave to the light,

nonsensical to philosophy;

what a facile expression’s poetry!

The words turn, upside down in meaning,

and motion realises in static lines,

that reminds, like memory, in amber frozen,

yet still evocative and marching

with the very pulse of life.

I had failed, but no longer,

in the fluid medium of poetry I match,

the prose a vast rumbling ocean behind

led by the cutting edge muse of poetry.

Wonderful is life’s pulsing dream,

caressing the mind in the present,

holding budding promise of the future.

Though even the past’s unforgotten

in this ranging medium,

that the very spectrum of rainbow crosses

from the black absence of light,

to the searing brightness of white.

What a medium poetry is;

truly the language of gods and goddesses!

©GayUganda 28 Nov. 07

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

To a Friend. Richard Flynn

I know you not brother,

yet you I know my Brother.

Long is life’s precious dream,

yet too short in meetings;

when never do we use our time

in adequacy to know each other.

To you, from us, Kuchus all,

we thank your awesome heart,

that has given with all its heart

of all that it could and had.

Little else do we have

to return from our bounties.

The fertile soil of our heart

blooms from your tender care;

The limpid quickness of our thought

borrows much from what you gave.

Thank you brother, for your large heart,

Thank you for all you’ve us given,

and from the very heart of Africa we breathe

a heart warm, heartfelt thank you.

©GayUganda Nov 2007

Monday, November 26, 2007

His Day

The love of my heart

he has a heavy day of work planned,

and wonders out aloud

whence to begin and whence to end.

‘In my arms,’ quips I,

‘You’ll start the day in my arms,

and end your day there too.’

my reward, a blinding smile.

©GayUganda 26 Nov. 07

It is break of day

It is break of day-

the bird song chorus is in full bloom.

An unusual sight-

the moon is a full brilliant disk

in the lightening sky to the west,

as the sun, with a relentless majesty

throws off the blankets of night,

what a rare coincidence of happenings!

The world is so beautiful as is,

it’s a boon to see and know

and feel to my very bones

the enveloping beauty of my world.

It is wonderful to be alive, and know so.


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ugandan Homosexuals Refused Space to Speak at CHOGM Today

Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:35 pm (PST)

For Release to Press

____________ _________ _________ _________ _________ ________


Today East African homosexuals came in peace to CHOGM to speak and were met by violent police officers. Ugandan and Kenyan lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) speakers scheduled to give their addresses at the CHOGM Speaker’s Corner in Uganda today left after facing violence from the police and waiting for seven hours to be givenentrance to the People’s Space.

The People’s Space was designed “to provide opportunities to share in the diversity and richness of the Commonwealth people” and was specifically designated as a space open to all people. It was intended to give people “renewed energy to facilitate social changewith a clear sense of building the future together.” The discrimination and violence carried out by police at the People’s Space today is an affront to basic human rights in Uganda.

Amakula, a non-LGBT film organisation in Kampala also faced discrimination for showing a film that discussed homosexuality. Amakula showcases African cinema, “bringing filmmakers together to help create an inspiring and conducive environment for cinema.” The organisation is known for its celebration of African talent, professionalism, human diversity, and creativity. After hosting an LGBT-themed film yesterday at CHOGM that sparked hot debate across the nation, two members of Amakula were thrown out of the People’s Space today.

A non-LGBT related percussion group scheduled to perform at CHOGM has been cancelled because its performance was arranged by Amakula. Discrimination against a person because of any God-given attribute, such as sex, race, or sexual orientation, is both against the law in Uganda and a disgrace to humanity. It is love, not hatred that God commands.

The words of declaration stating this message that were prepared so diligently by the LGBT Ugandan and Kenyan representatives were not able to be heard. Instead, police threw them out of the People’s Space and refused to allow them to enter again.

The Ugandan police displayed embarrassingly inhuman and unprofessional behaviour, attacking the LGBT speakers and breaking sticks from trees in preparation for greater harm to the speakers. The LGBT speakers entered the People’s Space to prepare for the addresses they were scheduled to give according to the programme. Police began forcibly removing them. Victor Juliet Mukasa, a Ugandan LGBT Human Rights Defender stood her ground, declaring, “I am not moving a single step from this place.” The police continued their aggressive affront.

“They threw me down. Those who came back to help me from the ground faced it tough. One person was caned for doing so.” Both homosexuals and straight Ugandans are increasingly becoming fed up with the violence and discrimination being directed toward people of different sexual orientations. Heterosexual Ugandans have begun to speak out against such police brutality, stating that they will not tolerate any kind of violence against another human being, regardless of their sexual orientation.

The LGBT speakers remained standing outside the gate in quiet protest, waiting to be allowed back in to deliver their speeches. They were there for a total of seven hours. What was supposed to be one of the greatest fora for free speech has become a disappointment and an embarrassing case of discrimination for Uganda.

For more information contact:

Julian Pepe, Co-Chairperson of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG): +256

312 294 859 or info@sexualminoriti esuganda. org

Victor Juliet Mukasa, Ugandan LGBT Human Rights Defender: +256 753 116

034 or julie.mukasa@

Alice, Amakula: amakulakampala@

Please hold me Close

When I hold you in my arms,

the world fades to nothingness,

conscious shrinks into you-

your eyes, your face, your touch, you all;

the scent of your breath on my face,

the mold of your flesh into mine,

that’s all there’s for me.

A pool of love, immersed,

drowned, deep, depthed in love.

Please hold me close.

Don’t let me go-

Never let me go.


Message from Pr. Ssempa to you and your homosexual friends

When I woke up this morning, I found this message in my ebox. I have not altered it a jot!

Dear Friend,

Greetings. I have been reading your blog <>and
appreciate your literaly gift and ability of writing. I have noted
however that with the ability to speak directly with one another
because of your anonymity, you lack the ability to communicate which
is a two way conversation.

I thank you for your complements on my looks and charming personality.
But I regret that your esteem of me to be hate is wholly
misunderstood. You say you saw the enemy..I am not your enemy. I am
your greatest friend who is willing to tell you the truth even when
others dont want to do that. The bible says only a true friend can
give an open rebuke. Friends are the ones who can have a disagreement.
You see having made if my discipline to work and minister to
homosexuals over the last 15 years, I believe in your God given
potential to be a man, a husband and a father. To live a legacy for
your children and your grandchildren. I completely disagree to the
normalisation of homosexuality, which is a state of gender identity
disorder. What every "kuchu" needs is the willingness to turn to God
and His power for your healing. Remember, there is nothing that is
impossible for God.

I am shocked at your reading of the events at the peoples Forum. You
say that I set up a conversation with Julie and her freinds and set
them up to be thrown out. That my brigade from church wanted them to
be beaten up. This is completely untrue as I had only talked with
Julie and company for a few minutes. But they became too loud and I
had to excuse myself after that. I had a meeting going on, and the
police was very alert for any source of commontion. I really did not
know what happened, but I suspect they were overexcited and began to
argue with some of the people who were unhappy with Warren Nyamugasira
weak explanation earlier. They were eject from the place. I did not
really know what else took place as I had to leave before the prince
Charles arrived. I think that your inability to hear from me has led
you to believe that I set the girls up to be throw out. I think you
should ask them what my message was to them.

My heart bleeds with tears as I meet every homosexual and lesbian
these days. I have many many many stories in my counselling room of
boys who have been sodomized by the bigger boys at schools, or their
employers. Many of the victims weep and tell me how after a while they
began to enjoy being victimized..and how they too started sodomizing
other boys in schools and outside. The same is true of many girls and
now my heart bleeds for many who are in homosexuality not becuase they
made an adult decision to do so, rather they were adoloscents when
they were inducted into this lifestyle. I pray that no other boy or
girl gets defiled either by homosexual or heteresexual predators. I
told Julie that I weep every day..she mocked me saying that you will
weep very much. I do ask that you come over and talkw ith som eof the
former homosexuals in my church whose opininon was sort of like yours
but have now changed.

Lastly, I understnad that there was some mean words exchanged. Words
of revenge and anger by the people there. That they wanted the girls
to be beaten up. You indicate that this was the Ssempa brigade. I am
not sure that they were from my church, because it was a peoples space
and I saw many people from differernt walks of life. So I cannot speak
for all of them. I however realise that some of those could have been
from my church, I regret and wish to apologize to you for words which
were spoken in anger after provocation. I have never advocated for
violence against homosexuality or poeple with other sexual
addicitions. Rather I preach a message of redemption, healing and
maximizing our potential. This was my message for Julie and company.
It remains the same for you and for all. This is the message of Gods
institution called the church.

On other hand is the institution called government. They are also Gods
servants who punish with legal law enforcement. They are mandated to
uphold the laws of the land. My job is to preach to you so you may get
healed. I am not the government as you seem to indicate from time to
time.The government does not preach healing..rather it deals with law
enforcement and punishment.

You are welcome to write to me and ask me for input or clarification
on the actual events. I think that the lack of communication creates
an a climate of unfounded suspicion so that you see Ssempa behind
every shadow. while you are free to make assumptions based on your
impressions and feelings, sometimes the reality is much more different
from what you assume. No wonder the saved person at your work has
surprised you by offerning to help you when others did not. You are
shocked because it is the least person you expected to be your freind.
I think you will be shocked when you get to know the truth of my and
Gods love for you I have many former homosexuals who I work with who
will share with you their stories of the journey into change.

Have a blessed Sunday and we would be glad to have you come experience
the power and presence of God.

Martin Ssempa Phd

Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Persecution Complex?

It is surprisingly easy to develop this.
I am gay. A Ugandan. Living and working in Uganda. I have involved myself in the campaign to get ‘rights’ as we call them. Simply to have other Ugandans realize that we are also human beings. And also so that we can live without fear; of arrest, of blackmail.

Yesterday I had a run in with the Ssempa Brigade. I must admit that I was shaken out of my complacency. I was shaken out of the perennial thought that I will always be fine. Because I realized at that particular moment that I was potentially in danger.
Thinking about this can make me develop a persecution complex. Thinking all the time that people are out to get me.

At work, I have been observing something interesting. It concerns me personally.

When the campaign began, I told my immediate boss, and my final boss. They shrugged it off. When I was outed, I was worried, but it seemed to work out. That is until I suddenly found that I had to work less hours. Surprisingly, I have since found that some people working the bureaucracy did want me out. But there is a sticking point. Someone else does not want me out.

It has become a tug of war. With one person countering attacks to protect, and others doing what they can to influence the decision, and the possibility of me staying put. I am in between. I know I have most at stake, but I also know that I should not do anything about it.

Thinking of Ssempa, I am incessed at him, and the bishops of the Churches in Uganda are justifying their hate with their love of ‘family values’. Before I would have hit out at Christians, all and sundry. But now, I do not. The person who is protecting me at work is actually a ‘savedee’. A fundamentalist Christian, very active in Church. Why find it necessary to protect me while under attack by others who believe that I am a disgusting pervert? I do not know. We have made this kind of compact where we both know what is happening, but we do not discuss it.

Yet I am warmed by that attitude.

Similar to Desmond Tutu. Why does he have to take on the Archbishop of Cantebury? Yet he did.
So, who is wrong and who is right? Those who show respect for an ideal which I can only call humane? Or those who are using an ideal to bash me?

May I confess to being a tiny little bit confused? I do want to figure them out of course. Both the bashers, and those who take un-asked for risks on my behalf. And they help me to feel less like I am continuously under attack.


I saw the face of the Enemy

I saw the face of the enemy;
it was ugly beyond belief.


One can be lost
in mournful contemplation
of one’s pain.


Sometimes, many times, we forget that what we are dealing with in this ‘struggle’ are very serious issues. Sometimes, I am too concerned by the various rivalries and jealousies between kuchus. Concerned with the gossip of who is sleeping with who, and the juiciest titbits from the rockiest relationships. They are titillating, these bits of detail. They are what makes us so human.
But they are also blinding to some of the things that can happen.
I am a gay Ugandan, and a kuchu. Sometimes I forget how risky that is. I do live in a very violent country. In a country that is decidedly homophobic and proud of it. But I do forget it. Familiarity, indeed, breeds contempt.
Yesterday, I did see the face of the enemy. And I was reminded of my mortality.
I don’t doubt that I am a pariah in the eyes of many Ugandans. Seeing Ssempa in person, in action brought it back to me. He is a handsome man. Charismatic. Presentable. Charming. I knew him from tv. I first noticed him when he was suavely telling a woman about the ‘Rainbow Coalition’. I had just entered, and did not know as yet what had happened.
When I realised that, when I heard his chuckle, His chuckle replete with malice, filled with his own self congratulation, I looked at him. I saw the guys that were talking with him, followed him, eavesdropping as he proceded towards the other gate of the enclosure, I suddenly knew the gift that I have in my own anonymity.
When I was in the midst of the crowd from Ssempa’s church, when they were egging the policemen on, to go on and beat up, and throw out the kuchus, I understood that only my anonymous cloak was covering me. These guys were violent, and they were not ashamed to be so. They felt justified in what they were doing. They had had the horrible ‘lesbians’ and homosexuals chucked out. They wanted them to be beaten up. Harmed. It was a shame that the policemen did not go ahead.
When I was looking for ‘official help’ and understood that I would not get it because the bureaucrats did not think my cause merited their help, I did realise that we are in this alone.
The girls and guys are brave to shade their anonymity. But the closet is a real protection. We become weary of it, and want to shed it. Yet it may be the difference between life and death for us. Life and death.
I am sure that, if it was not the fact that the People’s Space was supposed to be free, and that there was foreign and local press there, the kuchus who had dared show their faces to the world would have been roughed up. The crowd was wholly behind that action. They were disappointed that the police was constrained. That the police did not go ahead and beat up the kuchus as they had started doing. Gone was the guise that they were supposed to have a Christian love for the homosexual. They clearly wanted the kuchus hurt.
It is a struggle that is very real, in the blood and tears that can be shed. In the potential loss to life and limb.
I saw the face of the enemy, and I was afraid.


Friday, November 23, 2007

I was there.

Apparently gay men were not allowed. Not even gay women, because a police officer came and looked us over and asked one of us who ‘looked’ like a lesbian whether she was. She denied of course. Indignantly.

Now, I am jumping the gun.

I have written about the People’s Space. Organised by the British Council at CHOGM. I also commented about the fact that yesterday, some of us were there. And did talk up when a bishop was going on with some homophobic remarks. That was yesterday, and I was not there. But today I was there, and we kuchus were not supposed to be there.

Started like this, from what I could gather.

The kuchus were there early. Hotel Africana, near the Centenary Park. A very beautiful day. No rain, overcast in the afternoon, meant the sun wasn’t so fierce. But the park is a very nice tree shaded area, it would not have mattered. The area which housed the ‘People’s Space’ was enclosed.

The kuchus entered. They didn’t know that their arch-nemesis in Uganda, Pastor Ssempa, (yesterday he was making noises about a ‘secret British’ plot to give the homosexuals space), had a plan in place. Members of the Interfaith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality were already there. They provoked an argument. Very easy when it is Pastor Ssempa against Julie Victor Mukasa. And it worked. When voices were raised, the police moved in. A little chat, and the ‘lesbians’ were chucked out of the ‘People’s Space’. That was about the time that this gay man entered.

I entered and wandered around. Charming area. Lots of things to see.

Then I got to the area where some of the guys were seated. Where are the others? Gloomy faces only. I was told the story.

I went to see for myself. The kuchus were at the entrance. Drawing eyes, and talking. I determined to go and tell them to use the other entrance. I didn’t want to talk to them within the hearing of the security guard nearby, so I started wandering backwards. There was a (an evil) chuckle from someone.

I turned. The devil incarnate.

I am sorry, but I do not like this guy. Pastor Ssempa. He was talking to a group of other guys, gloating. Literally. Because the kuchus had been forced out of the space. I listened, and needless to say, my dislike skyrocketed. He had engineered the whole thing. They had planned to have the kuchus thrown out. They were now gloating about the fact that they had succeded so stupendously. No kuchus would talk. No one would force them to hear talk about the homosexuals.

I was horrified. And determined that the guys should come back in.

My first thought was to warn the others. It had been a plot, and it had succeded. I warned as many kuchus as I could find. Then I went to mission rescue the kuchus outside. Had for support one of the Co-chairs of Sexual Minorities Uganda. We wanted the press to get in into the act. We informed those that we could. But apparently, with the Prince of Wales soon appearing on the scene, my major concern was a bug, a minor thing. Kuchus had been thrown out, so what.

I decided to go ahead. The area is supposed to be free, and controlled by the British Council. So I looked for someone to help there. Stonewalls. Stonewalled. The bureaucracy could not be worked for avowed homosexuals. They would get in, people told me unsympathetically.

I was frustrated.

They are supposed to present some speeches, I said.

I moved towards the gate, to talk to them. As soon as they saw me, the Kuchus themselves told me not to be seen with them. I took the hint, and observed from the side. There was a fracas. Some of the Police Constables trying to chase them away. The girls shouted at them. Stood their ground. They said they were gay, yes, but they also had a right to get into the People’s Space. That they also wanted to talk.

Not in plan for the officiating officials. They decided to manhandle them away. Shouts. Raised voices.

The guys inside the enclosure suddenly rushed towards the fence. They were egging the policemen on. Let them beat the lesbians. Let them chuck them out. The nerve.

I listened in horror. Realised that all these guys were actually members of Ssempa’s church. They had come with the express intention of preventing homosexuals from accessing the space. By hook or crook, and they succeded. They had some who seemed to be their leaders. They ordered some of the others back, that everything was under control.

The policemen started man handling the guys and gals. This of course drew the press. Where my pleas for a breaking news chance were ignored so utterly, the fracas drew them. And that is when I realised that anyone talking to them was being denied entrance. One mzungu woman, (a reporter?) was pulled and she was very loud in her indignation. How could the police do that!

That was about the time that the police realised that they had turned it into a spectacle and the press was recording. Cameras were rolling. They stopped trying to manhandle the kuchus out. They were allowed to sit, near the entrance. The eggers on realised that the police would not force these outcasts out of here. Not as they wanted. Some of their leaders ordered them back. And the press went ahead to listen to the Kuchus’s story.

I went back to sit down, in the tent where the other guys had been forced out. A friend went about 30 minutes later to check on the situation. Told us that we were safer inside than out. That Pastor Ssempa’s goons and the police were around our Kuchu friends.

Pastor Ssempa’s goons. Hitler’s Brown shirts. So much hate and venom from ‘professional Christians’.

We sat on.

It was then that a police officer, a police woman came to check us over. Wondered who of us was a lesbian. It was written on none of our faces. She saw a likely candidate, and called her out. The lady was indignant of course.

The police woman went away. We immediately asked for the details, which were nicely relayed. Someone commented that it seemed the lesbians were the most feared of all of us kuchus.

Prince Charles came. Yeah, saw the guy. Heard the ‘few remarks’ and we all did not even stand to greet him. I asked the others whether this was a sit-down strike. They were still glum.

You know, it is galling. The injustice of it when you are considered so evil that even the police will work in concert with those who illegally work against you. Deny you rights to free speech, to meeting, and are louded because they do so under the guise of religion and morality.

When we left, we talked to Kuchus outside. They were still angry, giving interviews to all and sundry. They were hoping to embarrass the police more into allowing them inside. They did not, apparently.

Did Pastor Ssempa and his goons win? No. I was there. I am gay. I am a kuchu. And we are alive another day.


A Kampala Afternoon in Chogm

This country is beautiful. Breathtakingly beautiful.
One may argue that it is home to me, so I am biased. One may wonder how a place in Africa can be so beautiful that I sing its praises consistently. But it is.
I am looking out of my office window. I am lucky. I have a huge window space overlooking the road.
The road is empty of cars. Not empty, fine. There are cars, but not the usual bumper to bumper traffic. But it is the very emptiness, relative emptiness that is bringing tears of appreciation to my eyes.
Sometimes the multitude of trees in the forest distracts one from an appreciation of the beauty of a thing. So it is with Kampala. Emptied of people, it has taken on a new persona. Homely, clean, bright, flowering.
I know that the City Council patrols are out chasing people off the streets. If you are peddling anything, if you look untidy, if you look like you have nothing to do in Kampala (a very relative term), a City Council Law enforcer can decide that you are ‘idle and disorderly’. It is a perfect law. Vague enough to hold anyone. And it is British, ironic!
Anyway, the streets are empty, of cars and most of the multitude. The rainy season has just been, but now it is a tropical sun that bathes the place.
True, at the moment the sun is playing hide and seek with the clouds. But still it is beautiful. It is the Pearl of Africa, to me. It is home.
The sky is a beautiful blue, light of substance. The clouds are thin, and threatening, vaguely, as they shade the sun now and again. It is the afternoon, which may threaten an afternoon shower. But the clouds only shade, a mite, the brilliancy of the sun.
It is hot, has been hot, and a humid dry which I associate with Kampala. With Uganda.
Coming to work, I was feeling like I was taking a cool draught of wine. Heavenly, chilled, refreshing. I wanted to walk into town, just because it would have been so restive. I didn’t. Just grabbed one of the ‘taxis’ minibuses. But still, my eyes were on the outside. Looking at this almost un-comparable beauty. I drunk it in, and then I have been having fun just looking at it.
There is something divine in the strokes of the wings of a ladybird on one’s finger, in the cool stench of loam and earth and home, in the sight of a Kampala that is shining in all her natural beauty, only slightly dampened by the red laterite dirt in some places.
Kampala, the beautiful. Even the dirt speak of home, taste and touch of Uganda.
You are home, and I do love you.


The Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality

I can believe this. It is very believable, of the character of the person, and the country in which it was uttered, and the place.
Chogm is a very weird space. Some countries are being expelled from the Commonwealth because they are not democratic. Uganda is demonstrating her democratic credentials.
Homosexuals have been allowed to talk. So also the anti-gay brigade. The Inter-Faith Rainbow Coalition Against Homosexuality. Pastor Martin Ssempa. Reputedly an AIDS activist. They are protesting that the Kuchus have been given a space to talk. Everyone in Uganda has rights. Except Gay Ugandans.

Check out what he thinks by following the link.

Pastor Martin Ssempa, an anti-gay activist said: “If Uganda is leading in the fight against HIV/AIDS, it should do the same to fight homosexuality.”
He accused the organisers of the Commonwealth People’s Space at Hotel Africana, for secretly creating a platform for homosexual groups.

The guy is a very good politician. Sooner, rather than later, god is going to ask him to follow political er, orders. I have prophesied.


The Open Space

I cant believe this!
I was not there yesterday. Saw the invitation, but too many things came up to interfere with this.
There is a place in the Commonwealth meeting, CHOGM, a space that is free for people to voice their grievances. The People's Space. And gay Ugandans were there. To do just that.
And apparently, so were the bishops who are promoting their homophobia. It is interesting that these guys have not been having anyone to challenge their hate peddling.

It is hate peddling.

And the problem with Assistant Bishop of Kampala Church of Uganda (Anglican) Diocese, Zac Niringiye; was the fact that Gay Ugandans were taking the chance to be present and to talk. And he faced the wrath of Mr John William Foster from Canada, who was outraged!

Mr John William Foster, a gay from Canada, did not take the comments lightly. He asked Bishop Niringiye why he did not want gays to have rights in their own countries.

"How do you dare say that? In my own Country, I have the right to exist and my church allows me to marry a fellow man. Can you stop it," Mr Foster shouted as other visitors watched.

Bishop Niringiye responded, "It depends on the values of your church. In Uganda, homosexuality is an evil." Other gays could not let the Bishop explain. They came forward in one chorus pointing fingers towards Bishop Niringiye telling him, "We are human beings like you."

Follow the Link here.

Mr Foster, in Uganda, homosexuality is an evil which means homosexuals do not have the rights of human beings.

Mr Foster, you are my Hero for the Day!!!!!!!!!


Of Kings, Queens and Protocol

The birds’ morning orchestra,
It’s an early morning thing,
the world to wake from its daze to its senses,
full wakefulness; and the bath of the day’s sunlight.

It seems as if I am also waking from my stupor. This Chogm thing, it has been at my mind’s periphery. Known, but barely noticed.
Interesting things are happening.
Is it true that the Iguru of Bunyoro, the Rukirabasaija of Toro, the Kyabazinga of Toro and the Kabaka of Buganda have been snubbed by the central government?
It is a rumour that is making the rounds. The central government is jealousy of the clout of the traditional leaders. They have an un-exercised political power, which the central government is always wary of. Buganda has been restive over the last few days. Land issues. But this snub was a bit too much. Even I feel it, and the traditionalists are incensed. A ferment of discontent.
A blow to pride is not quickly forgotten. Bad move. See below, and follow the link.

"The Kabaka himself met his Katikkiro (Prime Minister), Ambassador Emmanuel Ssendawula, over the matter and concurred with his cabinet that the invitation by Foreign Affairs Minister Sam Kutesa was indeed demeaning.

The invitation is for single entry, which means it doesn’t allow the Kabaka to be accompanied to the dinner by anybody - not even his wife, the (Queen) Nnabagereka Sylvia Nagginda Luswata, or his Katikkiro.
“These people have no respect for Kabaka, they don’t respect his protocol,” protested a member of the royal family who preferred not to be identified."

Mengo (seat of Buganda) is also disturbed that the central government has deliberately refused to acknowledge that Buganda Kingdom is hosting CHOGM on its territory


Ready for CHOGM

It has sneaked up on me. Chogm.
It’s funny how the world moves even when we are still. I have been very concerned with ‘Kuchu’ affairs. What is happening, what we plan to happen, what the campaign has been doing. I have taken off time to write in the blog my frustrations, desires and hopes. At the periphery of my consciousness has been the awareness that Chogm was coming. The roads in the city have been ripped up and mended. The buildings have been repainted. The few times that I have taken the time to notice what has been happening outside of me, I have noticed. But it seems not enough.
Chogm is the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting. It happens once in two years. It is political. It is a social occasion. Our president had this vision that it should happen in Uganda, and he has poured his energy into it. And it is happening. The Queen, as head of the Commonwealth, has landed, and Ugandans are ready.
I took a walk in the city, just to look at what has been done.
It is a lot. Yes, I am usually critical of the lack of planning that happens consistently. A lot of money has been poured into this meeting. And it has been poured into Kampala, the capital. It is ridiculous thing that little has happened of government programs outside the capital for months. The Treasury is effectively bankrupt, till the next financial year.
But Kampala has been prettied up. And it shows.
We are ready for Chogm. That was the rallying call. To get ready for Chogm. And the populace, at least in Kampala, have taken note of it. Today most decided to stay safely at home. The traffic in the last few days has been horrible. But today, it has been light. Very light.
The streets are clean. That is amazing for this city. The roads are shining with the newly installed lights. Ugandans love window dressing. We have a huge problem with an insufficiency of electric power. We have scheduled blackouts, regularly. But not during Chogm. And we have added onto the grid a lot of new street lights, into every nook and corner. It looks beautiful, I must say.
Yet it is wasteful. This is going to cause more strain on the electric grid. Means more scheduled power cuts, after Chogm.
People are happy. 3 holidays declared in the middle of a working week. (Apparently so that we can sit back at home and watch the festivities on TV. Actually to rid the city of cars that had gridlocked roads the last few days.) And down town looks prettier than I have ever seen it in my life. A flower in bloom, well tended, and it is during the next few days that it is going to be at its most alluring.
We have planned a lot for it. Freedom is when we can take it. And who is going to abuse us when we talk about our sexuality at the People’s Forum? So, we shall.
And we have published books, to give to the Delegates. ‘Homosexuality; Perspectives from Uganda’ edited by Dr Sylvia Tamale. Feminist, human rights activist, and of course, by her detractors, the leading proponent of homosexuality in Uganda.
And we used the cover of this meeting to blow our own closet wide open.
Has it been worth it?
I must say, for the LGBTI community in Uganda, we have been ready for CHOGM. We have challenged the status quo, and despite the deafening roar from the rest of the community for us to shut the hell up, we have managed to have our voice heard.
Viva to all the Kuchus in Uganda.
And I hope you attend the People’s forum at Hotel Africana.


CHOGM days

Man’s life’s a punny detail,
in the huge grand plan;
a drop of water in the ocean,
a breeze to stir a leaf in a gale.

My world, Kampala is convulsed in Chogm. The meeting has started.
Correction. The meeting is starting today. But for most people in Kampala, it started a few days ago, when they realised that it would be almost impossible to come into town easily when the meeting was ongoing.
So, the roads have been clear of traffic. A couple of public holidays were declared, and embraced by those who could. Curiously, the president decided that the people who he controls least, the business people, should open their shops. While the civil servants and buying public relaxed at home and out of the city.
My world, I said, but it seems that I have been otherwise employed. It is like a dream that I am passing through. Knowing that it is, that the whole of my world is deep in the worship of that almost deity, the fabled Queen of England, alive and walking in the flesh the soil of Uganda.
We have a deep seated reverence of royalty. The Kabaka of Buganda had a demi-god status. Literally, to greet him, his loyal subjects lay down on the ground so that he stepped on them. If he so willed. He had the power of life and death, at the blink of his royal eye.
The other kings were not much worse. The Iguru of Bunyoro is still very much a god in the eyes of his people. So is the Kyabazinga of Busoga. A fracas was caused when his photo was put on one of the Chogm billboards. The guy had possed for the pic, but his people were horrified at the act of lesse majeste. It is curious. The Queen of England has her face plastered on the streets of Kampala. But the Kabaka of Buganda, the Royal Majesty in whose kingdom she is at the moment, cannot have his august face so defamed. It would be deeply insulting to Buganda royalists!
A very interesting world that I live in.


Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Whole

He’s one half of the whole-
I hold the vision and the dream;
He holds the fire and the will.
We are a whole,
walking in synch,
though the rhythm sometimes fails,
and out of step we fall.

We are one whole, working on the rhythm,
sometimes it takes a blink, to synch;
or longer years un-understood,
yet we still gel, long years now;
alike as unlike, still in synch.
Together, where it matters,
forever, if it matters.

©GayUganda 22 Nov. 07

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Kampala in the Distance

A city seated in a bowl

wrapped in clouds in a distance;

Kampala, beautiful Kampala.

What I see of it are the near scrappers,

shrunk to a boy’s toys,

blocks seen far off in a distance.

The corners are round, the sharp corners softened,

hotels, banks, towers and all,

look pretty toy like blocks,

to tumble at the touch of a finger.

The green cloth stretches out;

a skirt on the outskirts,

extending to the hills her horizon,

dotted here ‘n there by roofs

in varying shades of red.

They say its a city built on hills,

I see a madam squatted in a bowl,

radiant, the hems of her skirts

suburbania’s sprawl of buildings.

The ugly telecom towers,

thin skeletal phalluses on the hill tops,

skeleton like trees visible

ever erect and non-blending.

She’s pretty, ‘s Kampala,

squat seated in her bowl,

the hills around her the horizon

that holds up the skies.

The sky, that silent expressive medium,

now a deep shade of light blue,

the clouds, huge, flat bottomed woolly masses

hanging almost motionless,

blown in from the lake by massive breezes

that lift to hold these white African elephants.

(massive, African, elephant mammoths)

Kampala the beautiful,

a merciless demanding woman,

pitiless on the weak, no shelter to the unsheltered.

Kampala the beautiful,

squat in her bowl, wrapped in her fumes;

still in her light, that is Kampala,

the city I call home.

©GayUganda 20 Nov. 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reaction to a Poem.

I looked at this poem, read through it once. And recoiled away. Ran, literally. Jumped the pages to another.

It is not a bad poem. It is great English, but it is something within it. The graphical sense of torture portrayed.

I have not watched, and do not plan to watch the film ‘The Passion of Christ’. When I read something well written, the mood curls around me in an invisible envelope. So it is with poetry. It affects me, my mood, my perception of life.

Reading Winfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et decorum et’, I never fail to be gripped, held by the imagery, the poetry, the living entity of that recollection. I am caught up in his nightmare. I live it with him.

Yet, I have read that poem at least 30 times, and will read it again. Because it is simply very good.

When I read this poem, and recoiled away from it, I turned the pages to ‘Dulce et decorum’. I psyched myself to read it again. Immediately I was immersed in the dream. Again. And when I came up, gasping for the pure fresh air, I shivered and thought; there’s too much pain in my life, for me to write of it lightly.

It became a poem, here.

Too Much Pain

There’s too much pain-

day to day as seen,

in my life real;

too much seen

of man ill and cold,

for me to write of pain lightly;

not a joke, not even stale-

a living pulsing nightmare

that touches my world too often

to think of pain in abstract,

a dream I fear to venture in.

There’s too much pain in my world,

though I may not of now feel it;

but I hurt, I cringe, I pain-

with the pulse of hurt

flowing through my people.

there’s too much pain in my world

for me to write lightly of pain,

its myriad cruelties and hates;

there’s too much pain in my world…

©GayUganda 20 Nov. 07

Monday, November 19, 2007

Kampala Nov 2007

Why do I write? I don't know. Maybe it is because there is so much happening. Much that we consider incosequential. When I saw the small birds eating grass seed on my lawn, I just felt like writing that down. A poem. Not realy a celebration of the excellence of language. But a trial, an attempt, to take a snap shot of that which is and remember it. To freeze it.
My lover complained that the lawn was too bushy. So it was trimmed. But I am afraid my little birds will not return. The table has been removed, the dishes packed away clean.

I have been walking through Kampala. I must say I was sceptical of all these preparations for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting (Chogm), but they seem to have transformed the city a bit.

As I entered my place of work, I thought I must write down something to remember this.
Not great poetry. Forgive me. But it is a reflection of the imperfect perception of my very human eyes and mind.

Kampala is prim and primed,
-ready for Chogm;
the roads are washed clean,
(though the rains remain heavy),
the windows are dressed,
the fires are lit,
and the streets match with light.

A bride, Kampala is-
a bride plumped and ready;
the smile flashy blinding,
the face chisel fashioned,
mascara running in place.

But the groom in waiting-
is a strange one this groom.
Ago she ruled here,
of now, only in name;
ago, of her grandma,
when grandma empress was,
the god-man (kabaka) ruler,
sent grandma empress a letter;

(they say it was for hand of empress;
that was lost in translation),
invitation to visit,
visitor turned protector,
till 45 years gone-
the land was left returned.

Grandchild comes back in fancy-
turned to empress without lands;
though empire still now stands,
and Uganda is but a far flung jewel.

The pearl’s already shining,
the luster burnished and braised,
all the light reflecting,
in blinding smile of pride.

Never before has she shone so,
maybe this bride will shine again;
but of now, she shines, Kampala shines,
though the valleys hide her muddy hems,
she smiles, smiles the bride Kampala,
awaiting the groom empress,
In all her glittering fancy and joyful pride,
Kampala’s ready for Chogm.

(c) GayUganda

Birds at Breakfast

My lawn has flowered,

and the flowers gone to seed;

and a flock of tiny, little, twitty birds

has come to grace the lawn;

and there’s a feeding frenzy ongoing.

A perch steady on a blade of grass,

A pretty beak held out to trap

the long stalk of grassy seed,

and to pull tiny seed off like a rake,

right into the beak to swallow and taste.

In tiny, silent, pretty gorge

as each a tendril of seed brings down;

to harvest with beak a once go over.

Birds at breakfast, my lawn the table set,

A bountiful banquet, for all and sundry

©GayUganda 19 Nov. 07

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Acceptance helps gays, psychiatrists inform Anglicans

I picked this from a list that I peep into. What can I comment? I wish I could send it to Pastor Martin Ssempa, and Archbishop Lwanga, and Archbishop Luke Orombi of Uganda. It is precisely this kind of information that is not 'allowed' in Uganda. Virtually censored out of the knowledge of people. And even doctors.

Yet, how much higher a medical opinion can one seek than this? The Royal College of Psychiatrists. There is a PDF version of the full report.

Church Times - 15 November 2007
Acceptance helps gays, psychiatrists inform Anglicans
by Bill Bowder

The Royal College of Psychiatrists has challenged Anglican bishops to support gay clergy and laity as an example to parents struggling to come to terms with having gay or lesbian children. “The Church has a wonderful opportunity to lead rather than to be dragged along kicking and screaming. Christianity is such an inclusive religion,” said Professor Michael King, an executive
committee member of the College’s special-interest group of 200 to 300 psychiatrists who work with lesbians, gay men, and bisexual and transsexual people.

His committee has submitted a report to the Church’s Listening Exercise on Human Sexuality, to inform a study guide for next year’s Lambeth Conference. The report, endorsed by the full College from the President down, said that there were no scientific or rational grounds for treating lesbian, gay, and bisexual people differently, Professor King said on Monday.

If there were theological reasons for treating lesbian, gay, or bisexual people differently, that was for the Church to decide; but the Church had already changed its mind over slavery and the position of women in society. “It is odd to see why this should be a sticking point.” Professor King said that he no longer attended church because of its “disappointing attitude” to this
issue (and to that of women bishops), which had contributed to social exclusion.

Research showed that lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) people suffered stress because of the rejection and discrimination that they experienced. This resulted in the same kinds of mental-health issues, destructive behaviour, alcoholism, and substance abuse as people subjected to racism also experienced. Both groups also experienced a kind of ‘internal form of stigma’, he said.

“What we know is that greater openness leads to self-acceptance. If the message of acceptance comes from people placed high in the Church that LGB people can lead ordinary lives then this does a huge amount for families who are struggling to come to terms with an LGB son or daughter. The message that LGB people should not be discriminated against could be a message to society that they were all equal before God.”

The report says that LGB people should have the right to protection from therapies purporting to change their sexual orientation. There was no evidence that treatment of this kind worked, but considerable evidence that it did a great deal of harm, Professor King said.

Sexual orientation was a spectrum. “In nature, there are spectrums: they can’t be cut into neat joints”. At one end would be someone who was predominantly heterosexual, and at the other someone who was predominantly LGB. It would be “impossibly difficult” to try to change someone at either end of the spectrum.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Gender Identity Male

I was at a gathering of kuchus the other day. Interesting guys and gals. Gender benders, I call us. I had a sudden revelation, insight into my perception of our challenge to established custom.

I have blogged before of our Kuchu identities. I thought that I had accepted all of us for what we are. The different identities, the shades of differences. I was shocked to find that I may not have, that there are some things which are seemingly beyond my liberal mind.

One of us decided to teach us the Salsa. A brazilian dance I believe.

He is a good teacher. Took us through the initial steps, baby steps, easy for one with two left feet like me. Then came the point when we had to have a partner.

Usually, that makes me uncomfortable. I cannot lead in a dance, and someone has to have mercy on my partner’s feet. I like disco. No form but what is in my head. I dislike dancing which has a pattern. I become awkward.

The teacher told us that it was a dance for a couple. A man and a woman. And he started showing us how the man stands. I laughed, asked him what if it was two women? He shrugged it off.

We paired up, and the teacher took my partner. I was left without one, that is, until someone noticed that someone else had no partner.

(You will forgive me if I am politically incorrect.)

My new partner was a woman. A woman dressed as a man, butch and burly, acted and mannered like a man. I joked with her, telling her that we were two men, so who would be the woman?

The joke quickly turned sour. My partner, she wanted to be the man. She refused to be the woman. I held out my hand as the man, she refused it. Impasse.

I commented before that I am quite firm in my gender identity. Just an explanation, we are born with ‘sex organs’ which determine our sex; male or female. We are socialised into a gender role in our societies, male or female. And we also identify with these roles; what is called gender identity. For most people, the social gender role and gender identity are the same. But for the transgender they are not.

I am a man. That has never disturbed me. I am a man who is attracted to other men. A homosexual. Once upon a time, that disturbed me, but not now.

I don’t want to be a woman. I have been socialised to think that women are somehow, by that accident of genes, below me as a man. An African man. It is an unconscious assumption, prejudice, cemented by my upbringing, challenged by what I now see on a day to day basis of its falsehood, and its consequences.

I have met many other biological guys who embrace the female gender role. They want to act like women. African women. They want to dress like them. And of course, those of us who do not tend to be irritated, and wonder what exactly is going on. I thought that I had accepted them as part of our diversity as kuchus.

I was shocked to find myself balking at the chance to play the woman. I just literally could not.

The lady of course is a transgender. She identifies as a man. And to her, growing up in the same African culture as I had, she did not and would not identify as a woman. Regretfully, we failed to learn the dance together. Later, I took my lover to introduce her to him. He took one look at her and asked whether she was a man or woman. A man, she said confidently. The voice low and firm, puffing on a cigarette.

Now, thought I, that is an African man.

Go on brother!