Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gay Marriage

I have been thinking a lot about the gay wedding in Senegal.

Guess it is because our circumstances are so similar. Despite the fact that a continent divides us. And, yeah, I have been thinking of it relative to my situation.

I am a gay man. It is great that I have accepted that fact. I am a gay Ugandan, living and working in Uganda.
And I am a gay man that lives with his gay lover, in Uganda. And we have done that for the last seven years.

In some ways it seems like a dream. A beautiful dream for me. But there are things which we forget. We live with danger to such an extent that we have occasionally to be reminded that something lurks out there. That there are people who would see our love as something abominable. Yes, like my dear brother. (Met him since, was not able to discuss it with him.)

It was in 1999, late, that one of the local newspapers, New Vision, published a front page article of two gay Ugandans getting married. Not in Uganda, in London!
The usual furor, and hate speech followed. Yet it was notable that that was when our dear president (er, the current one), came out strongly homophobic, ordering the Criminal Investigation Department to arrest and imprison us.
There was fear in our community. I do remember it well.

Somehow, it fizzled out. Must say we were more closeted than we are at the moment. Maybe they did search for kuchus!

My partner and I have lived together for some time, but we cannot have any acknowledgement of the fact that we are a couple. Not by my relatives, who know that we are. Not by his relatives.
Sometimes it is frustrating. Like Sunday I attended a family gathering. Birthday party for my dad.
Typical African man, would not have acknowledged it but for the fact that seventy is a milestone, and he has not been very healthy the last couple of years. When he told me, and I told one of my sisters, a 'suprise' party was planned.
Not all could make it. Turned out to be a gathering of the grandchildren. He has 20, and counting.

I had to leave my partner home.

We talked about it. I wanted him there, since the old man knows. But my partner thought it would be 'unfair' to make him unhappy on his special day. And of course he is very sensitive to the fact that some of my brothers and sisters are maintaining a hostile silence.
Anyway, I went alone. But felt lonely in the mass of happy kids.
Felt I would like to be acknowledged that he is my family.
When will that ever be?

He would like a wedding. A real, wedding, with church and a kasiki etc.
Will that ever be?

Maybe it is wishful thinking. But I will dare to hope.

Last year, November, a couple, friends of ours invited us for their wedding in South Africa. A real live gay wedding.
We could not attend.
I wrote them a poem, but didnt send it.

Now, the wedding in Senegal has made me thoughtful. It is something to remember that we have love, and that we celebrate it in the face of a lot of opposition. Yes, it is good to love and be loved back. And we will acknowledge it to ourselves, even when we cannot do so before our society.

Here is the poem. I did not send it because I did not think it was good enough. Editing now seems not to improve it much, but here it is.

Two Equals, Now One United

A marriage of two equals

that day you celebrate-

two equals united one

mysterious unity thence.

Before were you one and one equal,

now you are two in one equal;

together, blessed, touched, consumated

May the flame of love that you united

burn ever stronger, ever longer, ever wider;

may its base grow wider, wiser;

may its light the doubters light,

and grace sceptics with awe 'n wonder

May you know love eternal

lookin' in one the other's eye.

May differences melt in communion,

as the love you share pours out sweetly.

Usikelele Afrika

land that your union blesses;

the blessings and shower of love

follow your steps and mis-steps,

united in love, now, forever more.



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