Sunday, August 24, 2008

Some Correspondence

Dear Gug,


I am struggling with a decision and would like your insight. I am a gay American. I recently became aware of the treatment of gay men and women in Uganda.

A friend of mine has a charity organization here in the U.S. that supports a school in Uganda with books, money, uniforms, and more. For several years I have supported her in her cause to raise money for that school. With this new information, about the treatment of gays in Uganda, I am no longer certain I can support this cause.

On one hand, I feel that I must support the school to educate the next generation for knowledge is power. But will that power be used against people like me? How could I ever go to teach at this school knowing that I might be prosecuted for my feelings and believes?

My stomach is sick with the stress over this situation and any comments and guidance you have is very much appreciated.

- Doug

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Hi Doug,

That is a tough problem. Even for me.

I mean, on the one hand, I am busy crying wolf about the way my country mates are treating me, just because I am gay. Yet in the long run, I realise that they are my country mates. And this is my country, and my people.

Sorry, I cannot help seeing your problem from my point of view.

They abuse me that I am a sell out. That I am not African, not Ugandan. They insist that it is right for me to be sent to jail for life, just because I have a man that I love, and that I make love with him. The president believes it is ok for the churches to preach hate and ignorance about me. The churches are united in that. It is okay to talk hate to me. It is okay for the Muslim leader to frankly and openly talk about me dying in the ghetto of an island, simply because I was born gay, and he does not understand it. Because he considers that it is okay. It is moral for me to get HIV, according to the head of the HIV commission in Uganda. Increadible, but the man charged with guiding the country's HIV prevention believes that the best way to do HIV prevention amongst gay Ugandans is to stamp out homosexuality, a 'vice' that is rife in schools, according to him.

I am a Ugandan. But I am a pariah in my own country.

Should I reject my country? Because they reject me?

I will not. Well, I am stubborn stupid, I must confess. If someone believes I should do something one way, I try the contrary way. But also because, why, why should I be forced out of my country? Why should I be forced to believe that I am worse than I am? Once I believed that. But I know I was wrong, and, despite the 'moral indignation' and condemnation of my country mates, I will not leave the country, as one, a Minister in the government demanded. That we homosexuals go away, because the people of Uganda rejected us.

And what does this have to do with you?

I have a stake in this country. It is my country, despite those who would force me out, just because I am different. I have rejected the Christian religion, because they will not have me. My country, well, to hell with those who think I should not be in it.

Simply put, they will not stop me from loving my country, because it is my country. And their efforts to silence me will not work. Simply because I will not have it.

You are a gay man who is giving your money, out of the good of your heart, to people who will potentially spit in your face. What advice would I have about that?

On the one hand, you are doing something good. Something commendable. School fees and education is one of the surest way out of the rut of poverty in Uganda. And in Africa. Those who are educated on your money will have a better life in the future. That will be because you, out of the good of your heart, has given them something.

On the other hand, Ugandans have bitten the hands of givers. The Church of Uganda made a big deal of rejecting money from the Episcopal Church in America. Why? Because of the 'homosexual' leanings of the Episcopal church. They called press conferences to reject the 'homosexual money'. With lots of fanfare, and pharisaical self congratulations on their good deeds, rejecting the 'homosexual agenda'. You will give the money, and they will accuse you of ulterior motives. Of pushing your homosexual agenda. Because you are gay.

So, should you stop giving?

I am afraid I have worked myself into a corner. When I started answering your letter, I wanted to tell you to continue giving. Because I cannot sincerely say, of some kid out there, depending on your handout for school fees, and the hope of a better life in future, that you should not give him or her this hope. Because of the stupidity of the kid's elders, who are intent on making you the giver an enemy, because of their ignorance.

But you are also a human being. And, much as you felt you needed to give, you are also hurt by Ugandans' hate speech. And rejection of you. They will take your money, and in church and mosque tell the world how bad and immoral you are. Or reject it with all the fanfare that they can generate in their selfish gesture.

No. I cannot have a clear answer. I can only hope that you come to a decision that you are comfortable with.

I know that many people, gay people outside Uganda, do have problems like this. To listen to all the hate speech and believe that, according to our leaders, this hate speech defines all Uganda, all Ugandans? No it does not. But it hurts. It does hurt gay people everywhere, even in Uganda.

No clear answer, I am afraid. But thanks for the support you have been giving Ugandan kids.



GayUganda


3 comments:

spiralx said...

I think the standard approach in cases like this is to selectively target donations.

I grew up through the late Sixties when Oxfam, the US Peace Corps, and similar charities became a cause celebre - people, famous and otherwise, championing the giving of money and time to the less fortunate.

But we are now forty years on from that, and can we honestly say that these have had a significant impact on the overall quality of life in any of the targeted countries? I question it, quite honestly.

I made a decision, a few years ago, to stop giving money to Africa or the Third World. Zimbabwe was my catalyst there, a personal thing.

As a gay man who is single, I don't have to worry about relatives fighting over my will. It's going to be enough for a couple of gay charities to benefit, and I'm happy with that.

I help LGBT community centres in Africa where I can, because that's also where I want my money to be spent. Not on more general assistance which can and will be used against people like me.

Then I found that a lot of other people (and companies) think the same way - they spend on what they consider "appropriate" projects. As - of course - do political regimes all around the world!

So Doug, your questioning is by no means a one-off, you're by no means alone in asking where you want your money to go.

Dunno whether that helps, but there you go! It's your decision, as always.

Anonymous said...

I think Guga answered your question - although he didn't want it to seem so. He is more Christian than his persecutors (laugh).

I want you to view the problem this way:

There is at least one gay child who will be a beneficiary of your generosity. Are you going to deny this one because of the many righteous others
who may turn round and bite the finger that fed them?

Keep your focus on that 'single' child and cast your bread upon many waters, as it were.

Gay Nigerian Man

Leonardo Ricardo said...

I sent money to HELP a "jailed priest" who aledgedly was "counseling" LGBT Anglicans at The Integrity Gay Community Center in Uganda...the Priest, wasn't in jail, wasn't endanger and was simply soliciting money and "The Center" was shuttered...later, I read:

Remember Rev. Erich Kasirye/Uganda who underhandedly
"solicited" $$$ at this/our LGBT list a year and a
half ago (and unfortunately received contributions
from LGBT members with his compelling stories and
lies)? Fr. Erich has NOW moved up to bigger and
better ministry "opportunities" and is NOW *offering*
"ecclesiastical protection" to U.S. Parishes from the
Diocese of Namirembe and Bishop Samuel
Ssekkadde...meanwhile, the ever-pious/
sometimes-present and always unpleasant Archbishop
Orombi is sturring up some potential "business" by
reminding us in the ECUSA about the "poisonous efforts
of the revisionist forces!"

My suggestion is to TARGET very carefully where your money is going...I lost $1,000. by trying to HELP (and the story WAS convincing)...be careful, be very very careful.

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