If you are not aware, in the Parliament of the
is a bill, designed to ‘wipe out homosexuality’ from the country. Republic of Uganda
The bill has huge, terrible punishments for the homosexual Ugandan. They are life imprisonment, and the death penalty, for any acts that are deemed to be ‘homosexual’, ranging from simple touch, to lovely, consensual sex.
The mood amongst the gay community at the moment?
Well, we have been demonized, for years. But this year has been special. More than usual. Our lives hang in balance, yet we cannot defend ourselves. We have been branded traitors to the country, un-African, un-Ugandan, we are under attack as ‘recruiters’ working under the aegis of ‘foreign homosexuals’. The bill in parliament is a vicious attack on the human rights in the country, yet those who would have dared to speak up are also cowed. They fear being labeled homosexuals. Or, supporters. Recruiters.
Yet, this is an account of a Gay Wedding in
. It happened yesterday. Uganda
We are a multi-ethnic country. Our marriage ceremonies differ from tribe to tribe. We are proud of them. They define us, define the start of a new generation, the final flight of the nestlings from the home. They are usually a big community event.
For most of us, the basic traditional wedding ceremony is when the girl introduces the boy to her parents. The Introduction Ceremony. With the coming of formal religion, this is taken as the first, before a Church or mosque wedding, or whatever.
The ‘Introduction’ Ceremony is a must. Many don’t go beyond that, for various reasons. But, once the Introduction is done, the man and woman are one, family, in the eyes of the community. It is our most important ceremony.
This is December marriage season, when students are back from school, holidays are in for office workers, and such. It is the season of weddings and introduction ceremonies. The season of parties.
Two guys, two kuchus wanted to cerebrate their love. And, they did it yesterday.
Of course they are aware of the bill in parliament. They are aware of the current climate of hostility and homophobia, frank violence in the country. But, they still wanted to cerebrate the joining.
They did come out to their parents. An amazing thing indeed, because, for most of us kuchus, it never, ever happens. Too dangerous. We risk being thrown out of our clan, tribe. Everything.
And, with their parents permission, they planned and did the wedding. A gay wedding in
, at this particular time. Uganda
Plans have been on for most of the year. Despite all the impediments, the fear, the risks. They were determined to do it.
They gathered the money. Traditionally here, the whole community pitches in, to fundraise for the couple. These guys couldn’t risk that. They did it on their own.
They informed their parents. Who acceded. I wish I was there in that particular meeting. Hon. Bahati has a son, and, he is always telling audiences his worst nightmare- his son introducing another man as his partner. It’s a punch-line, bringing a gasp of incredulous laughter to the audience in
. Unfailing. Uganda
They informed a few other kuchus, who fell into the preparations whole heartedly.
Let it be known all over the world that, we kuchus are always, unfailingly good in the party organizing business. Increadibly, the secret still held. That is another impossibility. Kuchus are notoriously bad at keeping secrets. Don’t know why…!
Came a week to the wedding, invitations were given out. No, no cards. Face to face.
Was interesting. I, and my partner were informed by one of the grooms. He was being introduced. He wanted us to grace his ceremony with our presence, at the ceremony as those who have come in from the groom’s side. He insisted we be there. I couldn’t. Prior commitments. My partner could, and he reluctantly decided to attend without me. But, we are used to kuchus being introduced, by women. It is part of kuchu life here in
. There comes a time that the family, the clan demands that a man gets married. And, we do get married, to women. Uganda
Oh, we are African men. Marriage has never meant marital faithfulness. That is a foreign concept. Polygamy is part of a man’s heritage. For a kuchu man in
to be married to a woman, well, we take it as part of life. A necessary rite, even when we know we are different. It is necessary. Uganda
That is what me and my partner assumed. That it was a conventional wedding ceremony that we were invited to. The prospective groom didn’t bother to tell us otherwise.
Came the day, I was at work, my partner attended.
My partner tells me what happened
An enclosed compound, which was secured. Two armed policemen at the gate. Well, we can hire the police, like all other Ugandans. The details of the ceremony is our damned business. As long as they keep out inquisitive others. And, they did try to.
Guys arrived in their ‘introduction ceremony’ specials. Traditionally, it is traditional wear. It is a traditional ceremony. ‘Kanzus’ for the men, ankle length shirt like dress, white, with a jacket over them. A little tuck in at the waist, to expose the ankles, discreetly, to allow the man to walk without impendiment. The best, the most expensive are silk. Very smart. Women in ‘gomesis’, another very Ugandan piece of wear.
My partner arrived at the compound, and was let in.
On time, the ceremony started. It is long, with lots of gift giving, hyperbole, laughter. The grooms are not on show. Not at all. It is an elaborate ritual of give and take, laughter, noise, story telling. Introductions, rules of ceremony. With a master of ceremony on both sides (groom and groom), whose job is to make it as lively, as interesting as possible. The two compete to out do the other.
It is at the end, when the shy bride is brought out of the house. The one who is introducing her man to the prospective parents.
That is when my partner realized that, it was a groom introducing a groom. A gay introduction ceremony. In
, at this particular moment. Uganda
Fact is, the secret had been so well kept that, well, a number of people didn’t know!
My partner, well, his anxiety levels shot into the stratosphere. The buzz was, strong.
People were peeping in at the fence, and, the secret was out. A crowd was gathering, and the policemen were overwhelmed. A gay introductory ceremony was taking place, and, that was news indeed.
Music, talking, ritualized counseling. They happened, the kuchus now happy that the secret was out. They were delirious with joy. Two of their number were actually coming out and making their partnership official. In the traditional way.
Such gossip has wings. Crowd at the gate grew big. They wanted to know what was happening inside, in the compound. The rumours were too tantalizing. The music, the atmosphere of gaiety too tempting. They wanted to know.
Pure, absolute madness. Reckless, foolish, wonderful courage.
My partner decided it was time to leave, before it got violent. Signs were that it would.
Later, those kuchus who stayed told us that they started sneaking out, one by one. Cameras, that was the first fear. In all our finery, photos in the local tabloids can be damning. They left the food, drinks on the tables.
Getting out, for most it was evening. And, hearing the buzz of the crowd, many decided to disguise the fact that they had been at the wedding. Off the kanzus, for the guys. Too identifying. They took them off, mingled with the crowd outside, slipped away.
Sadly, one of us was attacked. He was foolish enough to remain in his kanzu. It was torn off his body by the crowd outside.
How are the grooms? Fine, for now.
Pure madness. Absolute, shrieking madness, to have such a ceremony in
at this moment. No amount of security can keep such a happening secret. Never. It was madness. Uganda
Pure, sweet madness, that I identify with. I know, I am also mad. Raving.
We kuchus, we gay Ugandans, we are also human beings. Seeking the simple, the wonderful small pleasures that all other Ugandans have. And, nothing shows that like our desire to be known, in the eyes of our parents, as a couple. Acknowledged, in the ultimate way. Groom and groom, husband and husband, wife and wife.
They were stupid. They were human. I love their stupidity and humanity.
Err, the punishment for this ‘gay marriage’ in the Bahati/Benson Anti-Homosexuality Bill in parliament now?
Life imprisonment for the Happy Couple. For us the celebrants, 3 years in prison if we fail to reveal the marriage to police within 24 hours.
If we are not lynched by the enraged crowd.
Sadly, now we have to deal with the backlash.
It was an exceedingly stupid, incredibly foolish thing to do.
It was, and is, human. Poignantly, absolutely, completely human.