Friday, August 17, 2007

The Un-reported Facts

Yeah, by now the whole world knows. How gay Ugandans, Kuchus went out and held a press conference. And they did it in masks and talked about HIV and discrimination and being in hiding. It was published in the papers. The New Vision, held back by the government policy could not but hold back. The Monitor is more expressive. For example, there was none of the obligatory mention of the law which is the official symbol of oppression and criminalisation.

But there were a lot of unreported facts.

I was there. I saw. I witnessed, and I was impressed. Deeply impressed by the energy of these few people. I was deeply impressed by the fact that they did organise and were able to pull it off. The opposition to them is considerable. Not only are there problems amongst them, coming out to themselves, but there is a problem coming out to the world.

There was quite a bit of the untold story in the papers' records. Of course, in keeping with my 'anonymous' self, I was invisibly visible. Maybe for a little while longer. But not much longer I think.

Julie Victor Mukasa. Out for the entire world to know. The architect of the conference. The leader, and a pretty effective one. A man in a woman’s body, she told us. And she was mesmerising as she uttered the un-utterable words. Shocked the reporters, I could see. A few others were unmasked, but the majority were in masks. And the masks were telling. Not the black, 'Hamas' like masks. But some more comical, effectively hiding the faces but not the persons. I could recognise them, though not others!

The language of delivery was Luganda. That was an impressive strategy. We are told that we are not Ugandan. That homosexuality is not Ugandan. And as the kuchus of Uganda claimed their birthright, they did it in the mother tongue of a number of them. It was impressive. The word 'abasiyazi' is like a curse word at the moment. It means homosexual in Luganda/Lusoga. And they used it, bravely, repeatedly, making sure that they were not hiding in semantics. I winced the first few times. It was shocking to my socialised self. I have grown up as a product of my culture. But soon it grew normal to my ears.

Brenda Kizza. A trans-gender. She featured in the news last weekend. And she came out. A man in body. A woman in mind, and she claimed it, calmly, openly, shocking the reporters. This is a patriarchal society. A woman claiming a man’s mentality is taken to be not so unusual. A man claiming a woman’s mentality is shocking. She talked, the voice cracking. She showed the dentures that had replaced broken teeth. Talked about the months of imprisonment, and the beatings that she has suffered at the hands of the police. She is a woman in a man, and the trans-status makes her an easy prey. She talked of how she was forced to suck the penises of two policemen in order to release her.

What of the supporters, Beatrice Were, wowing always in the background. Sarah Mukasa, frank feminist. And one lady who was HIV positive and talked of the shame that it was the government of Uganda which was suppressing HIV prevention efforts for homosexuals in Uganda. I was touched.

There is too much which was done in those few hours. And it has had an impact on me. Personally, as well as generally. A few kuchus I talked to were disdainful. They think we are not ready to have this done. But hell, it is high time that it was done. It is great that I am alive to see it done.

Viva to all the brave kuchus who risked the stigma in the country to put a face to homosexuality in Uganda. May they be left in peace.


Unknown said...

WOW!!! I have nothing to say...

Anonymous said...

After reading your stories and reading about the terrible things that are happeneing to everyone in Uganda i wish u all the best in getting your freedoms and rights. I will research and help out my fellow ungandans in this problem. Thank you for informing me on this situation! God bless.

Anonymous said...

Bless u Julie Victor, u are in my prayers. What u're doing for lgbt Ugandans has no words to describe, and I love u for that. U are my role model!

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