Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kuchu Identities

We call ourselves Kuchus, us gay Ugandans.

Kuchus. An interesting term. It was a secret term before, but now that the Red rug published it, why hide? We are.

Kuchu. The term is apparently derived from Swahili. Not any of our local languages, but the why of it is lost. Some of us think it derogative. To others it is a sign of pride.
The best translation to English would be ‘Queer’. I got across this interesting article on homosexuality and Queer theory. It was of interest because it captured the essence of our identities and differences so well.

The girls are Kuchus, and so are the guys. The transgenders are also Kuchus. We all are kuchus. So, instead of going into the terms gay or lesbian which seem to confuse us so much in the community, we just say that we are kuchu. And that is taken as a member of the family. All inclusive and welcoming, or so we think.

Yet we are different amongst ourselves.

First time that I met Victor was at a party. There was this cute boy, (I thought), who the other guys were hitting on outrageously. Victor later came and talked to me, a few minutes. Apparently enough to rouse my lover’s irritation. Until I told him that the cute boy was a girl.
Victor laughed as she corrected my mistake, telling me that she was flirting with the others just for fun, because they all thought that she was a man. She loved it.
Later, I was to know a few others like her. Girls, women who hated being women, but loved women.

To my shock there were guys like them too.
At first I was a bit irritated. Getting out of my closet, I was quite firm in my gender identity. I knew I was a man who was attracted to men. That was ok. But I did not want to become a woman. So when I saw a guy who acted like a woman, I was irritated. Remember I am an African male. Born and brought up in Africa. And in our firmly patriarchal upbringing, it is early on impressed on us that a man is not a woman, and for a man to be mistaken for a woman is an insult of considerable magnitude. So I was shocked that there were kuchus who actually acted like women. And others who took on the mannerisms of women, and some who identified as women. They amazed me. I knew I did not want to be like them. They actually did not attract me, till I had the chance to fall in love with one like that. That (ahem) was a while ago! It was a considerable learning experience for me. I realized that though superficially similar, we kuchus were very different.

That was about the time that I started reading up medical texts on sexuality. Interesting stuff actually. We have a saying that one who has not traveled is the one who praises his mom’s cooking. Reading on sexuality opened my eyes to a lot of possibilities.

And I realized, that as a kuchu, or queer, we were not only diverse, we were a proudly diverse community. It is not only the straight who think that they are the epitome of normality. Even us kuchus have those delusions.

But we can embrace the fact of our differences. And so can those who are straight understand that we are different, but still human.



SpecialK261 said...

I really like this article, very scholarly and thought provoking...thanx for the insight..sometime we need to step out of the developed world and see things froma different prospective..

Anonymous said...

I have nothing against gay people, but would you somtimes just blog as a human being? I mean can you for once just not blog about how gay you are?

gayuganda said...

Hi Anonymous

Actually you can leave your name here. No big deal.

Thanks for the backhanded compliment. So you like the blog but not the fact that I blog about being gay?
But I have blogged on other things. Human rights (women etc), writing, Eid Day, Poems about Kampala, Uganda, etc. Of course the over-riding theme on this blog of mine is my sexuality. Big deal for me where I am. I am letting off steam, in a way. I am saying all the things that I cannot say in my country without some repercussions that I would not like!!

Yeah, I will blog as a human being. And not how gay I am!!!! Whoops, but I must blog about how gay I am too. Cant leave it out, don’t you think?

SpecialK261, you are welcome.


Unknown said...

Hi Anonymous,

funny choice of words. Blog like a human being?

Isnt a gay person a human being?

Anonymous said...

I liked this one. Cuz me to have come to realise that discrimination and being judgemental within our own community happens alot, which is too bad, because on the long run we're all kuchus, and human-beings that needs to be treated as such.
But nice blog entery though...I could relate to this.


I am told on good authority that "kuchu" does not mean "queer"! It most closely means "transgender" in the broadest sense of the word. "Queer" is a hateful, heterosexist term that foolish Western Gay activists have tried to "reclaim". People are trying to popularize it in Africa, and that's appalling. According to Frank Mugisha, chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda, Ugandans tend to shun the derogatory terms Straight people label them with.

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