Saturday, October 20, 2007

Stepping out of the Closet

This morning I (almost) did something that was almost too silly to believe.

I was talking to a journalist, about gay things. Anonymously, of course. Not in my great gay persona. I suddenly felt like coming clean, telling the journalist, you know, I am gay too. Kuchu.

I did not.

Simply because it is a reflex not to do so. And to tell a person that I am gay is like revealing the deepest, darkest secret that I can ever hold. When I used to play the field, I used to wonder about the fact that I would sleep with guys, and we would know only the fact that we were both kuchu. We would have sex (different from making love!) and separate the next day. Yet these guys could have got me into prison for life, had they so minded. Chilling thought. But it did not stop me from looking for companionship. I looked for, and got lovers. Some for a day or night, others for much longer.

Now it is years since I have been living with my guy. He knows (and of course I know) that he is gay, and well, we break the law as frequently as we can, time and circumstances allowing. Yet we trust one another. He would not sell me to the police. I would not do that too. Its like the novelty of the ‘secret’ has worn off. It is not news.

Worse, I am so used to being me, that I am becoming complacent.

I can talk with friends in the abstract about gays in Uganda, but not a revelation that I am one of the hated gay men. We can laugh about being gay in Uganda, the different things that have been uttered in the last few months. Yet to come out and say that I am gay would be a disaster. The person would talk; maybe not immediately. And I am sure that the likes of Ssempa and Nsaba Buturo would seek to hurt me in some way. Maybe to lose my job completely. Maybe to out me to other people who would be able to harm me. Mubajje would not be talking in the abstract about exiling gay people. He would be able to point to someone, that he should be on a prison island in the lake.

Paranoia. Here I can talk about being gay with only the fear that my anonymity may be pierced one of these days. But I am free. To give and take abuse. I can desist, or give it out. In the flesh, I am sure that Blake would seek to injure me, physically. His vitriol is too acid. His hate too directed.

Anyway, that clock of anonymity, I did not take it off when talking to the journalist. Yet I have done, and will continue to do many things which risk outing me and my lover. For people to know, beyond my immediate family, that I am gay. A homosexual that is proud of being so. I just hope I do not come across Blake then. Or Mubajje the Mufti or others. But this is life. I cannot predict what will happen.

So, I step out again. My secret is intact, from the general public, for now. (I vigorously deny that the Red rug outed me. It wasn’t me!!! If you have any proof, damn you and the red rug together!).

Yet enough of the people around know about me for me to live in a peculiar sense of a closet. I am in, yet I am out. And I will continue being out and in at the same time. Queer thought. Pun intended.


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