Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Closet

We are born naked and open,

with age learn to withdraw,

a cosy closet to make;

With age, knowing ours

against the world’s very strengths;

closets we fly, embracing life.

Not so the gay;

the closet, a prison;

place of refuge, our very chameleon camouflage,

the hostile to stare unblinking in the face.

There comes a time, always

when the walls dissolve,

jelly on a hot day,

we are revealed, clothed, naked,

as we are;

The closet, bane ‘n boon,

to gay man, ‘n woman on earth.

The closet, we love to hate you,

hate to love you,

the closet.

©GayUganda 29 Nov. 07

Pastor Ssempa invited me kindly to shed my anonymity. I declined with grace, I hope. He calls himself a friend to the homosexual, but if he cannot call me gay, and he is a friend, then surely I do not need any enemies.

The closet.

I am effectively 'out' to many people. Parents, relatives, effectively out at work. But I cannot be out to everybody. Especially to my enemies, because there is a risk in that. Standing in the middle of Pastor Ssempa’s church people as they egged the policemen to go ahead and beat the ‘lesbians’ up, I felt very thankful that I was unknown. Unknown, unnoticed, but very much there. That is the closet.

When the policewoman came to look us over, searching for ‘lesbians’, there were lots of us homosexuals there. But she was blind, though her eyes checked each one of us. We were not many, and she stood for at least a couple of minutes. The closet again.

It is protection. It is safety in Uganda. And of course, when Pastor Ssempa and his friends knew of the masks that many of us had put on at the press conference, they went ahead to put our pics on the web and name us on their radio stations.

The acts of a friend? Maybe a crocodile’s smile is mirthful. I don’t want to find out.

For some reason, I think my closet is dissolving. A bit more rapidly than I would have thought possible. What will Ssempa do when he knows me?

Truth to say, he has known of me for some time, though not necessarily in this guise. I may find out the mirth in a crocodile’s smile.

(Nay, the poem is not much, but, it says something. I hope.)


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