We were meeting religious leaders. Those concerned with the problem of HIV and desiring a dialogue between us, gay men and themselves as religious leaders.
It was supposed to be a dialogue,
It had been arranged with us, and I was chosen to go. Me, despite my deep antipathy to religion, and all things religious.
Maybe I should not have gone.
I am a very angry, cynical homosexual man. And an unbeliever. And, though I claim not to believe, I have my country people’s respect for faith.
First spoke the religious people, opening up, introducing themselves. I was happy to acknowledge that in countries where comes the most hate speech (unlike
Then my colleagues talked. A Muslim from
I was the last, but talked the worst.
I had determined not to attack, but I could not stop myself. I do not talk of religion at home, my lover being religious, and me not. I discuss it with no one, because I find more hurt that way, seeing beautiful ideals corrupted, beautiful people hating me simply because I am what I am. I see prejudice glorified as love of me, hate for me counted as the heat of zeal.
They had introduced themselves.
I refused to introduce myself. Hid behind my anonymity, and poured out my anger, pain, hurt.
Just said that I am a homosexual. Refused to acknowledge that I am gay, because, in my eyes, they refuse to acknowledge that simple fact of my self assertion. Religious people.
I said I was an angry, bitter homosexual. An African, and a Ugandan.
And I said why I was so bitter.
Hate speech, being chosen by the religious leaders of my country as the object of hate speech. The impunity they had, the religious zeal. I did not spare them, because they have not spared me. From the Mufti and his idea of a ghetto on an island in
They speak and it is politically correct for them to hate us in
And they then go ahead and talk about love.
I talked about my loss of faith, a subject I didn’t want to touch, but touched, in the heat of the moment. I talked of the anger in the community when the archbishop intimated we wanted to kill him. Yes, we do want to kill him, because of his lies, and his hate of us. That may be true now, it was not true before.
I talked of my lover’s bitterness. He is gay, and a catholic, and with the siege on his faith by our religious leaders, he is no longer attending mass. And seeks a congregation that affirms him. And though in my pride I refuse to acknowledge any pain on my part, his pain does touch me.
I talked at length, and depth, and hoarsely. And the final hoarse demand, or cry for help, or, whatever it was in that heated moment. My deepest desire- please stop the hate speech. Because you are making us hate you. Hate is a dark desire, a ferment of the soul, and as surely as I would not like to hate you, I will hate because I am hurt, and all my rationalization will not take away my hurt at your hand.
At the end, they were quiet. I was stunned, both by the depth of my anger and bitterness, and the fact that I have been keeping it in. The angry eloquence, the desire to attack when they were surely offering a helping hand.
That is what it was. I decided to be open to myself and explore this part of me. My pride has walled it off for a while, but, I am a human being. And I am an African, and Ugandan. And gay.
Funny that in their desire to declare me unAfrican because of my sexuality, I have just become more militant about it. Hate and hate speech have that effect. You may hate without reason, but I get a reason to hate. And we can all hate well.
Yet I wish I did not have that hate, and bitterness, and desire to pound some knowledge into hating minds. Why should you hate me just because you do not understand me?