Just been at my favourite bar on Sunday.
A good time there. Kind of fevers up near midnight, and continues late into the night. There were over 40 kuchus there, having fun. Really having fun. I mean, for those of us in the know, it was quite easy to id those who are gay, and we were having fun. Seeing new people, connecting, laughing, talking, meeting each other. Its a fun time. Of course this is a bar in Uganda, in Kampala. So, we see each other, and know one another, and there are lots of others who are quite oblivious of the fact that there are many of us gays there.
I did have fun. So did my partner, though a tendency to jealousy kind of spoiled some of that...
But I did have fun.
And, i wondered out aloud how come we were all so oblivious of the threat of the bill, the law that will soon be enacted.
Fact is, this is life in Uganda. We have fun when we can. We forget the things which can be clouds over the moment, and have fun as and when we can. Often, the money is the problem. And, the chance to have fun may be a bigger problem. A place of safety, where we kuchus can interact with a degree of safety and anonymity, that is so chronic a problem that we need not mention it.
So, when in our parliament, our MPs have tabeled a bill that would effectively witch-hunt us and kill us off, by judicial, legal murder, or imprison us for life, more than forty kuchus met on Sunday night in a bar and danced the night away.
Are we oblivious?
No. We are not. Quite a few people are concerned. As I am. And my lover.
On Saturday, the Rt Hon. Bahati, the one who presented the Anti-Homosexual bill was on KFM. He was embarrassed by the fact that there are some inhuman punishments that he is advocating for those of us who are gay. And his defence was inane. The law is necessary. To make sure that the govt has its say in this 'moral' issue.
I talked to one guy in the bar. He is quite learned, but not into activism as I have to confess I am. I told him that I couldnt believe that kuchus were out in force, when a law that would specifically designed to eliminate them from the country was being debated.
We are all human beings. Us kuchus.
I mean, we are Ugandan enough not to mind the various laws and regulation that our rubber stamp parliament enacts now and then. They are mainly redundant. They are made and remade, and are just stupid. They remain on the books. With nothing done about them. I mean, despite the fact that being caught in the act at the moment can result in 14 years to life imprisonment at the moment, we are still out there having fun.
So, this seniour kuchu asks me, am I seriously worried about the new anti-homosexual bill?
I could understand his lack of concern. But, I could also not hold it to good logic.
Granted that the law will be impossible to enforce. I mean, I will continue having the great forbidden sex with my lover, and it will be hard to convict me as a 'serial offender' who deserves the mandated death penalty. At least that is what I believe.
But, I do mind.
I do mind when my country is debating whether or not to put me to death because I am what I am. I do mind because I do not see myself as depending on any of my country mates. I do mind to have to beg my life of others who are as human as I am, just because they are straight and I am gay.
No. I will not be naive. The bill, and the law does concern me.
It will not be time to mind when I fall foul of the law, when I am accused, or my lover is accused, and I have to bribe the police, or something like that. Imagine having to be in prison for a year before I qualify for bail. Because I will have been accused of capital punishment. And, a year in jail is the mandatory time before I can qualify for bail.
I do mind. And I mind now.
So, we are having fun. But it is a house of cards. It can fall in a moment, and of course, at the most incovenient of gusts of luck.
So, what do we do? We continue to live. We have fun when we can. And, at the same time, we cannot forget to look over our shoulders. Because we must.
Yes, I do mind.
Wish I had been there. You are marvellous! I'm sure the bigots will bite the dust, sooner or later.
Even if you will never be caught in the act, you feel frustrated and betrayed and angry because if you were, you could be killed. The indignity of the law extends to the fact that it may never actually touch you, but it’s still there. It’s almost ignoring real people in that it’s useless and difficult to enforce, but still exists. It’s practically just a highly publicized, legal insult. It exists not so that there will be an active manhunt across the country the minute it’s passed, but so that if someone is caught, there’s a fallback law to wave around to kill one of its citizens. This law gives the ignorant, arrogant philosophy of homophobia legitimacy, even if the issue isn’t one the politicians want to talk about. Passing this law means they don’t have to “worry” about the problem anymore. It’s the ultimate self-defense. Found a gay man? Put him in prison; there’s no longer any need to validate his life or give respect to his argument to actually listen to what he has to say. Check, check, check.
And the best defense against this law is to flaunt yourself among yourselves. There’s no reason to be stupid and come out straight to a government official, but it would be giving dignity to the law to let it change your everyday behavior and to let it inspire enough fear to stop you. That’s what its purpose it; to stop homosexual activity. If one continues to engage in it anyway, understanding of course that no one’s looking, and not being suicidal, it’s civil disobedience. It’s self-respect. Living where you can’t publically condemn a law, you must break it among yourselves.
We´re not going anywhere...we never go anywhere, we´re always their brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, dads, moms, uncles, aunts, counsins, friends and coworkers...we´re REAL, we´re sometimes vulnerable, sometimes persecuted, but we don´t go anywhere, we´re Universal...we are part of the human race...like it or not, ready or not...they live in a world of righteous pretend, they have to...we´re making them face a shattering illusion that scares the sh*t out of them...rigorous honesty is like that (sometimes).
Keep having fun...let them suffer, complain, stamp their feet and dwell in the ugly and inhumane mess of their own making and faking.
It's so hard for me to believe that a law like this is a legitimate threat in today's world. That's my privilege and the naivety of youth talking, I suppose. Still, it seems unbelievable to me how barely over a week ago I was in my own country's capital city, marching and demanding equal rights, loudly and proudly, out in the open for anyone and everyone to see. That I can go from that experience to reading how you – and gay people like you in Uganda – have to fear of a bill that would kill you for the crime of existing …. It doesn't seem like the world should work like that.
You have real, fear-for-your-life problems, Gug, I know that; I just read that. I know your blog isn't even remotely about opening the eyes of some straight, white American girl's eyes to the injustices of the world beyond her own backyard. But reading your postings, that's exactly what's happening for me, and it's awful and terrifying, and I can't thank you enough for it. Sometimes it's too easy to forget that the battle for equal rights in my country shouldn't always over-shadow the battle for equal human rights, globally. It's a division in priorities, that's always plagued gay activism in the U.S. but reading your blog puts it in such stark contrast – marriage rights seem so … diminished in the face of people facing jailing and death penalties just for the “offense” of being gay.
I suppose that's the thing though – and I suppose that's why so many of your fellow gay Ugandans show up to dance and club with you – when it comes to civil rights, every battle is important. That's why I'm glad to hear so many of you are still going out; sometimes, I think, the greatest protest is just to live your normal life. By stressing the normalcy of your life and routine, you help to make the people who would advocate for such a law seen for what they are: the true abnormal ones.
In the United States, our gay rights movement truly gained ground with the Stonewall Riots, and the abuse of power by cops against gay men at a bar. I hope in the 40 years since that event occurred here, the world has evolved enough so your bar doesn't need a riot. I hope that the global community can pull through to stand with you, and your fellow Ugandans, to keep this bill from passing.
Please take care of yourself.
We are still miles and years away from equality here in the United States and that to us, is hard to fathom. That there are places in the world who not only still have anti-homosexuality laws on the books, but that some countries are actually in the process of passing laws, non the less those that involve the death penelty, seems unreal.
The hardest fights are those against fear and ignorance, and in this case both are on the front lines. It is so amazing how we will send soldiers overseas to fight for democracy and equality, and we send help to protect innocent civilians in a war-torn country but ignore the struggles of homosexuals world wide. It seems the leaders of countries have yet to open their eyes to how so many citizens of this world view homosexuality, as normal, natural and acceptable, how they cower behind excuses are myths so set on outlawing a group of their own people.
Until the day that you can march on your capital and push law makers for equality, until we are a global LGBTQ community moving towards safety and acceptance for all, I wish and your partner the very best. It is people like you who are changing the world and sparking the revolution, online or until the day it is in bars or on the lawn of lawmakers. Thank you for all you do, and mostly thank you for continuing to live your life in the face of oppression.
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