Saturday, January 2, 2010

The Magic of Music

My feelings                             

Yesterday. The 1st of the year, the first of the decade.

We Ugandans are a party going people. And, it is traditional that the first of the year is spent in a style that celebrates the passing of a year, and the coming of a new year. We don’t celebrate an old year until it is gone. Superstition. If you congratulate one before the stroke of midnight, it might be taken as a wish of bad luck. But, once the clock strikes midnight, then the pent up energy overflows.

Fireworks over the city. Airwaves jammed, both the virtual ones of the phones, all and sundry trying to reach someone dear with new year greetings. And the air, with joy, laughter, crying, hugging. The music crescendos. And the parties go on till the break of day, people strangling home in the early morning, red eyed, boozed up, sleepy, and roaringly happy.

That is what happened yesterday.
But, I am a married man. My man insisted on an early night, and I didn’t join into the festivities. Came break of day, and we welcomed the new year as only a couple can. Well, and truly. It is great to be in love.

My love had prepared new year dinner for some friends. Kuchus. They came, hangover from the New Year Eve excesses. Blessed our house with their presence as the first visitors of the year. We spent the day together.
It was wet, windy, rainy outside. Rain is a blessing, it is said. And, I love that weather, it is home.

Evening, and we went out.
By a trick of magic, my voice was supposed to be on the airwaves. The BBC. From Bush House, London- and, the voice was discussing whether gay marriage is a right too far, for us gay people.
Curious question. Curious topic.
I am fighting for our lives and freedom in my country, Uganda. Why inflame the debate with the sceptre of my desire for marriage? For competition with the ‘traditional family’? that the Rt. Honourable Bahati wrote this genocidal bill to defend against the likes of me, putting me in prison and to death for any of my infringements on it?

Some time past, I would never have done that.
What convinced me was this gay wedding ceremony, in Uganda. And, the one in Malawi.
We, as in we kuchus, homosexuals, we are human beings. We are a diverse, different and separate people. Even as we lust for life, love and the pleasures of sex, we also are deeply in need of self knowledge. Self acceptance. Self realisation.

Strategically, I might say we are not ready for gay marriage in Uganda.
But, others of my mates, kuchus, disagree. They feel the stirrings of love. They want to celebrate their love. They want to celebrate their commitment. They want their love acknowledged by the community that they live in.

And, more importantly, one is only young once. Time goes on. We are not going to reverse time when we can. We can only be happy NOW. Today, not in a blissful, hoped for future.

No. There is no ‘gay agenda’. We are simply human beings that seek to get the small things in life that are.
So, we want to celebrate our union. Not in secret, not in rumours. We go out and get married. Even when we risk life in prison, as will be the case in Uganda. Or, even when one gets 14 years in jail for Gross Indecency line in Malawi. How can an act of love like that be so desperately punished? Why, cant homosexuals be human, like the rest of humanity?

So, gayuganda’s voice did appear on the ‘Have your Say’ programme of BBC. Or, in bits and fits, the voice tried to bounce off the waves in Uganda, Britain, the world. The technology was not that good. [rueful grin].
Hey, I thought I was supposed to be anonymous?
There is a point when hiding and fighting in the shadows is no longer feasible. One may believe that it is logical to reveal the enemy who hides. Yes, maybe. But be careful what you wish for.

Afterwards, we went to our favourite bar on Friday.
True, this was a very special day. The first of the year, 2010.
The crowd was sparse. Everyone is getting over the excesses of New Year’s eve. Even the waiters were bleary eyed.
I was fresh, energised. I felt like dancing. And, that is exactly what I did. Get up and dance. After a few drops of fortifying drink.

The music flowed. The air pulsed, and, my body felt young and vigorous. I danced.
My partner, he was not into the music. Sad, that.
But, there was a trans friend who had come in. Dressed to kill. Flamboyant. Drawing glances which would slide off him, embarrassed for themselves. Too flamboyant, too gay, too kuchu.
He would try to dance with a guy, and they would slide away from him. Not wanting an obviously gay guy to hit on them. Even if they were gay…!

My feelings. I remembered one of the discussants on the BBC programme having issues with what I said. Apparently, my reasons were too weak. Based on feelings. My emotions, my ‘love’ is not really love, the lady from Spain seemed to say.

I also remembered Pastor Martin Ssempa rubbishing my writing as based on my ‘feelings’. Feelings in quotes.
Why, are my feelings not valid? I do not have the reading, the excessive knowledge to know the full biology of my sexuality. I don’t know what the experts say, and the studies which prove one thing over another. I am a poor Ugandan, in a backward backwater in Central Africa. Why should I need to have that to debate my sexuality, my right to life and freedom? Why cant I know myself? Why do others, others who admittedly hate me, need to validate what I am?

Why arent MY feelings valid?

I was dancing, swaying and twisting to the very loud music as these thoughts went through my alcohol dazed brain. I thought, I will write about this. The title will be ‘My Feelings’. And, I looked at the trans guy, and I decided that, even if dancing with him outs me fully, his feelings do matter.

He wants to dress, flamboyant, flashy in Uganda. That is an expression of what he is, of what he feels. He might not fully understand himself. He might know less about what he is than I do know. Life is a journey, and he is still discovering what it is. In a place and hostile to gender role crossing like Uganda, his is a difficult journey. A very lonely journey even when he seems to be so confident and bright, a kingfisher bird amongst weaver birds.

I didn’t take pity on him.

I understood what he felt. And, I understood what I felt. And, we danced. Right there on the floor, with other guys around us, looking on.
The music flowed, life pulsed, the lights throbbed. And, we were in heaven.
I truly felt I could have continued to the break of day.

My partner is less blasse about me outing myself. He intervened… Dragged me off to bed. Or, he might just have been jealousy of me dancing with another guy…. Sadly, my reputation follows me into the new year.

But, I loved it. I loved the freedom within the oppression. I loved being myself, dancing to the music, feeling freedom and, defiant.

No. It is not a kuchu bar where I was dancing, with my friend. It is a straight bar. But, there are no kuchu bars in Uganda.
I loved it.

Just hope the music continues through the year, and, we all find that much more satisfaction. Happiness, contentment, one can have even in one’s worst nightmares. Life for a gay person in Uganda is tough. It is much worse for trans men. But, the strength and bulwark of their feelings make them surmount that mountain.

Have a wonderful new year.



Peter said...

I've just discovered your blog by a famous UK gay newspaper. I'm sorry but you're making a mistake from the first line. january 1st 2010 doesn't start a new decade but december 31st 2010 will close one. (The year 2000 was part of the 20th century and the 21st one started on january 1st, 2001 !!!)

Anyway, longlife to your blog I added to my Google Reader account.

Josh said...

Harmony in society depends on valuing all the notes of music, all the colours, all the diversity, all the ingenuity, of all the people.
Some are frightened by strange sounds.
They want us all to march to the same martial drum, to sing from the same hymn sheet. They want to control how we sing and how we dance.
We must resist.
Nobody should be forced to dance to another's tune.
Everyone should be free to express their joy and love.
Thank you Gug for your poetry, for your sensitivity and for your dancing.
Happy New Year

Jackfruity said...

This is beautiful, Gug. I'm hoping the music continues.


Hey,even though am NOT gay,i support your compaign. Good luck in 2010

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