What is it to be gay in Africa?
Tough of course. How else can it be?
Being trans, knowing from child hood that you are different. The monica boy-girl. Curious, cruel, from fellow children. Who know nothing, but that they would never ever like to be like you. Or, going through puberty, and the time of surging hormones, and discovering that you are different in your objects of desire. Or, later in life, having successfully gone the conventional road, and, discovering that which is not so often trod.
The confusion is personal.
The knowledge that you are indeed different. The desire, the drive to be more or less than what you are.
Do you hide it? What if, like a trans in Uganda, you can never hide it? And your playmates, your mates just know you are gay and different without having to ask? When those in the know, older and more world wise, are very willing to take advantage of the emotions that you cannot hide, that you believe that you can, and are written on your face, in your stride, all down the street?
Boy-girl, man-woman. A man who is a woman, and unable to be different…
What is it to hear scorn poured out on you at all hours, in all seconds, minutes of the day?
Some of us hide. Very successfully. We hide through adolescence, when the hormones are high and surging, when the thoughts are confused, and the appeal of our friends and mates matters more than anything else. When the one thing that we would never want to be, is that dreaded word, different?
We hide. And seek mates, of the opposite sex.
We get children early, to show, to make our world believe that we are different. Or we run away and hide from everything that would dare remind us of how different we are.
But, we cannot hide away from ourselves.
Our doctors deal with all sorts of problems of ours-
and we never, ever dare to say that we know the problem. That we are different.
Where do you seek for help?
The government? Politicians make lots of capital, bashing us. Even when they know different, even when they know that all that they are after are the votes, or the populace occupied with something that does not really matter…
the Church, the Mosque-
they are the worst. From pulpits, that seem holy, despite the words of hate and venom pouring out of the mouths of the preachers.
Does anyone ever think of the fact that we are spiritual beings?
Definitely not the Church in Africa. The political capital to be made by loudly shouting and drowning out any words of reason is too great to ignore. And, the scriptures, those holy words written eons ago, they have fixed the brains, even those unborn. They have to be believed. And, they say, stone. Throw the stones, make the whole world know how holy and special you are. Throw the stones.
When preachers hold us in contempt, inside and outside the confessional-
when the crowds gather, and are ready to laugh in contempt, to cry and howl for blood- when the mere rumour of 'marriage' will bring out the preachers to 'Operation Gays Out'-
What toll does that have on us?
One thing that we are is, resilient.
We are gay. And, for eons, we have had the same trial by fire.
We drop on the way. We believe we can change. We embrace the preachers of shame and hate like they are our straw in the midst of the sea of change. They rape our minds, they destroy our bodies, they force the self hatred inside.
And we still survive.
We are, resilient. We are tough.
Oh, inside us is the seed of rebellion. The fight that will surprise those of us who are not what we are. The need to stand out against the stream. Forced, defiant, stubborn. To affirm who we are, despite the corruption, those who would overtly and covertly take care of us, in words, deeds, and the silence of shame.
Few will understand the healing power of desperation, when we accept who we are. When we stand up and fight, and say, enough is enough.
Then, not even the winds of the hurricane of genocide will stand in the way. Not the lies that are so often, so blatantly said of us. We affirm that they are lies, and we go out to fight, with nail and tooth, with blood and water.
Our weapons are few and blunt. But, our asset, the basic humanity of our being, that is strong, and real.
We are, Gay, in Africa.
We shall overcome.
Gug, this is a wonderful and powerful post, an experience that needs writing about again and again, something that only those who know we are different - gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex - can have any knowledge of. Nor can so-called orthodox people of faith, Moslem or Christian, have any idea of the pain, anger and depression they create in us - thanks for writing so creatively and having the awareness to write personally about core experience. Colin
Thank you, gug! So true!
I found this - and it's the same thing I read from this text they talk about, and I have talked about this to some theologians - and most of them agree with me. Most "christians" don't read the Bible - they just listen to propaganda...
Beautiful writing! For a moment I felt like the vulnerable but powerful hearts of all gay and queer people were throbbing in my own. Love is a force stronger than religious delusional disorder. God knows that, and she is on our side. Wish you a very good weekend, dear!
Doctors, here have always dealt with these issues, though there's no deliberate or coherent health policy for the "obvious" reasons. Indeed we were the first to voice concerns that the confidentiality of doctor-health client was at stake with this bill, and would be an encumberance to our job which is wholly dependent on establishing rapport. Believe it or not, physicians are the more level headed souls out there, we only deal with ailments, not politics/ideology or at least we leave any prejudice at the door.
dont speak for all. Because you are 'liberal', dont dare think that all are.
Let me give you an example. The reason why there is almost no HIV prevention program for MSM in Uganda is because Kihuumuro Apuuli does not believe in 'promoting homosexuality'
and, speaking as a gay Ugandan, I can site too many incidents when doctors have been homophobic, including a time when we went to Makerere medical school to talk about sexual orientation and we had to run out because people in the audience had come armed with the Bible and Qurans, and, they were not amenable to reason.
that is enough, aint it?
Of course we have enough more personal anecdotes. Dont you dare think that doctors are free from homophobia. It is too easy to prove otherwise.
I agree with Colin, GUG you're an inspirational writer and just speaking your mind. You need to be gay to understand the meaning of this powerful article.
Thanks for speaking for us
LGBT folk, regardless of ethnic heritage or cultural background, are not "queer". We must work hard to rid ourselves of heterosexist perceptions of ourselves. That is an essential step in liberating ourselves.
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