Saturday, October 30, 2010

Congo, and of course Ugandan Hate Speech

Is Saturday.

And, am having fun, relaxing at home. Enjoying a day off. Why not, seems like I have been too used to working weekends to adjust to off weekends.

Which, inevitably means that have to kind of reel in the thirst for going online. So, promise to myself. First, am writing this, then am going to take a very long walk through the lush countryside, walk the dusty roads, inhale the dust, ogle men on the streets. [Note: Ugandan men are beautiful. Bite me, but I am gay.....!]

Seriously, just want to take a long relaxing walk unwinding. For the week was a bit heavier than I expected. And, I need the time off.

But first, remember the 'words' post? I listened to Giles Muhame, and I was kind of disgusted. There should be a limit to hate speech. Or, is that limitation of the right to free speech?

But, amongst the thorns are some pearls for me. Like here, when he tells us what exactly is being planned. Weekly outings... uh.
Rolling Stone, ran a cover story with the headline: "100 pictures of Uganda's top homos leak."
A smaller banner headline had only two words: "Hang them."
The paper printed photographs of 11 Ugandan men and women it said were gay in that first issue but says it now intends to serialise the story -- printing profiles of 10 to 15 gay people a week until it has outed the full 100.
Of the 11 featured at least four say they have since been attacked.
Giles Muhame, editor of the fledgling paper with a circulation of just 2,000, is unrepentant and says he is protecting the moral fabric of the east African nation.
"I can assure you that we will continue to publish these photos of homosexuals," the 22-year-old told Reuters. "There is no doubt about that."

As to why he published the paper, and showed the photos of people, with the word 'Hang Them' above it, here is his explanation.
"We called the paper Rolling Stone because it is a stone that is rolling and bringing out the evil in society. If people are promoting homosexuality then the stone is going to knock on their door and smoke them out," Muhame says, laughing.
He says it was not his intention that members of the public would attack the people featured in the newspaper, despite publishing their addresses.
"We published the areas where they live so that counsellors could find them and help them," he says. "We want a death penalty introduced for homosexuals who are trying to brainwash children but we don't want the public to attack them."
To that bit of nonsense, the only possible answer is, 'Yeah, Right!' Just too flabergasting a justification to be taken seriously. But, Muhame, being a well educated young fella, feels it does justice to his sense of intelligence. Salute!

And, journalists being journalists, they do ask questions. Of the likes of Minister Nsaba-Buturo. And, he answers the questions. As well as is politically expedient from him. And, here is his answer as to whether or not the 'Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009' will see the light of day. The kill the gays bill of Uganda. Here is his reply.
It was quietly shelved under the pressure, but rights groups suspect it may be passed after elections in February that Museveni is expected to win.
"It has to be debated under our law," Ethics Minister Nsaba Buturo told Reuters. "I am confident it will be passed but with amendments, for example on the issue of death penalty. I don't believe that is the way to go."
Buturo said a provision for jail sentences may be included in the legislation but that counselling would also be available should gay people want to repent.
In the DRC, Zaire, or Congo Kinshasha, there is also a law in the parliament. Seems not to be as radical as Uganda's very own bill (repent or be killed).
Congo Kinshasa discusses criminalising gays
The Kinshasa parliament is in the process of discussing legislation that will prohibit homosexuality, or "unnatural sexual practices." But the debate climate in Congo is much calmer than in neighbouring Uganda.
According to reports in the government-close Kinshasa newspaper 'La République', Congolese MP Ejiba Yamapia is currently gathering support for a bill formulated by him that would forbid certain "unnatural sexual practices," including same-sex relations.
Congo Kinshasa (DRC), along with most Central and West African nations, does not have any legislation regarding the country's sexual minorities. This is mostly due to the fact that homosexuality is an issue not known to the general population, as same-sex relations typically find other manifestations in traditional cultures.

So, a much saner debate, is it?

Why is my sexuality such a threat to people out there? Don't know.

Well, at least the Congolese can blame Ugandans....!

Well, well, well. My day can be spoilt by all this endless speculation. Giles Muhame is supposed to meet the guys he 'outed' in a court of law on Monday. Maybe something will come of that....! Well, apparently, he didnt publish 'illegaly' as he had promised because of that.... maybe. Who can guess at the workings of that guy's mind?


Friday, October 29, 2010

They are only Words

Why do words hurt? Why do they hurt so much?

Words, I mean, like those of anti-gay rhetoric.

They hurt because they are supposed to; to demean, de-humanize, insult, and hold up to shame. They hurt, and do hurt bad.
I am a gay Ugandan. Means I have, perforce to grow a thick skin, crocodile hide. Cant be what I am without developing that. A necessity. Yet, they do still hurt.

In Uganda, we are kind of used to it. I mean, Pastor Ssempa and his 'eat da poo poo' tirades. That is not worth much comment in Uganda. Outside Uganda, well, it is a bit more of a problem.

Saw this note about the guy who had unleashed a homophobic rant on Facebook. American school district official, who believed that it was an insult for him to be urged to put on a Purple ribbon in rememberance of teenage suicides. He was offended, because the teenagers were queers. And, he thought it good that they had died. Because they were queers. And, he thought it quite good that queers give each other HIV during sex.
The posts were made, according to The Advocate, in response to a bullying awareness campaign sponsored by GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. The "Spirit Day" campaign aimed to foster recognition of bullying directed at gays and the effects it can have on young people through a series of events held on October 20.
One aspect of the campaign encouraged people to wear purple to honor those who had committed suicide after experiencing anti-gay bullying, and to show solidarity with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth who face the same pressures.
According to the screen grab obtained by The Advocate, McCance wrote the following about the event: "Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed therselves because of their sin."

Those words, well, they are tame in contrast to what Ssempa says on an average day.

I thought of Anderson Cooper of CNN interviewing the guy. Another of the queers that he privately railed against. And, one who had lost a brother by suicide. [Wonder, what did Cooper feel, talking to this guy? Throw off the poker anchor face, what did he really feel?]

Words, they are only words.

And, I have to learn to discount them. Because, words, unlike stones, or a rope around my neck, they don't hurt much, in retrospect.
But, words do hurt. And, they hurt real bad.

Here are the words of Giles Muhame. The 'Rolling Stone' editor. I am afraid Uganda does have its share of fools, especially in the homophobe category. Just like dear Ssempa, Nsaba-Buturo, Bahati, he has embraced, very gladly, his fifteen minutes of fame. And, he is going around talking about what he has done, and what he hopes to do.

Of course, he is not hurting people. Homosexuals are not people. People like Stosh Mugisha don't matter. Of course they are lying...! Of course we are lying. I have wondered how coolly they throw off concerns about us hurting. And, Muhame does me proud.

Think of Pastor Martin Ssempa, of 'eat da poo poo' fame. Think of him pontificating on a Sunday at his Makerere Community Church. His 'mission' is to youths. His charisma turns them on.
Of course, when he is talking, most of the people who listen are heterosexual. Most don't understand a gay person's dilema of faith and sexuality.

Think of a gay youth listening with rapt attention to Pastor Ssempa.

Truly, something to make one up and suicide oneself.

And, no. I am not advocating for that.

It does get better, when we can put people like Ssempa in perspective. But, at that particular time, for those people, for those gay teens and near teens... It is something terrible.

Words do matter. Words do hurt. Lots.


True Religion

What is true religion?

[And, why do I write so much about religion? Grumble, grumble...]

It is because I am a human being. It is because, as a person, I am a spiritual being...

No. I don't go into the mysticism. But, it is something that I cannot run away from in my country. Truth to tell, most human beings cannot run away from it.

A colleague of mine at work asks, apropos of nothing. 'Are you a Catholic?' Answer? No. And, he continued. Protestant (anglican)? No. SDA? No. Moslem? No.

Then, frustrated, 'What religion are you?', and cheeky me, 'None of the above.'

I choose to think that religion doesnt define my humanity. And, I choose not to choose any of the labels. But they are very important to us as human beings.
Because I say that, some point at me and say this is an anti-Christian blog. (Uh, that was Ssempa, you guessed.)

But, I strongly believe in a person's right to define their faith. I will not proselytize my lack of faith. And, I will look on in bemusement if anyone tries to proselytize me. Might make for an interesting conversation.

And, I will also stand for the right of a gay African to have a faith life.

Some believe that since we are gay, we cant be Christian, or Muslim, or whatever religion. I think they err. And, though I am none of those, I believe that a gay Ugandan, a gay African is also a human being. They, and we have the same right to religion as all other human beings.

Yes, I might have a problem with the logics of reconciling the faiths. But then, why do we call them faiths? Because they are faiths.

Even when others use their faith to hit out at us, demonise us, call us anti-Christ, kaffirs, anti-God, etc, just because we have a different sexuality, I still stand and say that we are human beings. And, a gay human being can be a Christian.

And, can be a Moslem.

And, I may actually find the words to debate one who says I cant be a Christian (or Moslem) and gay at the same time. Because that person is denying my humanity. That is my convoluted thinking.

I would really love it if religious people would stop defining their religiousness with anti-gay rhetoric.
I mean, in Uganda, Ssempa is the epitome of a Christian. Because of his anti-gay rhetoric, which is considered the very spirit and soul of Christianity. The Anglicans in Uganda.... well, it is all the same. That is why they excommunicated Bishop Ssenyonjo. He was not anti-gay enough. In fact, he was pro-gay.

I know. For the Catholics, it is the contraception thing, but the anti-gay thing also comes in.

Bahati... well. He says that it is his heartfelt wish to pass the 'Kill the Gay' bill. Make it law. Of course, for him it is defining something called the family, or traditional family. And, he still has hopes of it becoming law.

So, what is true religiousness? Why does my sexuality have to be used to define spirituality?

I have no answers for you. The only ones I have are for me, thank you.


Now this post was inspired by this post here. Who are the Real Christians? And, in my book, Desmond Tutu is a real Christian....!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tutu's Message to the UN

This was a while ago.

But, the advocacy from Desmond Tutu has been so consistent, and his words to me are such a beacon of hope in a world where I am condemned by fellow Africans that I have to revisit them.

Picking them from this website. Putting the whole here. And, I also reiterate, to those in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who want to criminalise the love of fellow country people.

His Grace Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Video message for United Nations panel:
"Ending Violence and Criminal Sanctions based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity."

My dear friends,

Today I appeal to our common humanity. The proud ideals of the United Nations are equality, dignity and respect for all, a goal that unites us across our great diversity.

All over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are persecuted. They face violence, torture and criminal sanctions because of how they live and who they love. We make them doubt that they too are children of God - and this must be nearly the ultimate blasphemy.

In South Africa, we struggled for years against the evil system of apartheid that divided human beings, children of the same God, by racial classification and then denied many of them fundamental human rights. Thankfully, the world supported us in our struggle for freedom and dignity. I am proud that in South Africa, when we finally won the chance to build a new Constitution, we included sexual orientation in our laws, because we knew from our bitter experience that an injury to one is an injury to all.

Once again, however, people are being denied fundamental rights and freedoms. Gay men have been jailed and humiliated, transgender people attacked, lesbians raped. Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa and elsewhere are living in fear. And they are living in hiding -- away from care, away from the protection the State should offer to every citizen and away from health care, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services.

This wave of hate must stop.

Sexual orientation, like skin colour, is a feature of our diversity. How sad it is that when God's children are facing such massive problems - poverty, disease, corruption, conflict - we are so often obsessed with human sexuality. Is there not already too much hate in this world, without seeking to persecute those who love?

Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God's family. And of course they are part of the African family.

You, at the United Nations, have a particular role to play. You have a responsibility. Whenever one group of human beings is treated as inferior to another, hatred and intolerance will triumph.

Lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people - they are our sons and daughters, our family and friends, our colleagues and co-workers. They are equal members of the human family whose rights you have sworn to uphold.

Those who face hatred, violence and criminal sanctions look to you for leadership, they look to you for protection, they look to you for recognition of their right to equal dignity and respect.

Do not fail them.

You must stand up for the principles of universal humanity and fellowship. Exclusion is never the way forward on our shard paths to freedom and justice.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Long day

Has been a long day.

Woke up in my love's hands. Nothing is as good as that....

Out of the house, walk to work, day bright. But, pregnant grey skies later in the day.

Was a heavy day at work. Sometimes it is busier than others. And, came home to pumping a bit more adrenaline.
The things that I do for activism.... we do, actually. Partner included.

What motivates us? Why are we courageous?

Because, we are human beings. Because, deep inside us, we cannot find it in ourselves to condemn ourselves just because we differ from our neighbours. I was asked, are you proud that you are gay?

I felt a pause in my mind, and asked myself, am I proud that I am a human being? I am gay, and African. I am gay, and Ugandan. It is just part of my identity. And, even if I am hanged, or sentenced to die, or held up to ridicule in the village square, I will not shade the pride in what I am. I am gay, I am African, I am Ugandan. That is what I am.

It is not pride. It is a simple statement of being. That is what I am. That is what we are.

And, as for those who feel that we transgress because we do say what we are, because we don't have the same scornful shame for who and what we are?
It is not my problem. My problem is realising what I am, and holding my pride aloft.

Yes, I know. There are many who will crucify me, shame me for what I am. That will not change me. I am proud of being who and what I am.

Of my detractors. Some do it for personal gain. Like Pastor 'eat da poo poo' Ssempa. But, he is proving toxic to friends of his.
I must not take credit for the guy's monumental ego. And, the toxicity that he spreads to friends and enemies alike is something that comes deep from the midden heap of his heart.  Here are some friends of his feeling the heat. But these guys repudiated him and his push for the 'Kill the Gays Bill'. They are being crucified for past association.

I write a lot about religion on this blog. Why?

I mean, I am not religious. Matter of fact, I insist on my right not to identify with any religion. But, in Uganda, not being religious is something funny. Just read this article in Time. Debating God in a God-Fearing Country.
When it comes to poverty, disease, corruption, issues of sexuality and tribal tensions, most Ugandans believe they need God's help. Even during the weekday lunch hour, they can be found filing into the capital's churches, lifting their hands to the heavens and swaying in time to Christian rock bands and dapper pastors promising salvation. A study by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that 97% of Ugandans are believers, and the fact that professions of atheism are invariably met with incredulity has prompted most of Uganda's freethinkers to keep their skepticism in the closet.

And, I talk a lot about religion here, because it is the most cruel reason that people, fellow Ugandans use to persecute me. They want to kill me because it is in the Public Interest. And, the religious leaders agree.

I have not been to those heady discussions.... don't know why. Maybe I should? One of these days, when am bored enough!

But, seriously, I do have to engage, and know about religion in Uganda. Because, I have to be able to confront those who challenge me on that. Because, even as a non-believer, I have to stand up to my right to life.

Amazing. And, increadibly necessary.

My love has brought dinner to the table. I am still in the computer... no. Will have to stop here.

Hope your day is good.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ssempa's Oats

Nominations in Kampala.

We have presidential elections in 2011, and that means that we have to go through the circus.

Pretend democracy? Sometimes I do think that we are. But, life is kind of like that. Yesterday, the city was flooded by people in the colours of the ruling party. Brilliant yellow. A kind of eye straining bright. Today, that has toned down.

Lover is back home. Am at work... feel like something missing. Oh, woke up too early...! enough said.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Parliament is supposed to be debating a law criminalising being gay and trans. Seems some people did learn from Uganda. They are our neighbours to the west. And, apart from exporting fighers and guns to them, seems our beliefs are also crossing the borders.
Know what, the differences in media, the differences in language, that bill has not got any tranction in the English speaking media. Not as far as I know, anyway.

Funny. I am a private person, in a way. Funny that I have had to learn how to use gifts that I knew not. Doesnt mean that I relish them, but, necessity is a very good motivator.

A Church in the US which supported Ssempa through thick and thin has finally dumped him. Ssempa is toxic. Very toxic.
He is very brilliant as a speaker. He is a charismatic actor. But, he is also a Born again Christian and Pentecostal who believes sincerely that other human beings should be harmed for the simple reason that they are different in sexual orientation.

Maybe it is also good that a fellow Christian has spear headed the fight of outing him for what he is. A lying hypocrite who misrepresents the teachings and ideals that he should uphold. But then, even when I knew he was lying and lying through his teeth, there were many Christians who dared not believe me.... But, it is a matter of fact that the church cleaning itself is something that is laudable.

Ssempa is still what he is. But, am glad that his wings are sort of clipped...! Problem, he is a very good chameleon. I will not be surprised if he re-incarnates. He is that good. Hey, he is Ugandan. I abhor him, but, there is a sort of sneaky pride, even when I am fighting nail and tooth to have him exposed.

So, life goes on.

Its sunny and bright in Kampala today. I know, the afternoon may bring a rain cloud, like happened yesterday. But, today is sun beautiful.

Hope your day is good.


Monday, October 25, 2010

Is the Bahati bill dead?

Is the 'Kill the Gays' Bill dead?

Sometimes we are complacent.

According to the procedure of the parliament of Uganda, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 was introduced by the Hon. Bahati about a year ago. Parliament is supposed to have three readings. The Bill had the first reading in parliament. And, it was then referred to 'committee,' which means what, I am not able to say.

But, subsequently, there were two committee hearings. They happened in parliament. One was with the religious leaders, minus the Catholics, who insisted the bill was great (at the time,) but for the death penalty, which they subsequently opposed. They were being virtuous, the Christians. They wanted our poor souls saved on earth by life imprisonment, instead of of summary execution for being gay.

Forgive the bile. It has to come out.

Now, now, officially, the bill did not die. It is still alive. Maybe hibernating.

And, it can be brought back to life.

I was reminded of this by the fact that Bahati and Buturo still hold out hope for it.
Buturo said the anti-gay measure will be addressed and passed "in due course."
"Of course I hope it passes," he said.

And, of course there has been speculation that the 'Hang them' Campaign was an attempt to revive it. No, I would seriously not put dear Ssempa past that. And, the fact that that issue of the 'rolling stone' had so much to quote from my favourite pastor kind of makes me wonder....

It is not dead. This sword is still hanging over our heads, as gay Ugandans.

Now, if that is a lie, I would love Dr. Nsaba-Buturo to correct me. He is more likely to know the facts that I, who is not a legislator in the 8th parliament of Uganda.

Now, the text of the bill, with all the clauses as it was tabled at the first reading is here. If anyone out there still says there are no clauses to kill gays, please....! And, it is not aimed at paedophiles. Gug, [that is me] and my partner would die by hanging, as serial offenders, if that particular bill becomes law today. Of course.

And, the provisions to make our pastors and doctors and parents report us to the 'relevant' authorities still stand. Oh yes, they are there. And, none of the 'denialists' should tell lies about what it is. If that bill ever comes out again, let us not be blind to its provisions. They are clear, and in black and white. Not even Buturo, Ssempa, nor Bahati should be able to squeeze out of the provisions that they stood by.

And, if they lie, by the gods, I will point it out, again, and again.


Lies and lying liars.

We are always telling lies.

Uganda's ethics and integrity minister Nsaba Buturo dismissed the activists' accusations.
"They [the activists] are always lying," Buturo said. "It's their way of mobilizing support from outside, they are trying to get sympathy from outside. It's part of the campaign."

[Gosh, I am feeling really riled by this. Want to strangle someone. Have to remember, yes, denial of the pain they cause is one of the most important characteristics of the virtuous Pharisee. All that they do is 'for your good' and, the 'greater good'. The pain is good for you. So, how can they see the pain of a simple, gay Ugandan like me?]

No. We [gay Ugandans] are always telling lies. To get attention. To gain sympathy. To make the world support us. To get money. [Note, I havent yet got the 20M USD that Buturo said I was to receive...]

When our names are published in the newspapers, and we are outed to the rest of our communities, in homophobic Uganda, we are getting our just deserts. And, when they throw words as stones, and they hurt, and we complain of pain, we are lying.


We lie that we are gay? Uh, no.... actually, for safety, we lie that we are not gay.

That is how we can fit in in our society, in Uganda. That is how we can get jobs, stay on the village, be thought virtuous and upstanding as our mates. And, gay people, gay Ugandans are out to get the children of Ugandans, to recruit them into the vice, to turn them, and corrupt them. How can we tell the truth? How can we say that we are the pariahs?

So, we lie. Bite me. I do lie.

For safety, to be saved from the likes of Buturo, and his friend Ssempa who believes that, since someone has told him that Pastor Kayanja and Father Musaala are gay, they must be gay. If they deny, of course, they are lying.

[Note to self. One of these days, I will come out and say, yes Ssempa, yes Buturo, I am so and so, and I am gay.]

So, the red rug and rolling stone publish details of us. Names, photos, recognisable. Where we stay, and where we work. And, if we are hurt because we are exposed, we lie. Our pain is a lie. Of course.

So, if Uganda is such a virtuous paradise for us gays, why do we remain closeted? Why don't we proclaim it on the roof tops?
Why have I feared for years to mention the fact that I am gay? Why is it such news when I am accused of being gay, by people like Paul Kagaba, who I have never slept with? Why is it news?


Of course this is not the first time to come across this. Fact of life. And, it is not going to be the last time. My pain is not going to be seen by my torturer. He, or she, just revels in the grimace, the torture that my soul endures at their hand.

Like in the recent gay suicides in the US. Those virtuous Christians who insist on their right to tell gay teens the 'truth' about sexual orientation. They must tell them. Because it is the 'truth'. Even when this truth leads to a child killing themselves. [sorry for the bitterness, but, after all, they are homosexuals. Good riddance.]

Yeah, there is a sort of horrified pain when I feel the total lack of compassion amongst people who I should not even consider.

There was that suicide of an 18 year old who went to a town council meeting, and listened to some horrific hate speech. No, he shouldn't have killed himself. But, the words that were spoken, bitter, terrible, hateful, those words cut him to the bone. He might have consciously stood up to them. But, he couldnt. Sorry man. It was a momentary lapse. On your part. But, what of your elders who did speak, the speech of venom, and them in righteous self congratulation in 'saying it like it is'?


They will not allow us the luxury of self pity. So, self pity we shall not embrace. Our lives, our livelihoods are just that more precious to us than to them.

[Shrug] We shall fight. Not because we want. But, because we must.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Guardian article; Being Gay in Uganda....


that was me.... talking about what it is like.

Was asked Thursday eve, thought about it for a few minutes, and, had it written in an hour. Was interesting. And, it was posted, and.... one of the quirks of my internet. Lost the net for some time...! Sigh....

Anyway, yeah, that was me. Being Gay in Uganda. Read the article...

Partner back from the seminar and was like, you did this? But, it wasnt really a problem. Seems like the 'activism' has rubbed off.

Be well... and do read the article.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Paths to Personal Peace

Am I hot-headed?

Don't know. Maybe I am, maybe I am not. I know I do have obvious gifts, and constraints. And, I know that anger is one of those double edged swords that I hold by the blade in my arsenal of weapons.
Truth to tell, if it was not for that searing anger, I would not have the courage to do this blog. To write of raw emotion, to spill all of things that are pertinent. At least to me, at that particular moment.

But, with the heights of anger are matched the depths of depression. When, seemingly, I find myself moving against the tide. Fighting, fighting, fighting. Self pity?
Yes, that is a huge quicksand pit just before me. Always.

But, there is always the pride of knowing that, I can do something. And, that I can do it well, and do it mighty well.
I don't know whether it really gets better. But, I believe it does. So, I fight on.

Saw this article about the authorities in Malawi. You know, the country where that couple was arrested, charged, and sentenced to 14 years of hard labour for gay nuptials. Love condemned, punished. The President of the country pardoned them. But, what amazes me is this from the Vice President. And, this is ground breaking. Because, the pardon was definitely under coercion.
Blantyre (Malawi) - Malawian Vice President Joyce Banda, has called for tolerance towards homosexuality, at a meeting hosted by the Inter-Faith AIDS Association (MIAA) held in Blantyre, Malawi, on 29 September this year.
Banda made the call when she officially opened a Religious Leader’s Policy Advocacy Conference in Blantyre, stating that same sex practices are reality in Malawi and that religious leaders need be tolerant on such issues in order to fight HIV and AIDS.
“I am of the opinion that MIAA is strategically positioned to bring faith leaders together to debate how to respond to HIV and AIDS, find ways of repositioning in order to tackle the issue of homosexuality without necessarily compromising the moral integrity of faith institutions”, said Banda.
So, any good news in that? Gift Trapence goes ahead to kind of analyse the statement. It was the international attention that has brought the focus, and the change in mind. It is certainly welcome.
Gift Trapence Director of Centre for the Development of People in Malawi commended Banda’s statement stating that it is an indication that government is willing to engage on issues of homosexuality.
“This is indeed good news to the LGBT community. It sets an example for other countries to take precedent and allow Men having sex with Men (MSM) initiatives in their countries.”
Trapennce suspects that the positive statement was a result of the case of Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga which rocked Malawi and attracted international attention and condemnation.
“Personally I think it could be attributed to the international pressure but nonetheless it is definitely a step forward for the LGBT community”, he said.
And, there is this from an influential former African leader. The former President of Botswana.
Botswana’s former president Festus Mogae yesterday said African governments and leaders must not enact laws that criminalise homosexuality and sex work, warning that such legislation would inhibit the fight against HIV/Aids.
Mr Mogae, who chairs a team dubbed ‘Champions of an HIV-Free Generation’ that comprise prominent African anti-Aids activists, told Zambian President Rupiah Banda at State House in Lusaka that homosexuals and sex workers were part of society and they should not be stigmatised or discriminated.
Mr Mogae said he had written to some African Presidents, without mentioning names, who wanted to pass laws to criminise homosexuality, advising them not to do so.
The former President, who explained that he is heterosexual, said in Botswana homosexuality was illegal but he had been engaging the government to repeal the law that criminalises homosexuality.
Due to his advocacy, Mr Mogae said “nobody has been prosecuted over the last three years” for being homosexual.

Just so that you dont get too exhilarated, at the same place, someone else, the President of Zambia, and churches, were blunter.... or, they spoke the usual.... which of course was not suprising
President Rupiah Banda says donors in Zambia glorify and preach to Zambian children that being gay is a human right.
President Banda was speaking to champions of an HIV-Free Generation, who include senior Africans like Kenneth Kaunda, fomer president of Botswana Festus Mogae and other individuals involved in the fight against AIDS...... 
But President Banda said it was difficult to listen to donors on the issue.
He said when the matter was presented by people like Mogae, ‘then you understand why we should not criminalise them, understand them and at the same time try and sensitize our children, young people.”
Of the donors, president said ‘they actually glorify it, they talk to our young people and making them believe that homosexuality is a human right and that if you appear to speak against it then you are a reactionary and you don’t understand the world etcetera etcetera,” .
But Bishop Joshua Banda, the chairperson of Zambia National AIDS Council (NAC) was very direct and said the Chmpions did not visit Zambia to promote homosexuality.
“We must be very be extremely careful on how we project this because we have not come here to promote that. Except that they are saying, ‘these are the areas where we really need to discuss’. It’s very strong on my side. We must be able to see the side of the church, how the church should respond to this. What the churches have done,”

Now, I get hot and burn, while debating people like Maazi here. But, I also get to acknowledge that we are moving, changing the world, our world and our communities, with our very presence. Us gay Africans. And, any society resists change. In obvious, and tough ways.

[They call us sell-outs. Well, they want to hang us, and expect us to go tamely. No way.]

When I started this post, I wanted to posit that, we gay people will always be hated. Kind of an easy conclusion to get to in a country like Uganda, where our country mates feel it is no big deal to ask for us to be hanged. In public, with not a blush or fear.
But, I did realise that it is the kind of negative thinking which precludes the fact that we are actually changing that. We may never know the kind of acceptance in Uganda that would allow me to come out with my lover as man and man. But, it is better than it was a few years ago. The fear is less, the fight, the focus is more. We are on a battle front, recognised or not. And, with sheer desperation, we are slowly changing our world.

Of course, there shall be, and will be casualties. But, as the video says, 'It gets Better'. Hopefully, even in Uganda, it will.

Cary Alan Johnson of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission describes the progress of African LGBT movements as astounding:
"Movements are more professionally run, politically smarter, more accountable and transparent, and more diverse. In almost every country, there are emerging organisations and political spaces for queer women, transpeople, those who want to be political, those whose interests are more social. Community centres and safe spaces are emerging continent-wide.
"In the face of much adversity and homophobia, it's actually quite a heady moment."

Here is the beautiful and personal, uplifting story from a Transgender Kenyan Woman.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe not as soon as I would love it in Uganda. But, I have to believe that, 'It gets better.'


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hang Them!

You know about the 'Rolling Stone' rug which published names of gay Ugandans?

Well, the Media council told them to stop publishing. Because they had apparently not satisfied the necessities of registration.

When I think of them, I get in turns angry and sad. Angry because, these are my fellow countrymates. Sad, because it was such a stupid thing to do, so dastardly cruel that I wonder how they got the guts to do it.

Hang them.

The message was clear. Unequivocal.

On the Throckmorton blog, I have been debating a few others of my country mates. Ugandans.... errr, I am telling them to stop thinking that they speak for all Ugandans when they piously point out that they would like us killed.
They are very brave, these guys. [Err, am sorry to say, but ignorance and stupidity put on a pedestal makes me cringe....! I feel ashamed. Damn, but, these guys are Ugandans!!!!!]

Here is what a guy who signs himself Maazi has written. No, he is not one of my less privileged countrymen. He studied, far. Went to Britain, and has trooped over to the US. For that matter, he considers himself sufficiently grounded in matters worldly.
that is why a new law is in the works to sharpen the penal code that deals with your behaviour which is totally unacceptable to most Ugandans of all ethnic groups, religions, gender and socio-economic class. It also explains why there is already a pre-emptive strike on the issue of “same-sex marriage” through the 2005 constitutional ban. What is missing is legal restriction on gay propaganda in schools and gay advocacy within the public sphere. You know as well as I do that it is only a matter of time before the anti-gay penal code is properly consolidated.
Elegant, aint it?

Notice the language of education... sharpen the penal code, pre-emptive strike, etc, etc....

The hate bubbles up, spills over, coalesces into form. Bet you he is literally forming at the mouth as he contemplates me, a Ugandan who just happens to be gay...

Gosh, such love, such embrace of hate!

Remember Buturo? Minister of Ethics and Integrity the born again Pentecostal Nsaba Buturo. Homosexuals should forget about human rights.
Yeah, barely human. Why should the bill of rights protect us?????!!! Not against this kind of righteous anger.

Anyway, that is enough crowing.

They hate me. But, hate is something that I have grown up with, and known. The pitiful 'rolling stone' guys who justify their publication like this
The paper's managing editor, Giles Muhame, said the article was "in the public interest."

"We felt there was need for society to know that such characters exist amongst them. Some of them recruit young children into homosexuality, which is bad and need to be exposed," he said. "They take advantage of poverty to recruit Ugandans. In brief we did so because homosexuality is illegal, unacceptable and insults our traditional lifestyle.'

So, anger, anger, anger....

No. Just have to channel it into better material. Make sure that the Rolling stone people fail to do what they want to do. Because, bottom line, I am a Ugandan.

Yes, my name did appear in the stupid rug. And, that was more provocation.... Someone told me that they wanted to 'capitalise' on our celebrity status. Got a huge laugh from me.

'Course they did.

'Course they did. And, they will try to do it again. Shall we take it lying down?


Monday morning

[that was yesterday....]

Reading a poem. 'the Queens' by Stephen Tapscott.

Whimsical look at gay culture.

I identify with it. Despite the yawning differences in our cultures. There is something endearingly familiar with the emotion described, the posturing, the yearnings and fulfilments of a people together and apart at the same time.

Sometimes it is kind of a wonder how similar we can all be. And, how different. Surely we are more alike than we can ever think ourselves to be? As human beings.

Is Monday morning. And, I am recovering from the weekend.

Was interesting, to say the least. Life is a turbulent river, with twists and turns that may seem pretty ordinary. Or not.
Friday evening, we went to a bar. Saturday was, kind of solitary. Sunday afternoon, beach and eye candy ogling, then 'the' bar. I, we were already high. And the burden of Monday morning a shadow on more enjoyment.

I remember dancing, dancing, holding onto my mate. I remember wondering how out I, and we could be in Uganda. But, there was an alcoholic haze that kind of dulled the impressions. Loud music, the shadows deep. The guys who kind of flitted in and out of them. And, of course the conversations, and flirting.

Managed to leave early. With my mate. Thankfully, he didnt go overboard because some unlucky guy made a pass at moi [sigh, sigh, sigh...] Tapscott puts it like '-the practice/ the disco, the visual flick of desire,/ the shock of being wanted:'

And, indeed it is. Both exhilarating, and conforting, an affirmation that we are, a people, and desirable in others eyes. Even when the others are like us...! No, was not going to, but I say it, fellow pariahs.

But now I am working from behind a curtain. Filtered glass windows, hazy. I know am fine, and good. Water, that ubiquitous solution to a night of carousing, I have taken enough of it to neutralise some of the effects. The sleep I will have to make up for, later.

And, my mind, that ever restless agent of thought, made me realise that, yes, I do care deeply, passionately about these people.
We are a people. A subset of the whole. We are a minority, will never become a majority. No, we don't, and cant recruit. We fear, and loath ourselves, sometimes... we love and hurt ourselves, each other. But, we are a people, a community, an identity that differs and gels with the rest of the 'others'. And, for us, maudlin as it sounds, I will do much.

Not for a vague, ill defined us, but for the individuals. The guy with HIV on drugs, deeply closeted, and trying to hide the struggles. The kid who comes out and blossoms, finding life an unseemly feast of riches. And the lovers, the many lovers, who reward our senses.

Whew, I will never be a Whitman. Die trying????!!!!!

Hope your day is good, fellow human being.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

More Ex-Gay Charades in Uganda

Did you think that story was ended?

Nay. Still ongoing. Because, we are still gay, and Ugandan, living in Uganda. And, people like Ssempa still claim to love us. In the name of Christ, of course.

Last time, was mostly about George Oundo. But, I did comment that Oundo fell out of Ssempa's camp, didn't I?
Do you think Ssempa would stop there? Not really.

You see, Ssempa is a Christian. And, a Christian pastor. So, he should ideally not be caught in a lie. Nor should he be caught in an act that is blatantly wrong, or evil, or bad.... you get the drift.

So, when George Oundo failed Ssempa, [poor Oundo], Ssempa found a new lieutenant. By the names of Paul Kagaba. He is the one to be blamed for any Ssempa lies now.

I must confess that I don't know much about Kagaba. At least, I didn't know as much as I knew about Oundo.
But, I do know enough [evil grin]. And, Kagaba is a character.

First saw him at a party. Yeah, he was with a lady who was later introduced as his sister/wife? Here, I am into speculation. I never thought to get that relationship down. Was not as interested in gossip as I am now.

Anyway, long story short, Kagaba latched onto an expatriate friend of mine. And, like a leech, seemed to be glued thereon for some time. As in weeks, far as I could tell. As these things happen, the relationship didnt mature, or go much further. [shrug, no blame to anyone], though apparently Kagaba did want to move in with the guy, but... shall we say the feelings were not mutual?

True, for a few days, they were a 'couple'. But, I am not going to be condemned for swearing about what was happening there.

Now, when that relationship dissolved, I was surprised to hear that Kagaba had latched onto a workmate of the expatriate friend. Also happened to be white. And, a woman.

My gossipy conclusion? Paul Kagaba was bisexual. No big deal. Happens all the time. And, most of us must be bisexual in behaviour. To blend into the rest of society.

Only issue was, heard from the grapevine that, Paul was trying to move in with the lady, and the lady was 'very surprised'. Here-say, so, don't make much of that!!!

Anyway, Paul goes back to his boda-boda day job. Personally, I thought he was just trying to outsource ready sources of money. But, again, that is purely conjecture.

Now, when the ex-gay movement came about, Paul Kagaba was in the second wave. Interesting. His was not the charisma of George Oundo, but, he seemed to be a very willing substitute when Oundo went missing.

So, back to the talk shows. With Ssempa by his side. Nodding, nodding, nodding, and confirming whatever Ssempa says.
Yeah, his english is not that great. But, he does understand enough. And, he makes up for the rest by being a very, very good yes man. And, a great liar.

As proof of his 'conversion' to heterosexuality, Paul Kagaba sent to our e-boxes a picture of himself and his 2 year old son.
Beautiful boy. But, I laughed. Because it was interesting to note that the boy was older than the purported time of conversion from 'homosexuality'. Yeah, I do have the pic. Clearly, the child was born long before Paul 'converted' from homosexuality.

But, this pic thing has some very interesting problems.

You remember the expatriate (male) friend that Kagaba used to hang out with? At a seminar in late Sept 2010, Paul Kagaba came to support and nod sagely to Ssempa's assertions about gay people. See, Ssempa would say that all the things that he said, Kagaba had confirmed. So, they must be truths. [Did he confirm the 'eat da poo poo' and licking of anuses?] But, I digress.

Anyway, the seminar. Researchers from Makerere. And, they want to hear from Uganda's prominent anti-gay pastor. Who appears with Paul Kagaba in tow.
Now, I wasnt there....!
But, I am reliably informed that Paul Kagaba pulls out a picture of himself with the male expatriate. According to Kagaba, he was 'married' to this friend of his, during his days in homosexuality. And, that picture was a proof of that. That it was taken at the honeymoon.

No. It was not the usual x-rated offering from Pastor 'eat da poo poo'. Just a tame photo of two guys, one white, another black, grinning into a camera, hands over each others shoulders. No rings. No officiating pastor to the wedding. And, I happen to know that it was NOT in South Africa, the only place where they could have gotten their nuptials celebrated on the continent. It was in Uganda, which has a constitutional ban on same sex marriages since 1995.
Maybe the 'proof' was of a white man shamelessly inveigling a black man into a hug? Don't know.

But, that is Paul Kagaba and his ex-gay career.

So, why does he tell the lies?

Curious, curious, but, we would have to ask Paul about that. I know, many other kuchus have some pretty worse opinion of the gentleman that Ssempa has put up as the 'face of ex-gay Uganda'. But, I can only talk about what I have seen.

Yeah, I have heard him asserting that we 'recruit'. He asserted that he was inveigled into homosexuality by one of us, a teacher, when he was a student. He is also the supposed source of accurate information to the red rug, and, more recently, to the 'Rolling Stone'. For some reason that I have not yet known, (have pretty good surmises as to why), Paul Kagaba, under an alias, was offering to be friends to some of us on Facebook. No, I am kidding you not. And, he was a friend to some, till we discovered that it was our profile pics from facebook that ended up in the 'Rolling Stone'.

Paul is very good at some very naked, blunt lies. And, are we believed when we correct them? No way.

Because, Paul always utters those lies with Pastor Dr Ssempa nearby. As his henchman he confirms all the things that Dr Ssempa utters in the purity of his love for the homosexual Ugandan.

Pretty slick, that partnership. But, I am proud to say, Ugandans are slick!!!!!


Friday, October 15, 2010

Ex Gay Charades

Was browsing the web and came across this article.”“Ex-Gay” is Anti-Gay, Disguised as Compassion”

The article is well thought out. And well presented. Tales of wolves dressed in sheep's clothing. So called Christians who will move mountains to hurt people. Just because they believe.

Gay youth do have huge problems growing up in a world that happens to be homophobic. That is a given. But, there are some pretty sophisticated attempts to make sure that they never attain a proper understanding of who and what they are.

But, the situation that they write about is in the US. Suprise, suprise, a similar situation is coming up in Uganda.
Yet, Uganda being Uganda, it is more obvious, more tear jerking. And, the ego and political motivation of the perpetrators of evil is even more obvious.

Back in 2008, one of us, a kuchu, fell into the hands of Pastor Martin 'eat da poo poo' Ssempa. This is always a regretable event. Because, Ssempa's hate of a gay person is so open and violent that you would never wish for one to fall into his hands. Those of us who experience it from afar know that it is terrible.

The guy who fell into Ssempa's hands? George Oundo.

Poor guy. We used to call him Georgina. And, well, in my humble opinion, George is a kuchu. Far as I know. Born, not bred.
Anyway, he falls into Ssempa's hands. Because Ssempa has a charisma that is considerable. He dazzles many with his antics. And, few are the ones mature enough to look past the hate speech, the crocodile tears, the blatant 'come hither' smile and fake compassion that draws youths. He says he has a 'heart for youths'. He has a very political agenda to use them to further his ego.

George Oundo had a chat with Ssempa. Went on to chats, and, he was dazzled. Soon, he was praying hard to turn away from his homosexuality. I met him with books that 'explained everything' as he told me. He thought that he had found salvation. Turned to God. Turned away from the evil of homosexuality. And, found a mentor in Pastor Ssempa.

Now, the people at Exodus will tell you that it takes years, not so?

Pastor Ssempa had George Oundo primed and ready to do his hatchet job within months. Then came the Anti-Homosexuality Seminar that brought Lively and others to Uganda. And, Pastor Ssempa unveiled his weapon of weapons. George Oundo.

He made headlines. A bona fide homosexual. Ugandans had heard of the tribe, but, none had come out to accept that they were.
Oundo reveled in the limelight. He talked about what he had been. And, he talked about what he had become. All in the name of god, of course.

But, Oundo being Oundo, the stories were not enough. Lies to colour and bolster the thin story line were necessary.
The 'Homosexual Agenda' became a reality in his words. He had been a prominent promoter. Now, he was ready to tell all. And, he was given space. On radios, in newspapers. How he went to Nairobi to be trained. How he did 'recruitment'. Curiously, he seemed to have the language of Lively and co down pat.

It became a media frenzy.

And, sadly, George Oundo, finding himself without much to say, leaped onto the chance to 'out' people. All in the name of god. Of course. With the ever gleeful encouragement of the men of god.

Names of prominent people rolled off his tongue. And, the media was titillated. Father Musaala was one of them. And others of course. Yeah, 2009 was a very long first half of the year. I was here. I know. I did live through it.

Yet, it is not Oundo's betrayal which is my subject. Seated to the side of this ex-gay telling all, was none other than Pastor Ssempa. Yes, there were others besides Ssempa. Pastor Male, Pastor Steven Langa, and others. All prominent 'men of god'.

There was a wave of gay people getting 'saved', and confessing to all their misdeeds in the evil time when they were gay. And, always at their sides were the Pastors. Encouraging them to name more names. Yeah, I was named. So was my partner. At rallies, and on fm radios, and on televisions. The stories got juicier and juicier.

Imagine. In dear, deeply homophobic Uganda, ex-gay people were demanded to come out in conferences and religious gatherings to tell all. That, they had been gay. And, they had done horrible things. And, they had been gay with so and so.
I watched one rally on tv. It was Pastor Male then. Brought out these guys before the rally. They were clearly unconfortable. But, the dear Pastor was on rampage. Ready to prove to the world the saving power of his god, and the redeeming power of his love. Sinners, former homosexuals had to confess. And, with much encouragment they did. Before the huge congregation.

Poor condoms. They were used. Thoroughly used. And, dropped to the side.

George Oundo is no longer the face of 'ex-gay Uganda'. Because, he 'backslid', finding the homosexual life too much of a draw. So have many of the others.

Do I pity them? Well, I do have a soft heart. Forged in the fires of Uganda.

But, the question I continue to ask myself is, how merciless are the men of god supposed to be in their fight against homosexuality? They used them, and like condoms, dropped them.

Of course, these guys came in handy in the Pastor Wars. When Pastor Kayanja was accused of being homosexual. And Ssempa, Male and others produced the witnesses. Guys who had gone to them for counselling, and revealed the 'dark side' of Pastor Kayanja.

The police says that the good pastors actually bribed the guys to frame Pastor Kayanja. That is what the police said. Oh yes, this was even more interesting a soap opera because it was real life.

Ex Gay charades? Oh yes.

And, the compassion of pseudo Christians for the lives and well being of homosexuals. Ugh.

Lies were told, and, sanitized and blessed by the men of god. Let aside the 'eat da poo poo', names were named, and, without a thread of evidence, lampooned in the newspapers and everywhere else. Pastor Kayanja was rich enough to take on the anti-gay stampede and slow it to a halt. But, the damage was done.

What of the ex-gays?

From what I hear, George Oundo wants back. But, we are scared of him. He hurt us, in the name of his newly found god of course. But, he did hurt us.
The lies that he told when he knew that they were lies. Don't know what happened to his faith. Don't want to know. His business.

And the others?

This being Uganda, the charades are ongoing. See, Pastor Ssempa is still on his anti-Homosexuality crusade. And, he may not be able to hurt me overtly, but, doesnt mean that he will not try. He still is trying.

And, why, I am still telling this story.


The Moral High Ground

I was over at the Throckmorton blog. There is a guy, a Ugandan. He calls himself Maazi, and he has taken it upon himself to educate these 'western gay lovers' on the pitfalls of their course of action. And, he asserts, in the name of the continent of Africa, how we shall not be intimidated into accepting the 'homosexual agenda'.

I have been kind of following the guy's seeming obsession. But, of a sudden I did lose my temper.

He is speaking in my name as an African. As a Ugandan. He discounts the fact that I am what I am, gay, African, Ugandan. Spouts hatred like it is a virtue. He is abusive, ignorant, arrogant. Certainly knows much less than the people he is debating, but, because he has a mouth, and a voice, he speaks. And very loudly.

Very similar to Ssempa. Pastor Dr 'eat da poo poo' Ssempa of infamous fame.

Ignorance is put on a pedestal and worshipped. The loudest, most demanding voice is listened too, because it is loud. And, the fact that it is stupid, ignorant, shameful is discounted. He seems to speak for me, as an African.

No. He doesnt. He shames me instead. He shames me as an African.

I came from commenting on the Throckmorton blog with the realization that we have to take back the moral high ground. The Ssempas of this world should be ridiculed as they richly deserve. Their ignorance, their hatred, their base vileness should be exposed for what it is. Thanks be to the deities that the 'eat da poo poo' monica went viral. He richly deserves the ridicule.

And, if he is stupid enough not to realise that he is showing off the paucity of his grey matter, well, it is his privilege.

In Africa, in Uganda, he seems to have the moral high ground. And, it is this piece of real estate that we should seize back from the likes of him. They are not moral, they are not Christians, the ones who want to kill and imprison whole parts of a populace, simply because they are different. The Ministers of 'Ethics and Integrity' who frankly believe that fellow human beings should forget about human rights, simply because they are homosexuals.

Yes, the Bahati's of this world should be exposed for what they are. Good that they were given the forum to do so. And, I did highlight his high lack of intellect. But, as we expose them, we should also claim the high ground by asserting their stupidity. For, that is what exactly it is. Stupidity. Crass ignorance. The worship of ignorance, in the name of ignorance. The deification of ideals, simply because a 'man of god' says so.

Saw this excellent article from the Independent. Ssempa, dear Dr 'eat da poo poo' Ssempa is the world's laughing stock. Nobody dealt that blow to him. No one but his very steps, his mouth that he opened wide, and wider and went on speaking, deeming charisma as enough of a substitute for ignorance. That is what he did.
Recently, however, Westerners have been learning more than usual about Ugandan culture. The reason for this is a YouTube video named “EAT DA POO POO,” which has been spreading virally over the internet. The video documents a series of anti-gay tirades by Ugandan Pastor, Dr. Martin Ssempa. Armed with explicit visual aids, Ssempa argues that what homosexuals do in the privacy of their bedrooms is simply far too disgusting to be protected by the law. Homosexual men, he claims, lick each other’s anuses like, “ice cream and even poo poo comes out...This one smears the poo poo all over the other one’s face.”
To date, the video has almost three million hits on YouTube, has spawned an auto-tune remix with some four-hundred-thousand hits, and is listed on Ebaum’s World, a popular archive of internet curiosities.
But, Ssempa deeply shames me. And, he shamed Uganda. As did Bahati, as he faithfully uttered what had been put in his mouth to say. Theirs is the infamy of proud ignorance.

Now, if I assert that not all Ugandans are like so, eyebrows will be raised.

But, I am a Ugandan. And true, even if I have had the luck to grow up feeling ashamed of what I am, I have to assert myself here. I am Ugandan, and, despite the pariah status of what I am, the antics of the likes of Ssempa, Bahati, Nsaba-Buturo and Maazi are deeply shameful.

It is simply matter of fact that not all Ugandans are that clueless. Not all of us are that impervious to common sense and knowledge. We don't all live back in the days of the Stone Age, glorifying ignorance as a virtue against the realities of knowledge and what the rest of the world knows as common sense.

We have to claim back the moral high ground from these nonsensical people. We simply have to.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

My Voice shall be Heard.

It is a pretty important voice, isnt it?!!!!!

Feel in the mood to blow a trumpet. Heap praise on myself for non-existent achievements. For, what have I achieved from my song?
Don't know... My voice is hoarse. Too hoarse... not the kind that is heard with much enthusiasm. And, my countrymates think it is a disaster for me to be heard. But, I am their countryman, and I do have a voice, and I choose to shout.

Now, for the last few months, I was off the air.

And then, when I came back, I started re-thinking my strategy. It is too easy to be a whiner. But, it is also easy to get on the high horse of righteous indignation, and let the anger burn and fuel one. It did me. And, I did what I thought was not possible. And the sword wore out the scabbard. Back to earth I crashed, and I was silent. For too long.

But, my voice has to be heard.

I have been following, ear to the ground, what has been happening. In the US, the sudden emphasis on bullying of teens, and the suicidal consequences. What happens in Uganda? In Africa? We don't know. Just got in touch with a former classmate who surprised me by confiding that he is gay. He lives and works in the villages of Uganda. And, though he confides that he is 'underground', he is frank that he knows of me. And that, I am 'over ground'. Asked myself the question, how is it to be gay and live in the villages, in the country side of Uganda? A nightmare...! What is it to be gay and a teen growing up, in the rural areas of Uganda?

I don't know. Yeah, freely admit it. I have fought my journey in a more urban setting. I know a lot about that. And, I know that we all come to Kampala.... the Mecca, so to say. Seek out the anonymity of the urbanised environment.

Hey, I know that a judge struck down 'don't ask don't tell'. Another of those curiously stupid laws. But, there are many of those. I have listened, and shrugged it off. Wasnt in the mood to open the blog and put down more of my opinion.

But, recently, I got across a report. It was made about HIV and programming amongst gay men in Uganda, Kenya.

I was disgusted.

You know of Uganda's fame as a country that has fought and turned the epidemic of HIV? No? Well, we are there amongst the 'greats'. It is in Uganda that many of the ground breaking research has been made. And, the politicians have been proud of that fact.

But, what of HIV amongst Gay men in Uganda?

Blank. A blank slate. I read through the report, knowing the facts, having lived them, but not recognising... because it is almost impossible to realise that it is only in Uganda that this could have happened. Homophobia is killing gay Ugandans with HIV. With ignorance. The people who matter in the country decided not to tell us that we were dying. They denied us knowledge, information, simple prevention tools. And, it was not a single instance. No, it was a systematic turning of a blind eye to everything that concerned gay men.

Why did they do this?

Because, doing otherwise is 'promotion of homosexuality'. The kind of thing that the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 sought to make criminal.

Such broadcasted thoughts like these from Ssempa, who is very influential in Uganda, and Professor Apuuli are the iceberg showing the dinosaur beneath the surface.
"Gays are one of the drivers of HIV in Uganda, but because of meagre resources we cannot direct our programmes at them at this time," Mr Apuuli, chairman of the Uganda AIDS Commission, said today.
and from Ssempa, this guy who cries crocodile tears that he loves gay Ugandans..

“These people are just looking at ways of legitimising their practice, which is illegal and deviant in our society,” said Pastor Ssempa. “Our previous experience showed us that bringing homosexuals into campaigns against HIV only gives them a chance to propagate their illegal and unnatural acts.”

If I shut up, I will die, and be thrown into an unmarked grave.

What beat me was the contrast to our neighbour to the east, Kenya. Oh yes, Kenya is homophobic. But, they are leading the way. The Kenya AIDS Commission serves gay Kenyans. They have been delivering services. And they are leading the way in research.

Why the difference? Insane Christianity. False moralising.

So, I have no option. My voice has to be heard. And, don't I love yelling!

Caution. I am going to do it so well that, I will be heard.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Sane Christianity

Know what, once upon a time, on this very blog, I used to be pretty bitter, angry on the subject of religion. Especially Christianity.

Hey, I was burnt. I had had it to the neck with un-Christian witness from Christians. The likes of Ssempa, Orombi, Male, and the rest of the ilk. People who believe that I am less that I should be, simply because I am gay.

Once upon a time, I was a Christian. Anglican.

Actually, far as I could find out, it was my paternal grandpa who was the first Christian in my family. So, very new faith, as for most Ugandans. But, he became one of the hard core 'savedees' after the East African revival of the 1940s. My father grew up in that home, and, for him I was a Christian because he gave me his Christian first name.

Yeah, and once, I made the choice of being saved, becoming an evangelical... like my elder brother, who is a pastor.

Well, I became bitter, and embittered, and later enraged by the seeming disconnect between reality and faith as I saw it. Now, I joy in standing on the fence... something which puzzles my bro, but, we all make our decisions. He is trying to woo me back to the safe fold. I am not convinced!

Well, I am also proudly gay. I am a homosexual.

So, living in Uganda, I have listened to the Church, Catholic, Anglican, Evangelical come out and lash at us with all their might, hold rallies, condemn us from the pulpit and pray for our death and destruction. Got to the point that my apathy had turned into a roaring, consuming anger. Against all things Christian.

But, like all hatreds, there have been a few people that have stood up to challenge my hatred. Christians. There is Desmond Tutu, of South Africa, and Christopher Ssenyonjo of Uganda, Bishops in the Anglican church. I find myself very much surprised by their fulsome embrace of what I am. No, I still respectfully decline the request to believe. Guess it is nothing but me responding to love, as opposed to hypocrisy and hate.

I have always followed the people at Exodus International. I am gay. Grew up in an environment when I was constantly bombarded with the wrongness of myself. I am glad I didnt embrace that kind of self deception. But, I do understand them, or, at least I think I do. After all, they are homosexual like I am... even when they deny it. What I don't understand is their apparent desire to hurt others, especially youths who are questioning. I know, it is deeply held convictions... so, maybe I understand. But, I am very glad that they can reverse themselves. Like they did in their support of their board member who came to preach Anti-homosexuality in Uganda. And, like they have done now, acknowledging that the 'Day of Truth' in opposition to the 'Day of Silence' was actually a promotion of hatred. Covert, misguided, and, in truth hurtful.

Sane Christians. Not like the Vatican, (forgive me partner), which fights tooth and nail to uphold doctrine over love....

And, there's Throckmorton. Very interesting guy. Yes, he is one of those sane Christians, for whom ideology doesnt seem to triumph over simple humanity. And he kind of finds that inspiration from the Bible that Ssempa, Orombi and co use to bash me.... hey, that is life!

Guess we are all different. No convenient thinking straight jackets, until we dress ourselves in them.

Take away lesson? Stereotypes, of any kind, never stand the light of examination.

What set me off? Younger bro. He was with me, trying to impress me with his 'nationalism'. Guess I was not impressed...!