Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Of HIV, AIDS, and 'Structural' Impendiments

Work follows me everywhere.....

Sigh. Some would say I am a workaholic, and thus should not 'grumble' about that fact. But, why ever not? Grumbling, even when it is of a thing that I would rather do, reminds me of the fact that I have the option NOT to do it.... LOL. Twisted reasoning, if there was any.

But blogging is one thing that I can usually spare some time for. Was just reading an article about HIV. The very first report of the cases of HIV that appeared in the scientific literature. Funny. HIV has become one of the most important, and significant things in this kuchu's life. So, it is important to remember that in a few days time, it will be the 30th anniversary of the very first reports. Here is one doctor's account of those days.

Three decades ago, the June 5, 1981, issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) reported on five previously healthy young gay men in Los Angeles diagnosed with pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), an infectious disease usually seen only in people with profoundly impaired immune function. As a specialist in infectious diseases and immunology, I had cared for several people with PCP whose immune systems had been weakened by cancer chemotherapy. I was puzzled about why otherwise healthy young men would acquire this infection. And why gay men? I was concerned, but mentally filed away the report as a curiosity.
One month later, the MMWR wrote about 26 cases in previously healthy gay men from Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, who had developed PCP as well as an unusual form of cancer called Kaposi's sarcoma. Their immune systems were severely compromised. This mysterious syndrome was acting like an infectious disease that probably was sexually transmitted. My colleagues and I never had seen anything like it. The idea that we could be dealing with a brand-new infectious microbe seemed like something for science fiction movies.

Well, am a kuchu. And, the first reports were amongst gay men. So, no wonder this 'new' microbe has played a role in my life. 
I am also a Ugandan. And, in the dark days of the 80s, 90s, when almost each and every Ugandan had a relative, or knew a relative who died of HIV/AIDS.... OK, this disease knows no discrimination. Kudos to the people who have fought it down the decades, and others who continue to fight it today, and tomorrow. The human race has risen up magnificently to a new threat. Though the challenges continue.

Fascinatingly, here is an HIV/AIDS timeline. Not really Ugandan. But, fascinating.

I have learnt that the Anti-Homosexuality bill (Bahati's Bill) is a 'structural barrier' to HIV prevention. Now, now, now... trust medics to come up with fancy names for something as simple as wanting to say that the bill is not conducive to HIV prevention amongst gay Ugandans. What happened to simple to understand language?

This structural impendiment, aka the Bahati Bill, will it come back?

Tired but elated, Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, a whip-thin 30-year old Ugandan with long braids and a man's shirt, smoked cigarettes and rested at her bar in a Kampala suburb. She had named the place Sappho, after the Greek poet and lesbian icon, and that night there would be a party.
More than 18-months of struggle, fear, threats, the murder of one of her closest friends, and the hatred of politicians and religious leaders, Nabagesera felt she could finally breath again.
"Today is a victory for gay people in Uganda and for the whole world. The bill is dead," she said.

Yep. But, at the end of the article is Bahati firing back.

Friday's shelving of Bahati's anti-homosexuality bill is a victory for Uganda's hidden gay community, but it is not the end of the anti-gay legislation.
Speaking to GlobalPost, Bahati insisted he will propose similar legislation.
"In the next parliament I will be moving forward to ensure we have a law to stop recruitment and promotion [of homosexuality]," he said.
Bahati said that the death penalty would be removed from the new version of the bill but added, "This is not the end … we have just pressed a pause button but in a few days from now, when the next parliament starts, we will press the play button again."

LOL, of course we knew it.

Bahati gained lots of kudos for introducing the bill in Uganda's parliament. He won the election 'unopposed'. Granted, that can mean a lot of things in dear, beautiful Uganda. But, he did. And, he is into the new parliament. It was actually speculated that he would become the new minister of Ethics and Integrity.... after the unlamented Nsaba Buturo...

Did Bahati get a post? I don't think so....

But, the structural impendiment to HIV prevention is still on the table. Buturo, Ssempa, Bahati, Langa the ideologue... they are all still up and strong.

But, we kuchus live another day to fight.

Hope you are well!


Monday, May 30, 2011

Sins of Omission.

Not saying that I am gay. Or that the man that I am with, the one that my eyes follow everywhere, fascinated, enraptured, that my heart lights up to when he dances in a freedom of freedoms, that that man is my man and my lover....

Gosh, how complicated that thing is. To be, and yet not to be. To hold out to myself, and others, those who know me deeply, significantly, and are yet unwilling to completely accept me for who, what I am. Are not ready to accept me for what I am.

A few weeks ago, I told my mom that I might get married. She was happy, beaming. She told me that I had wasted enough time as it was.

Wait a second.....

OK, I clarified. I would like to marry a man.

That took the joy out of her like air out of a bubble.

But, she is my mom. I came happy to share this wonderful news with her. And, she was simply not happy enough to acknowledge my happiness.
I was hurt. Like all kids, I expected my mom to understand. At least she would understand. But, she didnt.

Hurt, I left her. We were too far apart for us to try and bridge the distance. I have not seen her since.... LOL... ok. I will correct that. Because she remains my mum.

But, why should I omit my source, my depth of happiness from her?

Sadly, at least for the short term, it might have been better if I had ommitted telling her that I wanted to marry a man, and not a woman. Here is George Ayala on the politics of omission for the gay human.

I love the meaning behind the meaning in these soaring words. Omission, not coming out has a price that we pay. We may pay it little by little, or at once. But, we pay it. And, it takes courage to pay that price. Here is the quote, albeit in a different contest...

Many gay men and women have a deep and complicated relationship with the concept of omission. The choice to leave out information about our sexual orientation can be a useful strategy when faced with the potential for an awkward, painful, or violent situation. It placates sensitivities, prevents discord, and in some cases it saves our lives. However, it also preserves the status quo.
With such compelling reasons to bite our tongues, many of us choose silence as homophobia takes its toll around us. Lips sealed and hands tied, we watch in quiet pain as abuses are inflicted on our more visible kin. We become unwitting accomplices to those who wish to erase us. Realizing the effects of our own inaction, more and more of us have come to feel that this path of least resistance is not worth the violence and injustice it allows – and we speak up.

You would say that I am being nostalgic, but, here is another, a testimony from a place far away in Asia.

Abuse traumatizes gay community
VietNamNet Bridge - Researchers call for greater public awareness about the consequences of homophobic discrimination.
The gay  community is looking for more tolerance from the society.
A 20-year-old homosexual in Hanoi told researchers that discrimination from his classmates and parents had driven him to attempt suicide three times since the age of 14.
"The only thing I could think of doing was to die," he said.
He made his first attempt in the 8th grade, after his classmates mocked him and his parents beat him.
The young man told researchers that he ingested rat poison but recovered from the effects the following morning.
"I did not know anyone like me and was so lonely and hurt because of what my family and classmates did to me," he said.
Next time, he tried sleeping pills, he said, — only to vomit them all up.
In his third and final attempt to take his own life, the young man went to a quiet spot near the Nga Tu So underground tunnel. He took sleeping pills again and hoped to die alone.
But someone discovered him and took him to the police who later transferred him to hospital assuming he was a drug addict who had overdosed.
Cases like his are not rare in Vietnam.

How common are they in a country like Uganda?

I remember a kuchu, a guy of 22 who came to talk with me. Just wanted to talk.... And, he tells me that he used to act gay, but no longer does now. That he attempted suicide once, but would not do it now... 

He is deeply religious. A pentecostal Christian that I have to remind again and again that I am a non-believer who does not take well to being preached to or at.....

And, he is still a believer. And kuchu.....

Sigh.... my solutions are not other people's solutions.

And, in case you want to know, my dear mother will be blessed by another son, my husband, whether she likes it or not.

It is her challenge, my privilege. She is my mother. That carries the usual blessings and curses... if you call them that. Yes, I know, she is a Ugandan mother to a kuchu son. But, if I was to believe that that absolved her from acknowledging my love and happiness.... I would be a lesser son.... or at least so I believe.

Soon, I hope, very soon, my mother will be blessed with another son, in her old age.

And, I hope it will be a time of rejoicing, instead of pain......


Friday, May 27, 2011

Some lovely news.....

I have not been blogging....

Hey, how often will I be saying that?

But, I will blog. Even if it is to set up a small post everyday. I will. LOL

I do love blogging. And, I have this wonderful, stubborn persistance. I fall. And, I get up. Even if I limp when am getting up.

So, back to the blogging.

I have just realised that, there some influential African statesmen who are quite willing (now that they are out of politics) to tackle the Africanness of homosexuality head on. In the name of HIV.

Here is one article. Kind of amuses, and warms my heart.
Former presidents Festus Mogae of Botswana and Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia have called for a more inclusive approach to the fight against HIV/Aids.
The two said while on a tour of Malawi that such an approach would likely yield better results in Africa.
The remarks by the retired leaders could reignite homosexuality debate in the southern Africa country and may eventually reduce the stigma currently associated with the sex orientation.
They spoke at a press conference in Lilongwe, Malawi's capital city to mark the end of their five-day tour in the country.
and, some background is added.

Only last year, Malawi was thrown into a national debate on gay issues, pitting the majority conservatives against progressives after a judge handed a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison, with hard labour, to a gay couple convicted of what was described as gross indecency and unnatural acts.
Later, the couple was released after a President Bingu wa Mutharika pardoned them during a visit by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.
Mr Mogae, who is also a champion for an HIV Free Generation, insisted that Malawi, and the rest of Africa could not succeed in fighting against the pandemic if some groups in the society were discriminated against.
Despite research indicating that about 13 per cent of the married men were secretly engaged in homosexuality, Malawi has been reluctant to embrace them.
In Malawi, HIV prevalence stands at around 12 per cent, with most efforts to assist those infected being directed towards heterosexuals.

Yeah.... candid.

Hello. You guys ok? I love you so!

A happy, and very much alive and blogging gug

Friday, May 13, 2011

Parliament Closes.... Without the Bill becoming Law

Of huge relief.
Simply because this bill, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is a huge threat. To me, and mine, in Uganda.
I do love this silly country of mine. Even when I admit it is silly and stupid.... in some things. It also has some very beautiful things that am proud of.... like yours truly!!!!!
Yes, I have not been blogging. Fact, I was seeing a flood of information at other places. Boxturtle Bulletin. Warren Throckmorton's to mention a few.
And, I was also so involved and busy preparing things concerning that bill that I was simply not up to getting pen to paper to blog.
Oh, yes....
It is a defeat, for Bahati. Am told he lobbied his best to have the bill passed. Yes, the committee had some recommendations, cutting out some of the more silly provisions in the bill. And, dear Pastor eat da poo poo, and Steven Langa, and others.... They were on a tear to make sure that the bill becomes law.
So, it is a defeat for them.
No. It is not victory for us. Our countrymates, for seemingly no reason at all, are very willing to believe in the nonsense of our 'recruiting' and going after their children, and spreading homosexuality like a contagion.... LOL.
OK, it does not shine a good light on the fact that we are very clever [sniff],
but, and a huge but, we have another day to fight.
And, believe me, I am going to be calling out more of the stupidies.
For today, until the next parliament is sworn in, with dear David Bahati featuring, we are going to wait for this bill.
Yes. It is going to come, again.
and, we shall be fighting it. Again.
Tooth and nail. Our very lives and liberty depend on it......
Be well, and thanks for helping to hold us up.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, 2009: Political Gimmick, and Diversion.

Or, the so-called Bahati Bill.

Well, as I was sleeping, on this self enforced hiatus, the wheels of parliament were moving.

Now, the anti-Homosexuality Bill is at present being discussed in the parliament of Uganda. Just today, as I write. Yes, today, Friday the 6th of May 2011. Committee hearings are reportedly going ahead.

Now, remember that this is the lame duck session of parliament. And, remember that it is supposed to end soon, on 11 May 2011.

And, that on 12 May is the coronation of the King. Uh, do not think that am using my words without real care.

Why is the Anti-Homosexuality Bill being discussed today in parliament? And as a matter of urgency? Pure and simple. DIVERSION.

Less than a week ago, the opposition parties started a 'walk-to-work' peaceful protest. The government responded with over whelming violence. Currently, as I write, the major opposition leader is in neighbouring Kenya, for medical attention for injuries he received during one of his 4 arrests. They sprayed tear gas and pepper direct into his face, after breaking down his car windows. And, this was in full view of the press.

The next day, riots paralysed the country. It was after the video of that arrest was shown on TV. Ugandans, the citizens of the country were appalled. They came out on strike. And, the government responded with overwhelming violence again. So bad that the spectre of Idi Amin Dada, famous dictator and life president of Uganda was raised.

So, the country is in a ferment. With the coronation to happen in just a few days time. So, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill is beind discussed... and ready to be passed.

So, it is a DIVERSION. The government needs a heady diversion for the country. For the outraged citizens of Uganda.

So, and this is very important, what is the government trying to do?

In actual fact, that diversion is not going to work. Because the citizens of Uganda are simply more concerned about the rising prices of food, and the deteriorating human rights situation. Their homophobia is a reflex which the government wants to use. But, it is not likely to work.

Oh, I am gay. I am Ugandan. I know what am talking about.

But, the international community is going to be appalled. The US allies are going to be astonished. And, there are going to be calls for this bill to be shelved....

Hey, so, what should you do?

People, I am a gay man, who is Ugandan. I can be killed because of being gay in Uganda. But, I can also be killed because of the general abuse of human rights in the country.


That is very important.

If you want to condemn the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, please CONDEMN in the strongest terms possible, the general state of Human rights in Uganda.

Oh, the Bill will be passed in parliament. Have no doubt about that.

But, remember that this is time for the GAY MOVEMENT around the world to make COMMON CAUSE with the average citizen of Uganda to decry the abuse of human rights of ALL UGANDANS.

Do not separate the two issues. Mention both in the same sentence, in the same breath.

Tell this to your leaders in the community, to your leaders in your country. To your leaders in your parliament, and to your leaders nationally and internationaly.

LGBTI rights are HUMAN Rights. They are not divisible. They are not above others, they are not distinct from the others.

Make common cause in demanding the cessation of abuse of rights of Ugandans, including LGBTI ugandans, by the Government of Uganda.

Let the message go out, simple, clear, unambiguous.

LGBTI rights are human rights. And, we are concerned about the rights of ALL Ugandans, including LGBTI Ugandans.

That is the message. That is the statement. That is what we need to say.

And, yes, go ahead and talk. Tell everyone. Because, again, we cannot fight this in Uganda. The diversion will occur if you are outraged, and forget that not only kuchus in Uganda are at risk. Talk, make the bold and angry statements. Make them about Ugandans in general. And also Ugandan kuchus.

And, thanks for your help.