Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Erasing the Kuchu: the LGBTQ+ African


Oh yes, this is a thing. A concept ringing true, and that seems to account for quite a lot of the anger other Africans feel for Kuchus, LGBTQ+ Africans.
It runs thus; Africans are so pure that Kuchus don’t, or didn’t exist in Africa. The whole idea of LGBTQ+ is foreign, an importation from the ‘West’.

It is complete nonsense. Yes, it is ignorant nonsense.
Sadly, quite a lot of Africans fervently believe this. And, a lot of our powerful leaders believe the nonsense, using that as the excuse to cement their homophobia.
Oh yes, we Kuchus accept that we are different. You might not like us, but we are African. That is part of my identity, our identities. We are queer Africans.

The nonsense is cemented by a lack of knowledge and the perpetuation of ignorance about sex and sexualities.
Africans as individuals know about sex. But, the sex averse, sex negative, sex shame that has been imported [mainly], means that we don’t actually cement our knowledge of sex and sexuality. What we know has to be confirmed by scriptures.., and you can imagine what ‘scriptures’ are believed to say about sex.

Back, to the apparent need to erase the Kuchu African, the LGBTQ+ African.

I remember the days when our dear leaders were questioned about LGBTQ+ Africans. The early days of the HIV epidemic. And it seemed like a scientific curiosity. In the rest of the world, gay men were an important facet of the epidemic. The epidemiology and science was quite concrete. Why were they not so in Africa? Was it true that in Africa, the HIV epidemic was only heterosexual?

Our dear leaders were incensed. No, there was no such nonsense as gay Africans. That was only in the evil, decadent ‘outside’, especially the ‘west’.
Oh yes, even Museveni was caught uttering such stupidities.., I don’t know whether ignorant utterances that the whole world knows aren’t correct but are uttered as truths in the village we call Uganda become gospels. [Yes, they do.]

So, given such erasure, we came out.
We actually made a demonstration, silent, mouths taped shut, in an international conference in Kampala, Uganda. The days of denial that gay Ugandans existed were over.
We were chased down after the demonstration. But, the mere fact that we had actually challenged the erasure was empowering. No longer could our dear leaders claim we didn’t exist. A precious few became visible.

And, we brought out the historical record. Hard to erase that which is actually in journals, as published papers, as long ago as when the Europeans started colonising Africa.
Myth bursting. Kuchus, LGBTQ+ Africans existed even before colonialism, apparently co-existed peacefully, before the introduction of the ‘One God’, colonial religions that banned, imprisoned, persecuted and erased knowledge of us.

Of course then the dear leaders changed the narrative. We were ‘few’, not many. Museveni made news, accepting that gay Africans existed, on BBC Focus on Africa program. A momentous assertion.

[Stupidities, we are mocked in our ignorance, but, if the leaders set themselves up for such a thing, what to do? Of course it had to be headline news, Museveni accepting that LGBTQ+ Africans existed. He is the one who had said they didn’t.]
Yes. We are a minority. A minority that is persecuted. We are closeted because of homophobia. Our invisibility, hurtful as it is, is a matter of survival.

Since we were, and the epidemic was, and we had come out, the relative outing of Kuchu Africans has been ongoing.
Matter of fact. Too many papers published, too much known now to actually stand and say, they don’t exist. The erasure is no longer working…, except in the anger by some Africans that we dare to exist, that we dare to come out. Dare to challenge the narrative of a homosexual less Africa.

But, the erasure continues. Or at least the desire, desperate, to erase.

The Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023 is an attempt at erasure. In the Bill as written by Asumani Basalirwa, the very identities of gay, lesbian, transgender, etc were to be criminalised. It is not a mistake that the Act is genocidal, all homosexuals, as we are called, to be in prison for life [no parole], or the death punishment, for recidivism, being ‘serial’ offenders.

And when The Primate of the Church of Uganda, Anglican, GAFCON tribe, when Archbishop Stephen Kaziimba says things like

"homosexuality is currently a challenge in Uganda because it is being forced on us by outside, foreign actors against our will, against our culture, and against our religious beliefs"

Yeah, it is the same narrative. We gay Africans are not supposed to be, a foreign imposition... We poor kuchus, gay Africans, are of course not to blame for our sexual orientation…
But, we are. And the whole Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2023 is aimed at erasing us from existence. Yet we still are. We are not foreign. We are, Kuchus. We are LGBTQ+. We are African.

That is very, very painful to the likes of Kaziimba. No wonder death and life imprisonment. Matter of fact, ironic that the ‘foreign imposition’ that Kaziimba is fighting against he fights by imposing life imprisonment and death on Africans. Africans like me, Ugandans who are Kuchu.



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