Disclosure; Who shall I tell? Coming Out and Disclosure in Uganda, other Hostile environments (3)
Coming out…, when one admits to themselves that they are kuchu, that they are other than heterosexual, the relief, the sense of wellness and rightness which follows that self revelation is considerable.
I know. I have been there.
It is great. It is ongoing, and it
is empowering. Makes one feel like they have missed years and years of their
lives. You will feel empowered and euphoric.
And you will find yourself wanting to tell your best friends, your family, significant other people in your family.
It is true. After a while you feel so good about yourself that you simply want to share the good news, to have people be happy with you, to have them dance and clap and jump with joy because you have discovered who you are. You simply want to be happy with them. Yeah, again, I have walked that road…
So, who should you tell?
The answer is, I don’t know.
Our environment is extremely
hostile. Ugandans are more hostile to kuchus than most
other countries in Africa.(pdf)
Just because we live in Uganda on a day to day basis, we always forget the real life dangers that are possibilities simply because we are kuchu. You cannot forget this, when you are thinking of telling someone that you are kuchu. Doesn’t matter whether it is a close member of family, or the best of best friends. Remember that it might be a shock of shocks to them, and their reactions have to be considered. It is simply not good if you find yourself in prison just because you told a best friend about your happiness on coming out.
Here is a sobering quote from that report
“Findings from the most recent Afrobarometer survey show that Ugandan adults of all ages and education levels overwhelmingly continue to express intolerance for same-sex relationships, think they should be illegal, and are willing to report their own family member or close friend to the police if they engage in homosexual activity. Their level of intolerance for sexual difference is the highest among 37 African countries surveyed in 2021/2022.”
It is your life. You will know who of your significant friends, family that you can approach.
To scare you further, and indeed, my aim is to scare you into understanding how serious the homophobia in our country, Uganda is. Those who answered questions were asked whether they would report us to police close acquaintances; friends, co-workers, relatives. More than 90% of Ugandans said they would.
“more than nine out of 10 respondents (94%-95%) said they would report relatives – including their siblings and children – as well as close friends and co-workers to the police if they discovered that they were in same-sex relationships”
So, what use is the good news that you can never share?
And, sober fact of life, coming out becomes better for you when you can share your new life with people around you, who are supportive and knowledgeable. Can one do that in Uganda?
The answer is that yes, we can.
It is possible, but you run considerable risk. You have to asses the risk, your risk, and only you can do that.
We live lives filled with the fear and paranoia of being discovered. Our fears are justified, many times and that is not a good thing. Yet, it is also matter of fact that we somehow negotiate a balance in our lives. As kuchus, in homophobic Uganda. And, it is true that there are people that we can rely on. Some real good friends. Some members of our families. But, please, choose very carefully who you break this precious secret to.
We all have stories…, and these stories can help or hinder other kuchus. The most important thing for you, kuchu, to remember, if you feel that you need to come out and disclose to some of your significant others family and friends, is that they can be hostile. And that hostility can turn deadly.
At the same time, coming out to some, even if they might not like it, might cause them to think over weeks and months, and they might be there for you. Maybe in part, maybe not. It is a real risk, and no one can do the risk assessment for you.