Gay Uganda – A David and Goliath Moment
Message from Michael Petrelis:
Woke up this morning and found two messages from Ugandans requesting action and solidarity on their behalf. I wrote back to both people, thanking them for getting in touch with us and asking them to join Gays Without Borders, and to keep us informed about their lives and struggles. I’ll be sending letters to the Ugandan embassy in Washington via email and postal mail today.
In a message dated 9/13/2007 7:04:36 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time :
Thanks for the kind e-mail which we received in a very big order. We urgently request that you organize, a call for action. We are loosing a lot, by this state sponsored homophobia. If you can also offer amnesty to some members, this will be so good. Uganda is no longer safe for us.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
It’s interesting. At the beginning, when one looks at the things that stand between us and a realisation of gay rights in Uganda, it seems that the problem is insurmountable. When I first entered the gay community in Uganda, Kuchus one and all seemed to think that they are a cursed lot that will remain cursed.
Yet in a few years, a change has occurred. Most of the reaction to the Red Pepper outing was at first a despair. Despair and a cringing fear of what is going to happen, what our hostile world is going to dish out to us because now they know we are gay. That was Sunday, and Monday. People had switched off their phones. Others were planning to go into hiding.
Wednesday, and it seems the consensus has changed again. Come up swinging. Fight back. Resist. Anger has come up at last, a definite pride at being Kuchu and also being human and why should we be ‘named and shamed’? Explore the legal issues. And how else can we fight back? An email campaign. Letters to the Red Pepper, challenging the outing of presumed gay people. It worked before. It can work again. The Red Pepper is not immune to this kind of thing also. Oh, and don’t buy it. Just do not buy that rug!
Yet it is invigorating. The desire to stand up and be counted, to get out of the rut of always presenting your pass with a bowed head, being down trodden. The point when I raise my head and start fighting back. That is a turning point that is remarkable. A David and Goliath moment. When the 3% steps out before the incredulous gaze of the 97% and demand to be recognised. That we are also human. One of my sisters dared to imply that it was shameful that I was being open about my sexuality. That I should go somewhere and hide. I told her no way. I am as good a human being as her. That felt good. No longer acting the victim. Standing up and being counted.
The literal translation of Nsaba Buturo’s name is `I am requesting for refuge’. I don’t know why his parents so named him. But he feels that I should leave my country because I am gay. Me whose genealogy stretches back more than ten generations in this country, according to what my father tried strenuously to drum into my poor head. I don’t remember my ancestors to the nth degree. I know my dad does, he still sings that song. But I remembered that when I heard Nsaba Buturoassert we should leave the country. Because we are homosexual. Being gay makes us less than human, undesirables that should leave pure, clean Uganda.
It feels good standing up to be myself. That is what they mean by Gay Pride I guess. It really feels good!
Kuchus, all. We shall overcome, someday. We shall because reason is on our side.
See also : Uganda’s Anti-Gay Witch Hunt Continues by Doug Ireland