Towards the end of 1990s, there was an alleged gay wedding in a small barber shop in Wandegeya. If I recall well, it was around 1998. Many media houses published the event and it took only a short time for the President of Uganda to react. He ordered his tigers to go out in Wandegeya Township to find these so called 'faggots' and lock them up.
was a hawker by then and I knew nothing about sexuality. I was not in
anyway an activist and never thought of it. I must say that at this
time, I was homophobic. I had never met a gay person in my life, but I
hated them so deeply, just as the President did. My hatred towards GLBT
people have got its roots in my religious background, but not because I
really knew what it meant to be gay.
The publication of
this event in Wandegeya forced me to go out there and read extensively
about what it means to be gay. My research proved that people do not
learn to be gay and that they had no choice about it. It affirmed that
some people are born that way and you can do nothing to change them. And
that homosexualism is not a habit. The word gay itself had less meaning
to me. I must add that ignorance really fueled my hate towards a group
of people I knew nothing about, just like most of you.
publication of this wedding kept on going and much hatred was out
there. I wrote to the Daily Monitor newspaper. I do need to check my
archives to know the date which my letter was published. One thing I
must note is that by this time I saw no need to keep records, today I
need to recall this email but I cannot see it. This is a lesson well
In that simple email that I wrote, I asked the
President (he was out of the country earlier when activists in UK
forced him to comment about his remarks towards the gay wedding), He
replied that “there were no gays in Uganda”. So in my email, I asked the
President, if you claimed that there are no gays in Uganda, what about
the group called Homoactive Uganda? Actually, there was no such group
at the time, but it was just an attempt to see the reaction of both the
political arena and from the communities. I knew so little that people
read letters published in news.
I was overwhelmed by the
replies I got. A big number of them were hard-hitting on me for
responding to the President and who was I to respond to him? In their
view, no one could respond to the President’s remarks. He was final and
fountain of honour in the land. Other emails were calling me a hero.
Some emails called demeaning names and others were asking me directions
to where homo active group located or met. But there was one man, Chris,
who wrote to me and requested to meet me. I agreed, not knowing what
exactly the person willing to meet me would discuss, this brought in
some fears but I had already decided to go. I wrote the email to the
Daily Monitor NOT because I was gay; I simply wanted to see the
reaction. And I met so many people in person which encouraged me to push
for more freedoms, indeed some of them were homosexuals themselves
although I have lost contact for over 90% of these people.
discussed equality and human rights issues for GLBT people with Chris
and how best we can address the problem. In the following week, I met
several pro-GLBT equality Government officials in their office, I was
surprised to note this yet on the streets of Kampala, homophobia was
blazing like wild fires. I recall one official pulled out a brand new
book that am struggling to recall its author and title, it was about
sexuality and he had destroyed the first pages of the book to be on a
safe side just incase his boss get notice of it. This guy was kind and
simple, Yes he was gay I think. (He never told me about his sexuality). I
lost contact with him too; he contributed deeply to the equality
struggle despite of him being in the closet.
official at Kampala Club pulled out two books of Bishop John Shelby
Spong titled “Living in sin? A bishop rethinks Human sexuality”. This
is a must read book for all religious folks. This is the book that ended
my homophobia. It’s a great book for all who want to know about views
on human sexuality written by a churchman.
Chris is in
Uganda and I met him few weeks ago after almost 12 years. Meeting him in
2001 was the beginning of what you now know as the GLBT movement in
Uganda, although many people try to bury it and they have taken credit
for defending GLBT rights other than me, my work will always exist--be
it documented or not. The celebration of any small achievement by GLBT
rights activist is a collective responsibility of so many silent heroes
and heroines that we must always recognise their role.
journey is too detailed for the purposes of this article. Nonetheless,
I wanted to briefly address the issue of homophobia in Africa. Of all
continents, Africa is the only place where sex is natural and its
essential significance. There was no homophobia before colonialists. And
the only normal way of having natural sex in Africa was being bisexual.
In Africa, many people had sex anywhere by anyone any time. And it was
ok. Africans could have sex by both women and men and this makes the
Africa the only sexually active bisexual continent. Bisexuality has
existed in Africa since time immemorial.
To understand my
opinion, you would need to talk to the foreign gays in Uganda. Talking
to them will reveal so much more than what you may expect. I have been
talking with Heaviside (not real name), a gay friend from Europe. He had
lived in Uganda for over ten years and he told me he had got more
sexual advances and enjoyment from married and straight people in
Uganda. The men who are having sex with him are men and married, If a
bigger percentage of Africans are bisexuals, then why the hatred towards
gays? For this question, Heaviside has got an answer from his own
Heaviside says that real straight men cannot
be threatened by gays. It’s only bisexuals that are under threat. In
Africa, people used to have sex with anybody in secrecy and there was no
tags like gay, lesbian or bisexual. These tags were introduced by
colonialists and religions. The introduction of these tags founded the
threat towards the natural way of enjoying sex yet the inhabitants of
Africans, wanted to keep their great sexual adventures under cover, and
this can be proved by Heaviside who is facing so many homophobic people
during day and evening, these are the very same people he do have sex
with. From his point of view, a bigger percentage of people in Africa
enjoy natural sexual adventurism and that’s bisexualism although he
admits that there are those who are 100% gays and 100% heterosexuals and
not attracted to bisexualism.
Heaviside noted that, as a
result of white male obsession in Uganda by Ugandans, many women are
coming to him, and when he tells them that he loves Dick so deeply, they
got to note that he is gay, for them being gay is all about anal sex,
so some women had told him how they will walk an extra mile and offer
what he wants most (according to them, that’s anal sex) and one
beautiful lady asked him if he could bring out her brother for him. Whom
she had no idea about his sexuality.
This is now
puzzling; can we say these men and women were bisexuals? Or they saw
Heaviside as a walking ATM machine that could bail them out of poverty?
Should we think that Africans would put homophobic views aside when it
comes for money especially when it's night time? The answer is yes.
are the cause of all the hatred and hate speech against GLBT people in
Africa. There were no tags on sexuality in Africa before the coming of
colonialists and religious groups. Indeed there are countries in Africa
that didn’t have any legislation against homosexuality. Take an example
of Rwanda, up to now, its laws are silent when it comes to
homosexuality. Why don’t Africans return to their natural understanding
sexuality and end homophobia? After all, the colonial masters left 50
years ago and they made an extra-ordinary move on arrival to their
respective countries. Some countries have legalised same-sex marriage,
others are still struggling with this issue. But at least no First
World country arrests and imprisons GLBT people.
the anti-gay religious bigots of those countries have come to Africa to
foster hatred that cannot be done in more enlightened countries. You
can always count on religions to perpetuate hate, violence, social and