Monday, January 31, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Friends, acquitances, well wishers. The world over is in sympathy with gay Ugandans on the death of David Kato Kisule.
Is an emotional time for me. Actually, am not trusting myself to talk. At least the words I write are kind of filtered. And, of course there is the backspace on the keyboard. Can delete and erase and edit words. But, not as when they come out of the mouth.
Maybe my biggest fear is that I am so emotional that I may cry!!!!
Ahem, ahem. Internal joke, that. Not very fit to be shared further than me. But it is good enough to make me laugh.
I was not at the funeral. [maybe I fear crowds…..!]. But, I was there in the spirit. With the crowd, the mourners. And, I was there last night. Spent the whole night there. At last saw the elder twin, Wasswa. Was kind of a morbid curiosity. According to tradition, it is taboo to talk about a twin dying. So, another word is used. I believe the reason is that they are supposed to be connected. So, one does not die while the other lives. But, I did see David Kato’s elder brother.
There is lots of press on him. Yes, David would be happy.
Why do I feel sad at that?
Because he is not around to share the happiness.
But, there are still battles to fight. That is matter of fact. For example, even at the funeral, a preacher decided that the chance of a captive audience was too much. Here is what the BBC reports.
There was a moment of drama when a pastor preaching at the outside service told homosexuals to repent, our correspondent reports.Well, the family, the LGBT family took matters into their own hands. We buried our loved one. We buried David. And, to hell with the preachers, and all those who hate us. Here is what the Reuters reporter saw.
The man warned that they would face the fate of residents in Sodom and Gomorrah, the biblical cities destroyed by God.
He was interrupted, accused of preaching hate, taken away and someone else took over the proceedings, our reporter says.
Scuffles broke out between locals and friends of a murdered Ugandan gay activist at his funeral on Friday after the pastor conducting the service berated gay people and villagers refused to bury the coffin.
"The world has gone crazy," the pastor told the congregation through a microphone.
"People are turning away from the scriptures. They should turn back, they should abandon what they are doing. You cannot start admiring a fellow man."
Gay activists, wearing T-shirts featuring Kato's face with sleeves coloured with the gay pride flag, then stormed the pulpit and grabbed the microphone.
"It is ungodly," the pastor shouted, before being blocked from sight.
"ONLY GOD CAN JUDGE US"
An unidentified female activist then began to shout from the pulpit.
"Who are you to judge others?" she shouted. "We have not come to fight. You are not the judge of us. As long as he's gone to God his creator, who are we to judge Kato?"
Locals intervened on the side of the pastor and scuffles broke out before he was taken away to Kato's father's house to calm the situation.
Villagers then refused to bury the body at which point a group of Kato's friends, most of whom were gay, carried his coffin to the grave and buried it themselves.
If anyone ever preaches at MY funeral, I promise to stand up and correct the proceedings…..! LOL!
I have noticed a curious reaction. Many activists are coming out, more, and more emboldened. [sigh. My partner is becoming bolder than I am. Needs a serious talking too…. I cannot remain the voice of reason in this family.]
But, others have fine tuned the old reflexes. They are burrowing deeper. Fearful, closing the closet right round them.
Well, to remind you, it is a Homophobic country. And scenes like these reported by the BBC are just not the norm. It has taken the death of one of us, David Kato, to make this happen.
He (reporter) says hundreds of people - friends, family, colleagues and diplomats - crowded outside Mr Kato's family home in the village of Nakawala in Mukono district, 40km (about 25 miles) from Kampala.
Many members of the lesbian and gay community wore T-shirts with Mr Kato's portrait on the front and the words "La luta continua [the struggle continues]" printed on the back.
I am talking about a mass demonstration of people that they were gay. And proud.
Yes, Uganda is changing.
But, the changes are not very deep.
A Ugandan was killed. Was deprived of the very most basic of human rights. Life.
That doesn’t matter whether it was a gay man, or another person. It was a human being deprived of life.
The reasons don’t matter.
But, what was the reaction of the Police? The murder was actually reported, and police driven to investigate by the gay community. Otherwise, nothing was being done. I am stating a matter of fact.
Then, in typical Ugandan style, (Bless my country), when the international outcry was mounting, and demands on the government to do something, that is when the police mounted some investigations.
I was at David’s place last night, this morning. And, the police had just done a crime scene investigation, the one which was reported about, (and, I believe, for publicity’s sake.). I am told it was reported on NTV news last evening. Curious.
I was impressed at the way that rumours are swilling about the death. I mean, from the populace, from the people around, someone has already been judged guilty. The motives have been ascertained. Seems as if it is a fait accompli.
I commented that I would not trust the police report. That was very harsh, and true. Because, there simply was no way that they could get an other than gambled account of what truly happened if they never made an investigation. That was before the media driven investigation.
What surprised me, and made me hope that something will come up from the investigation, was the fact that David Kisule had set up cameras and an alarm system in his half finished house.
Shows you our level of paranoia. I mean, I do know that David was more paranoid than I am. But, I didn’t know that he had set up cameras in a house that he had not finished. It is a shell, I saw it. And, he thought an alarm system was one of the most important things to install. Fact. Most Ugandans do not have them in their houses. We simply dont.
From those records, we shall possibly know what happened.
And, maybe we shall not be distracted by the rumours that people like the Rolling Pebble editor publish. Yes, I do understand his motivation. He put up the picture of a person, and asked people to ‘Hang them’. Now that that person is dead, the good Christian has to find a reason to justify the death, brutal and callous as that is.
Anyway, I do hope I get to know what transpired, what led to the death of David Kato Kisule. I really hope I do.
Because I am a human being. And, I don’t expect him to be an angel (He would really laugh at that. David was no angel. And never wanted to be!)
But, I would like to see justice visited on his killer.
I am sure that David would have loved the attention that his death has generated over gay issues in Uganda.
I know we would have disagreed… again. I don’t believe in martyrs. He believed that to make an omelete, eggs needed to break. Different people, different approaches, different strategies. But, he would not have been the sacrifice for such. A martyr.
I am seeing an outpouring of world attention. But, most important, I am seeing real debate happening in Uganda. Not by the government newspaper…. the New Vision. But, surprise, surprise, by the only other real independent paper. Here are some of the articles.
(NB:, this is Uganda. The press does not discuss homosexuality. Not at all…. not in any way. That is, apart from heavy condemnation, and exhortations to ‘Hang Them’. In fact, far as I remember, the government owned New Vision has had a ban on discussion of that topic for more than a year. So, this is a real big deal. )
World condemns killing of gay activist
The killing of a prominent Ugandan gay rights activist drew worldwide condemnation yesterday as the Uganda police moved to delink homophobia from his death.
Police mounts hunt for killers of Ugandan gay rights activistBut, the real coup de grace is this editorial from the Monitor.
Police’s Scene of Crime officers have ringed off the house in which a gay activist, David Kato was murdered yesterday.
Mr David Kisule Kato, 46, died after he was hit on the head by unknown assailants at his home in Mukono District on Wednesday. He died on his way to Mulago Hospital.
Detectives and scene of crime officers spent the day picking fingerprints on the furniture and interviewing neighbours of Kato.
Police said his attackers hit him with a hammer on the head at around noon on Wednesday before locking him in the house.
Deputy Police Spokesman Vincent Ssekate said they are taking the case seriously but asked the public to who have any information that may lead to the arrest of the suspects to contact them.
“Since the act happened during day, there may be people who saw the suspects entering the house. They should come and give us information,” he said.
In Uganda, even in the independent Monitor, this is a real big deal.
Can we talk honestly about homosexuality?Being who and what I am. I disagree with some of the points made. But, the call to dialogue.... That is what we have been begging for. Just the chance to present our views.
David Kato, a gay rights activist who campaigned against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, and who sued a local tabloid last year after it named him as being homosexual, was killed in his home this week.
Police say they are investigating the circumstances of his death and it is not yet clear whether this was a homophobic attack in which Mr Kato was targeted for his sexual orientation or his thoughts about the matter.
Whatever the motive behind the killing, this incident reminds us of the homophobia that is widespread in our country and society – and the deadly consequences of not dealing with it.
Homosexuality is illegal under Ugandan law and the Anti Homosexuality Bill prescribes harsher punishments, including the death penalty for sodomy.
While such legislation might serve as a deterrent, it will not eliminate homosexuality and might cement the discrimination of sexual minorities.
The homosexuality question in Uganda has two major flaws. First is that a lot of the debate is shouted down from extreme positions of moral self-righteousness; as a result there is little common understanding among those who oppose gay rights and those who advocate for them.
Secondly, a lot of the debate is carried out or influenced by foreign actors – both in favour of and against homosexuality.
What we need is an honest national dialogue on homosexuality in order to forge a consensus on the rights of those Ugandans who choose to be gay and those who oppose homosexuality as a lifestyle.
Holding puritanical and extreme views on the matter, whether liberal or conservative, will divide us, rather than help us find a mutually acceptable compromise.
People like David Kato and others who might be gay are Ugandans and enjoy the same rights and protections of the law as heterosexuals. We cannot send them into exile neither, lock them away, or hang them.
We need to have an honest discussion about how to ensure that their rights are upheld without violating the rights of other Ugandans.
Peaceful and stable societies only emerge when we understand and try to accommodate those who are different from us, or who disagree with us – not by ostracising or killing them.
And, yes, we are getting somewhere. Painfully slowly, at a very high cost. But, we are.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
I am in shock.
Literal shock. Just heard that one of our members, a prominent gay activist, an out and out man, who has been at the forefront of the gay rights movement in Uganda, David Kato Kisule was murdered. Dead, a blunt instrument to the skull.
Dead. In Lugazi Hospital at the moment.
What to do? Shock. Shock, shock.
So, I write, to try and express that which I feel. But, what can words express?
Kato. A disturbed friend. One of our very special brand of radical activists. He used to say that he was one of the very 'out' if not the first out gay man in Uganda.
And, yes, he was one of the people whose photo appeared in the Rolling Stone, one of the three plaintiffs who sued, and won the court case.
Yes, I am paranoid. I wonder whether it had any bearing. Whether that had bearing....!
Impossible, most likely, to prove cause and effect. We just don't know. And, we are most likely to strike out in our grief at the nearest enemy.
But, is it a coincidence?
Just settled down. Apart from trying to inform lots of other people who have already received the news. I have to settle down, get some rest, and then prepare for work tomorrow. Cannot just bounce off just like that.
But, I need to settle down. The shock, the realisation of all the things we fear, and brush off, and hope never ever to face. But, one of our own is gone.
Gone in a violent way. Gone, for reasons that I am as yet to know, or figure out... Oh gosh.
More settled now, but no less shocked. That is what it does to you, a sudden death like this.
David was apparently killed in his home, by a person or persons unknown. Yes, there is a suspect, or suspects. Problem with investigations in Uganda is the fact that what is not verified will always remain in the realms of conjecture.
What remains is that we have lost one of our most prominent firebrands. Indeed, he was on the front page of the Rolling Stone with Bishop Ssenyonjo. Remember, the one with the caption to 'Hang Them'. And yes, he was one of the three who sued the Rolling Pebble, and won.
Kato David Kisule. RIP
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Five to eight in the morning.
Beautiful day promised. The sun is out, but, the skies are overcast. No rain the last few days, that means the dust is up and about, a thick ever present red mist that lifts from the roads whenever cars pass.
And, the mornings... seems like smog to me. Kampala is growing, bigger, and heavier, a too pregnant mother. We wallow in our filth, which is kind of discouraging. This is very beautiful country.
Now, heavier cloud moves over the sun. Cooler, colder air, a nip in it on my skin. But, I still feel it in my bones that it will be bright hot and shiny later in the day. That is what it was yesterday. And, today it will be.
A few days without internet.
Is an addiction nowadays. I remember the days when I used not to have it..... , used to hear about that thing, the internet. Then there were days, soon after I had started working, when I would spend my off hours, and little money in internet cafes. Ridiculously slow, but, they gave access to the wonders of the wide world web. Was about that time that I came out to myself. The internet played a part. Not very easy to admit that I was gay. Not even to myself, even when I was acknowledging the emotions, and seeking out the thrills.
But, once it was acknowledged, to myself, the most immediate challenge was, where do I find others like me? I thought that I was alone, in the whole of Kampala, or Uganda.
Well, the internet showed me others.
Later, I made a website, on geocities, yahoo's free spaces. Gay Uganda. A cyber lover and I reworked it. Orokie. Theme captured our feelings at that time. He put up the photo of a single elephant on the index page, with the caption, 'You are not alone'. And next, a herd of elephants in the African bush, on trek, the dust of their movement rising a cloud around them, and the caption, 'We are many'
Orokie. Orokie of memories.
An artist and painter who lost his eyesight as a result of a tragic set of happenings. Orokie the painter, who used to call me the poet. His poet. He is the one who sketched that sideways nude 'me when I am me', hugely talented, gay, African, with the knack to see and notice, and express himself through simple complex images. With an eye for the African male.
No, we have lost contact. Much as the internet is the domain of those with sight, when the artist lost his sight, he dropped off the edge, periphery of perception.
Nostalgia. Wonder what he is doing....!
Those were the days.
At the moment, I do have access. There is some, seemingly at every street corner in Kampala. And the suburbs. No longer have to go down-town. No longer have to make a trek for it.
I used to pay exorbitantly. Still do, as a matter of fact. Internet in most of Africa is more expensive that elsewhere. The providers still have us squeezed for the access, though it seems as if they are feeling the competition.
Anyway, I am playing the consumers game. Trying to find a provider that will suit my pocket.... as low as possible. That means, whenever my subscription lapses, I go hunting for the best deal round town.
Well, I cannot have access to the cheapest and best deal. And, it irks me to fork out so much on internet....! Yet, it is a necessity of life, my life. I bet we shall write volumes on how the internet has revolutionised our lives. From helping our coming out as gay human beings, gay Africans. Seeking and finding love near and far. And, the organising, the maturing of our thought processes, as we wrestled free of the clinging homophobia, and found a vestige of freedom.
I love the internet. I say am addicted, but, it is like food. A necessary thing. I love it for the freedom to be myself that it allows me. The opening of the world to my senses and perception. I love it for the ability to connect to others that it gives me.
But, most of all, I love it for the extension of my being that it is.
Even now, not connected, off line, my mind is occupied by it. The time when I will log in and find myself connected. Able to surf and look at the news. From Tunisia to Tasmanian devils. Challenging the smallness of my world with the huge variety of perception. I love it for that.
Here is to a great day to you. When this is up, I will have posted.... will be online, again!
Have a great day.
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Doing the rounds of the web…. came across this article. Who is a homophobe?
Nice question. The sister of mine who declined to come to our tenth anniversary, is she a 'phobe? Actually, I still like her…well, she is my sis. But, I am also planning some very brotherly retaliation… because, I am still her brother, and she did hurt me. See, I am no Christian, and, I believe she knows that. To tell me that I live in sin so she cannot celebrate with me my time of happiness, oh yes, like any brother, I do not feel like forgiving….! LOL.
But. Is she a homophobe?
People who are seeking to justify their anti-gay feelings often protest that they are not "homophobic" because they do not harbor any "animosity or hostility or fear" of gays and lesbians. Instead, they simply, sincerely believe that homosexuality is wrong and goes against God's will as they interpret it in the Bible. Thus, they assert, they cannot be labeled "homophobes."
Let me answer the question this way. There are people who sincerely believe -- and can find biblical justification for their belief -- that black people are inferior to white people. They hold no "animosity or hostility or fear" of black people (some of their best friends are black!), they just believe, and have scriptural "proof," that blacks are inferior. We still, however, do not hesitate to call them "racist."
Likewise, there are people who sincerely believe -- and can find biblical justification for their belief -- that women are inferior to men. They hold no "animosity or hostility or fear" of women (some of their best friends are women!), they just believe, and have scriptural "proof," that women are inferior. We still, however, do not hesitate to call them "misogynists."
Similarly, there are people who sincerely believe -- and can find biblical justification for their belief- - that Jews are inferior to Christians or other faiths. They hold no "animosity or hostility or fear" of Jews (some of their best friends are Jews!), they just believe, and have scriptural "proof," that Jews are inferior. We still, however, do not hesitate to call them "anti-Semites."
That's why I will call those who sincerely believe -- and can find biblical justification for their belief -- that gays and lesbians are inferior to heterosexuals "homophobes." Even if they hold no "animosity or hostility or fear" of gays and lesbians or have gay people as best friends, they remain homophobes.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Thursday, January 20, 2011
I have been reminded.
I used to blog religiously, take the time to cry, sing, weep.. and air my dirty laundry on the blog faithfully. But now, I don't seem to do the same.
Part of the reason is the fact that I am caught up in another love of the moment. But, it doesnt take away my love of writing. And the self examination that I do on this blog. Kind of venting my thoughts. And, when I do not do it, I feel it, deep down. Something goes missing. In me!
No. I don't believe I am that egotistical..... My partner believes that I am. But, I do beg to differ. True. I am stubborn. Comes with the territory. Don't think I would be able to do half of what I do if I didnt believe in myself enough to go counter to what is, in effect, common sense in Uganda.
But, I am happy that I do so.
Because, to me, in part, it is my salvation.
Last blogged about our anniversary. Beautiful time then. Loved it.
No wonder I dropped off the radar. Someone asked whether we had gone for a honeymoon.... uh. No. Hadn't.
Kind of seems like we do not have to, in a way.
I have already stated how big days leave me curiously unmoved. Just my stubborn, rebellious self, refusing to be moved by what everyone else swoons and weeps about. But, I did notice something.
Yes, of course I call him husband. I have done so a number of times on this blog. It is not really a joke, or something out of the blue. He is my lover, my companion, my mate. The man I hold in my hands in the middle of the darkest night, who pulls me to his side even when I feel like pushing him away.
I am selfish, a lot. I actually never, ever dreamed that this companionship would be a 'till death us do part thing'.... Bite me, but, I had nothing to make me believe that I would be able to do what others said was impossible.
Being with him, celebrating with him that day reminded me of all my earlier fears.
And, the fact that I had friends, gay Ugandans, and even a couple of my brothers there with me.... Somehow, it kind of sunk home. I do love the guy. We have made our place here, in beautiful Uganda. We have made a paradise of what could be a hell. I could have lived the lie... we both could have done so. And, we didnt. Yes, it costs a lot, but, we didnt.
Yes. We have done the near impossible. Celebrating what we are, and for such a length of time. Affirming ourselves.
Being what I am, I am already looking beyond. But, it was beautiful. Stopping the progression of days to look back and know that, I am gay, and Ugandan. And he is gay, and Ugandan, and we are partners.
Our world may refuse to acknowledge it, but, I call him husband, and he calls me husband.
No. It is not a dream. But, it is the real, and harsh world, of Kampala. Uganda.
And, I will not stop from exploring what I am.
Being gay, being gay in Uganda, and being what I am, it is a disguise. A rose growing fresh in a garden, manured. I can choose to make it that. Or, I can sink and sink further.
Remember the time on this blog when I used to rile so much against unChristian christians? Christianistans, some call them. Fundamentalists who believe in preaching a god of hate, instead of one of love, insisting that that is what their holy book says.
Well,I cannot lose the habit of hitting out at them.
But, it is just that we gay people seem drawn to religion. Very much. I do wonder why!
And, for some reason, I do not find it in my heart to turn away those who come to me hurting, looking for a way to reconcile their faith and their sexuality.
I feel for them.
Because, they believe, and truly. So, what do I have to give them, me who doesnt believe at all? I certainly cannot wave my lack of faith in their faces. I don't believe. But, they have the same right, the same privilege as I do to believe. And, why would I believe that my state of faith is superiour to theirs? No, I don't want them to have no faith like I don't. Because, we are different people.
So, how does gayuganda counsel hurting gay Ugandan Christians?
Gosh, if I had an answer to that, I would not be writing about it here. I feel helpless. But, they keep on coming to me. And asking the questions for which I have no answers....!
Life is tough, isnt it?
Here is to wishing you a lovely day.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Listening to a bird sing in the trees.
Notes like a bell ringing. Closer, purer, a more liquid control than metal tolling. Life is beautiful, wonderful.
The rains seem to have taken leave, at least for the time being. Was kind of anxious, myself. What with 'biblical floods' in Australia, rumours of glacial cold in Europe, Asia, blizzards in America, of untimely cold in India, I was wondering what blessings poor Africa was going to have of inclemental weather.
Don't know. Do care.... Uganda, the beautiful green looks raped to my eyes. Our population is ballooning. And, we encroach on our forests. How far will it go?
Our family patriarch fell sick the day before New Years.
Daddy, that is to say. And, the family rallied around him, just like it is supposed to be. He is elderly, but quite active. Controversial in his own way. A pragmatic conservative, he is fiercely protective of the old ways, but flexible and understanding.
Of course I am talking about this gay second son who has insisted on not getting married to a woman, and horror of horrors, lives openly with another man who all must know is his bedmate...
Daddy has not given up. Yes, he still hopes for a child from my loins.... Uh, when I think of Elton John, and the fact that I have similar paternal instincts, I think he may get a grand child from my loins.
But, he is old. And he would like that to be in his lifetime. I am not sure that I can fulfil that condition.
When he fell sick, I suddenly found myself thrust back to the fore.
He has never really rejected me because I am gay. I know, some of my aunties, fellow elders like him, would have been more idealistic. They are fierce Christians. I was suddenly needed, and thrust into the heat of things. Hospital, doctors, investigations. It is very expensive to fall sick in Uganda. And, the fact that our care is less than desirable makes it even more so. Frustrating, embarrassing, time consuming. Even the smallest bit of success is won at cost.
But, the family rallied round him. He is a big man, a clan elder. And, as counted here, he is rich, in family. Children who have studied, and can take care of their dad. And they did. In a way.
So, the presumed black sheep found a place in the gathering. And even my lover muscled his way into the thick of things. Don't know how they felt about that.... Huh, silly feeling. My sister's rejection, well meaning however it was, it suddenly reminded me how far to the periphery of the family my sexuality, and the very open living of my life, had pushed me in the family. They may not accept me, but, they cannot deny me. And, for my lover... they may resent him. I know they do. But, while am alive, when am there....!
Dad will be fine. Touch wood.
In the middle of that family upheaval came the news of the victory in the courts.
Its funny. I have been kind of cataloguing the reports in media. Did notice that it is an 'outside the country' phenomenon. I mean, foreign media picked up the story very fast. (We have learnt what power that has on our government.) but, I am yet to see more than a single mention of it in the local media.
But, it was, and still is, a heart warming decision.
We fought. Yes, so help us the deities, we did come out to fight, to say that enough is enough for once, with the help of important allies. We did win. A small victory. But, so sweet, great, so beautiful!
Have a lovely day.