Feb 23, 2011

GAY UGANDA/PART ONE: What is it like to grow up gay in Uganda?

It is hard.
¨The first inklings of difference: When one realizes and suppresses the surprising reactions to one’s peers. When one joins in in the raucous, very ordinary conversations of horny teenagers and must hide his own puzzlement at not being similarly aroused; instead, I was increasingly fascinated by bodies so similar to my own.

It was a time of immense conflict, for me, those teen years. I fled to religion, finding comfort in the teaching that sex and sexual feelings were something vaguely “not good.” But I couldn't deny my feelings. Nor could my developing intellect be denied in jumping to its own conclusions about my feelings.

Realizing that I was different, I instinctively chose to hide, but at the same time I was driven to devour all information about myself and these feelings within me. But the first problem was that there was hardly any information available. The old books I scoured in the school libraries hardly mentioned what being gay actually meant for an individual.

And, at the same time, there was much that I could hear from the mouths of my peers and elders. Homosexuality, it was called, this feeling of excitement and longing for the touch of another guy. It was condemned in the Bible, which was one of the few volumes daring to even mention the subject. And, was there any other interpretation than the literal one? The church, the preachers—they mentioned homosexuality only to condemn it. Decisively. Unambiguously.

I could remain celibate, play at being sexless, bury myself in my books which I loved, and pursue a career that I found challenging. But I discovered that I couldn't hide myself from my own thoughts and desires.

I simply could not be gay—it was not an option. I was an African man. I had to fall in love with a woman. I had to have children in order to make my father proud and to build a stronger clan. I had to have heirs because my dad had already designated me as his heir. Being one of the dreaded homosexuals, or homos, as we are derisively termed in popular speech, was impossible...

For some time, I lived in secret; it was so easy to hide. The camouflage is perfect because so few Ugandans can even conceive that the person next to them, a classmate, a work colleague, a relative, a clan-mate, would ever dare to be a homo. We are invisible, and we gladly embrace that cloak.

But, the hypocrisy was not to be—not for me...¨ please read it all HERE

·  Thanks to Gay Uganda, sidebar
·  Thanks to The Mantle, forum for progressive critique

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