A kiss in the dark/A certain time I can call you/A letter of love/But no name did you sign/Pretending to all that we were just friends when I saw you/I didn’t know that you wanted me to be/I didn’t know that you wanted me for your, to be/Your secret love … (Luther Vandross)
There are singers/musicians in Uganda that I know are gay. I have interacted with them as gay men and women, have seen them seeking gay love, have witnessed their hopes for love, struggles and disappointments with their gay relationships and listened to their doubts about same-sex loving in a country where the entire phenomenon is all too often defined by the empty-mind din of people like Martin Ssempa, James Nsaba Buturo and Simon Lokodo.
And so it doesn’t surprise me at all when I now see those erstwhile gay men run around with girls, professing undying love for one after the other, often in their songs. There is nothing for it but to fall into line and toe the straight line if you wish to remain musically relevant in Uganda.
But is there really nothing for it?
Attitudes towards homosexuality in Uganda are indeed changing. The views of the younger generation are discernibly more sophisticated than those of their parents where homosexual loving is concerned. Since life is about the young replacing the old, it stands to reason that It should only be a matter of time before gay Ugandan musicians are pouring their hearts out a la Frank Ocean.
About a year ago, I had a discussion with one of the most successful musicians in Uganda today who is, I should guess, about 15 years younger than me. Having met in an environment where my sexuality was not a concern, I was introduced to him as ‘our gay friend.’ He didn’t miss a beat, and we went on to discuss why being gay was such a big deal in Uganda etc. His enlightenment was as refreshing as it was, in my mind, an eye-opener that the struggle for acceptance even in Uganda is heading in the right direction. This musician already knew some of the gay musicians I knew and wasn’t fazed in the least that they ‘swung on the other side’ to use Ugandan parlance.
And, of course, as Uganda’s schools seek to attain international standards, the issue of homosexuality has to be tackled in classrooms as part of the curriculum. British GCSEs and other international curricula demand that human differences be acknowledged and tolerated. This might send shivers of horror down Simon Lokodo and Martin Ssempa’s spines but there is nothing they can do about it if their government is authorizing private schools to adopt international education standards. Those come with, among very many other things, requirements that children be educated to appreciate that being gay is part and parcel of life.
So, it will be only a matter of time before we dance to thinly veiled homosexual-loving lyrics from one of our young gay singers in Uganda. The views expressed by our young people especially give me confidence that if we are alive long enough, we shall have a Frank Ocean heartfelt gay outpouring in Uganda in my lifetime.
So, I only have to pray for time since … where there is time, there is life.
- Anderson Cooper and Frank Ocean: A Tale of Two Comings Out (ideas.time.com)
- Simon Lokodo heads a quasi-Gestapo unit in Uganda (sebaspace.wordpress.com)
- Religious studies GCSEs to have questions on homosexuality, binge drinking and drugs
- R&B singer, Frank Ocean, comes out (sebaspace.wordpress.com)