Though the title might suggest that this is going to be a political polemic, it really isn’t going to be like that at all. For one, though I know I am, ahem, a genius political analyst, politics usually bores me quickly because once I figure out what the undercurrents are, I get mighty chafed at anyone who might try to spin it to their advantage.
To me politics is sort of like watching a porn movie – fascinating for about three minutes and then you find yourself fast-forwarding to the end when you realize that it is exactly the same stuff you saw the other day, albeit with different actors. Because politics in the real world politics can’t be fast-forwarded, I simply choose to tune out the din and focus on more wholesome pursuits.
As a gay man trying to eke out a life in Uganda 50 years after she was granted independence from Britain, what does it all mean to me?
Strange as it might sound to some, I don’t feel put upon by this government because I am gay, far from it. My sex life and sexuality are private matters and thus the idea that I have to live in a kind of secretive way where being gay is concerned suits me down to the ground. We are all mostly a product of our upbringing and I thus have no problem with matters of sex and sexuality being as murky as they are in Uganda.
That’s why I have explained in the past that I don’t subscribe to gay pride parades, discussions of sex and sexuality on radio … that sort of [very Western] thing. That we don’t have the kind of sexual openness (some might say permissiveness) in Uganda that you see in San Francisco doesn’t bother me one bit. Open shows of affection, street love fests, sexuality parades etc are neither desirable nor useful in our African settings in my view.
I recall my first tentative steps into the gay world, when I walked out of my home and went to look for other gay men in Notting Hill, London. It was like a walk to the execution but, more than 20 years later, I wouldn’t exchange that experience for anything. It made me who I am today because I knew then beyond a reasonable doubt that if I could find the determination to go through with that terrifying ordeal to find other men who felt the way I did, it was indeed what I wanted to be. I have never looked back since. Every gay man and woman should experience running that gauntlet as they try to find themselves. Nothing, other than fire, can baptize you into the gay world better, I don’t think.
That’s partly why I regret that Uganda has no gay bar to speak of. That should really be the next challenge for the gay community in this country. The bar cannot be on rented premises because that will be easily shut down by putting pressure on the landlord. If it is, however, on land that is owned by a gay man or woman, that would call for a battle royal reminiscent of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 if the authorities tried to frustrate it. That is the kind of fight I would be willing to engage in – one brought to otherwise peaceful same-gender loving men and women who are minding their own business. Then it would be time to take to the streets and airwaves in vociferous protest, if necessary in full undress.
Away from my relatively inconsequential life, I am perturbed that my Ugandan brethren have put up with the current government for the last 26 years. Okay, I get it that you can be married in a giddy euphoria to someone who turns out to be an ogre. But why would you stay married if you know what a good marriage should be like and it is clear yours doesn’t even come close? Fear of being lonely? Or is it the Stockholm syndrome where you resign yourself to your fate and even find solace in liking your captor?
Given the state of Uganda’s public schools, hospitals and roads, how could the cabal that runs this country be welcomed anywhere without being pelted with eggs and flour? Well, of course eggs and flour are too expensive for the average Ugandan so that might be a possible explanation.
Still, are Ugandans really so docile that they will continue to tolerate the wanton corruption running from the top ministers, civil servants and technocrats through every facet of daily life? When are we going to demand that our leaders stop thinking about only themselves?
50 years after Uganda gained independence, it seems far more focus has been paid to erecting swanky buildings in the middle of Kampala (many of them secretly owned by Uganda’s rulers) than on providing quality public education, healthcare and practical measures to insure against needless loss of life. 50 years on, Uganda’s leaders seem content to lead the country in a direction that places emphasis on ‘things,’ while ignoring human life and dignity.Call that what you will … in my book that is a state of affairs that leaves me with a lot of trepidation about the future.