This is a paean to all our friends from abroad who come looking for me for information and, as most call it,” research material” to pad their narrative of what is going on around LGBTI issues in Uganda.
I am not an LGBTI activist, have never seen myself as one. I write about what catches my fancy and rail against anti-gay sentiment when I think there is a point to it.
In that light, I usually do not report gay “news” the way, for instance, Kenya’s Denis Nzioka does because gay life doesn’t put food on my table or pay for my Ferragamo shoe fetish. I comment on it when I think it is worth it but mostly shy away from the prolific reporting of everything. The reason for this is simple – I have no ability to confirm the veracity of the gay and anti-gay stories that reach my ears. More to the point, I am well aware that our boys and girls lie through their teeth in a bid to elicit sympathy from naïve and/or colonial-minded “savior” onlookers, if not other foreigners who themselves make a living off “caring” about poor black gay people in Africa.
I have met a number of foreigners in the past who were doing “research” here in Uganda. Others claimed to be writing novels with a Ugandan LGBTI theme. I came away with the sentiment that they were inexperienced, even ignorant, thrill seekers who didn’t understand the environment they were purporting to care about and who were thus doing more harm than good by creating the impression in the minds of hungry gay Ugandans that they could save them.
I thus now try to avoid these crusaders who seek my presence in their company when they visit or send me emissaries to make me lend my voice to their planned narrative.
Yet, in truth, they only have to read up on this blog to know what my views are. In brief, they are that foreigners should stop their condescending tendency to assume that without them there would be no gay Ugandans in existence. They should also stop pretending (or assuming) that they are of superior pedigree who have more to say about us than we do simply because they are white or from a foreign land. With that should then come the humility of getting on planes to come and look for “research material” only by invitation.
I am totally against foreigners telling me that I am suffering. I abhor them talking at me as though I have no ability to comprehend my circumstances.
Do we black gay people in Africa need help? Yes. What sort of help? HIV/Aids Awareness, access to lube and condoms, training on how to set up sustainable self-help financial projects so that we have enough money to stare down those who might think we are pitiable souls on account of our sexuality. We need to have the financial clout that muzzles friends and foes and they start singing our praises despite what they think of our sexuality. Money talks in Africa, too, and that is what we need in our bank accounts. If you can open up Fort Knox and send us at least $10m for each of our bank accounts, believe me at a stroke that will be the end of homophobia in Uganda as we know it.
That we are still struggling to make access to basic health care a given, more than 10 years after the first LGBTI organization set up in Uganda should tell a lot about us and how useful the kind of foreign “research” has been. No wonder some foreigners, in connivance with our own, have now opted for wholesale human trafficking of gay people from Uganda to wherever on the questionable grounds of “gay persecution.” Yet, in truth, the bigger enemy in LGBTI Uganda is poverty which is what makes us run away – claiming LGBTI persecution when in reality we are simply too poor to exist as gay men and women in our own country.
How about research material that will be needed by those we shall eventually ask help from? Train us to do the research. Since it is our story, we should be the ones telling it.
My final word to all those foreigners who come to Uganda to explore why I am a sad, put-upon, hounded, persecuted gay man at death’s door:
I am not an idiot who doesn’t recognize when I am suffering. So there is no need for you to volunteer to come to Uganda to find out how you can help me unless you come laden with bullion bars or briefcases full of $100 bills. $10m in my bank account is what I need to mount an anti-gay campaign in Uganda that will be so successful that it will close the chapter of homo antipathy within months. With two university degrees and exposure to at least half the world over the years, access to Twitter, Facebook and goodness knows what other social medium, if I need your bromides, or want to cry on your shoulder about my misery, I will let you know. Trust me on that.
Oh, on this I speak for myself. If you can find other miserable black basket cases that are desperate for your pity and charity, knock yourself out with them.