My Pot Trip

Amsterdam! The city famous for its bicycles and “coffee” shops. Or is it Amsterdam, the city that has made bicycles and “coffee” shops famous?

I have waited almost six months to write about this experience for two reasons; the first one is that if there is a nosy official reading this, he/she will surely forgive me for admitting to a little spliffy indiscretion in the liberal free-for-all that is Amsterdam. The second one is that it has taken me this long to finally come to grips with exactly how my puffy experience made me feel.

After arriving at our hotel in Haarlem, our bags stowed and a nice meal out of the way, we took the train to Amsterdam, about 30 minutes away and arrived there at about 5pm.

I have been to Amsterdam before – many years ago. That first time we drove all the way from London, arrived in the evening just in time for evening rush hour. By the time we had dropped our bags, I had caught a cold so bad that I could hardly breath through my nostrils. We nonetheless went out into the cold, dreary evening, had one of the best steaks I have ever had at what I still think was an Argentinian restaurant (those I was with insist it wasn’t) took in a puff (or two, or three) at the nearest coffee shop and I retired to bed because the cold finally won the war over my body.

So, I really didn’t feel the effects of the three (or four, or five) puffs I took because I went to bed almost immediately thereafter … congested and very, very tired.

This past summer, I again found myself in Amsterdam, in a perfect frame of mind and with nary a cold despite the rather subdued summer weather compared to the barmy and sultry temperatures I had left back home. But I digress.

Once off the Haarlem to Amsterdam train, we made our way to the pot district. Upon inquiry, we were directed to a coffee shop which was directly right there in front of us. Talk about looking for the police station at the police precinct. The shop was empty but the lady behind the counter couldn’t have been more friendly. She took us through the absolutely bewildering array of varieties of weed with such names as super silver, gold, Congolese and goodness knows what else. Despite the braggadocio I felt from the stuff not having affected me 15 years ago, we decided to settle for what the ‘coffee’ lady said was the milder stuff.

Joints were rolled and in no time, we were puffing away merrily. About 10 minutes later, we got up and left. I didn’t feel any effect on me whatsoever, and I began to conclude that I was really immune to this cannabis psychedelic nonsense.

Then I began to notice that the city was becoming quieter and quieter. Though I could see people milling around everywhere, they were not saying a word and they were passing us by in total silence. The silence was quite reminiscent of a movie I watched many years ago about the after-effects of a nuclear explosion. Before leaving ‘our’ coffee shop, we had mapped out on a city planner where we were going to next. It seemed to be a couple of minutes away and when we left the coffee shop we headed there right away.

We walked down one alley, to the canal, down another alley, to the promenade, all the time carefully reading from our map. After walking like that for what seemed like forever, we admitted to ourselves that we were lost. That was when I started giggling uncontrollably. We checked our map again, established our bearings and headed down yet another alley. And we walked, and walked, and walked. The alley seemed to go on and on forever and, worse, it seemed to me that lifting one foot off the ground and placing it in front of me was taking an eternity.

There was no denying it anymore. I was stoned. And we were now hopelessly lost in the middle of Amsterdam. But we hadn’t come all the way to spliff city to get lost within a couple of hundred feet so we assured ourselves that we would figure out where our destination was. As we studied our map, two ladies came up to us, showed us their map and asked for directions. After admitting that we were just visitors, too, we helped them figure out where they wanted to go and off they went – giggling.

By now, the city was deathly silent. My mouth and lips were dry and I had this feeling of being spaced out, of light-headedness and being on cloud nine. I was also feeling slightly giddy and nauseous. I had to sit down. Around this time, we were around The Bull Dog coffee shop and we sat down across from it.

Sitting in front of The Bulldog, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was seeing the same people walk by again and again, sort of like in a movie that keeps on rewinding itself and playing from the same point. I was glad to be sitting down because my legs had turned to lead and I was feeling distinctively woozy.

And then came my own silence. Normally garrulous without any prompting, I no longer wanted to lift my tongue. I watched the recurring images of my mental movie replaying themselves again and again as the same people walked past – in silence. My brain’s reaction was a couple of seconds slow and I couldn’t be bothered to think. It nonetheless became quiet apparent to me, despite my stoned state, that the reason why I seemed to be seeing the same people again and again was that they were all stoned, or lost or both. I giggled idiotically at my realization.

I was also hungry, ravenously hungry. That, however, didn’t stop the overwhelming feeling I had of being part of a Pollyanna-esque existence that made me feel like donning a garland of flowers around my neck and handing out spade-fulls of love and understanding while singing Kumbaya. And I could still not stop the giggling about the absurdity of it all, the sense that I had puffed myself into a befuddled state where I was not in touch with my mental or physical faculties.

Slowly, gradually, the effects of my six (or seven or eight or nine or ten or whatever) puffs wore off and we set out again to look for the destination we were planning on when we left ‘our’ coffee house in the first place. As we sought it, I knew that I was done smoking spliffs for that day, and for many more days to come. We eventually arrived at our destination which was barely a fifteen minute walk from ‘our’ coffee house.

Despite having drunk coffee and wolfed down two or three pastries, I was still hungry. We ended up at a the Grasshopper restaurant near the Amsterdam train station. Just as I had done 15 years earlier, I ordered steak. It was one of the worst steaks I had ever eaten in any restaurant anywhere, but I finished every morsel of it completely.

By the time we left the Grasshopper, it was close to midnight … and time to head back to Haarlem. And I was still giggling uncontrollably like an idiot who has stolen a sneak peek at Mother Superior’s unflattering knickers.


Thank You Monitor of Uganda 1

“The only thing worse than being talked about
is not being talked about at all”
Oscar Wilde

In Luganda (Uganda’s most widely spoken language is Luganda) we have a saying “ekkumi terikyaaw’ omu” or, crudely translated “no one can lose all one’s friends.”

In these absolutely fraught times for the gay community in Uganda, the Monitor has been an absolute godsend in its near-blanket coverage of the evil that this bill is. Obviously, they cannot come out and endorse homosexuality, no Ugandan newspaper can go that far. But, in my view, the Monitor has done the next best thing; made sure that the subject is covered exhaustively, thereby giving friends and foe the information to make informed decisions about what the Bahati anti-gay bill really means.

While a lot of attention has been paid to the international community’s condemnation of this repugnant bill, the Monitor has provided consistent coverage on the ground; coverage so far-reaching that history should favorably judge as priceless the Monitor’s contribution to the campaign against the Bahati bill.

The Monitor’s coverage related to the abhorrent anti-gay bill over the last couple of months (in no particular order):

0. The story of a young Ugandan gay couple

1. Man of God backs government against gays

2. Sweden to cut aid to Uganda over anti gay law

3. Why anti-gay bill should worrry us

4. How relevant is the anti-gay bill?

5. Government will not yield to homosexual pressure – Buturo

6. Where girls are married off at 12 (not a direct reference to the anti-gay bill, but who failed to notice the implied contradiction of Parliament hounding same-sex consensual adult lovers when nothing serious is being done about blatant child abuse in Eastern Uganda – yet child abuse is already a crime under the law?)

7. Uganda hits back over gay criticism

8. Anti-Gay bill – why we should all be very afraid

9. Women MPs in support of the anti-gay bill

10. British PM against anti-gay legislation

11. Anti-gay law tabled

12. We will not bend over for aid, Buturo tells donors

13. Gay bill a human rights set back – US official

14. Homosexuality bill is extreme – activists

15. Uganda’s toothless battle on gays

16. Bahati’s bill should be returned to sender

17. Homosexuality bill rejected

18. Anti-gay bill; MPs should address more pressing problems

19. Tied Foreign Aid? [sic]

20. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009

21. Horns locked over gay law

Thank you very much Monitor, thank you very much indeed.

Hillary Clinton Where Art Thou?

“Probably my worst quality is that
I get very passionate about what I think is right.”

Hillary Clinton

Britain’s Gordon Brown has condemned the bill. Sweden is threatening to cut Aid. Canada has condemned the bill. France has condemned the bill. And all America has come out with is this puffy “guidance?” Psst.

Hillary Clinton, Madam Secretary of State of the United States of America:

The State Department can be more categorical than this. The guidance, though helpful in a general sense, might as well have been addressed to Saudi Arabia or Myanmar for all anyone cares. Ma’am … the problem with general guidance is that it is … general. Yet the bill about to be debated in Uganda’s rubber-stamp Parliament is very specific.

Madam Secretary of State: a country with which America has strong ties is about to criminalize what people are. Forget making actions a crime; they are about to criminalize the being. Not only that, they are about to set jail terms for anyone who knows about the being and says nothing. Yes, if such a law were to pass in the United States of America, it would ensnare people like Dick Cheney who knew that his daughter was lesbian and kept it a family matter. It would lead to the jailing of thousands of school teachers and counselors who know that their students are gay and keep it to themselves.

“people remain vulnerable …”In the last six and a half years, we have seen a dangerous experiment in extremism in …”

Do you remember any of those words Ma’am? No, you didn’t say them about Uganda. But you said something to that effect about the American people and the dangers you felt the administration of George W. Bush posed to them respectively. Now that you are in position to influence what happens to a sector of Uganda’s population that is vulnerable and whose government is engaged in a dangerous experiment with extremism, say the words again, Ma’am, only more directly and specifically.

Humbly, we beseech you to speak out forcefully for what is right – as you have always done. Let us hear your own voice on this, ma’am. Please.


International AIDS Conference heads to DC in July 2012

Following U.S. President Barack Obama’s October announcement that the United States would end its entry restrictions on people living with HIV effective January 4, 2010, International Aids Conference is returning to the United States. The International AIDS Society (IAS) announced that the 19th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2012) will be held in Washington, DC, in July 2012.The conference was last held in the United States in 1990 in San Francisco, California.

Thank you for applying good old-fashioned common sense, President Barack Obama.

Sweden Ups the Ante

Uganda’s Monitor is reporting that Sweden has threatened to cut aid if Uganda passes the anti-gay bill. Apparently, Sweden gives up to $50m annually in aid to Uganda and they may be trying to use that as leverage to get the Ugandan Parliament to abandon the Bahati anti-gay bill.

When politics, dogma and the politics of money collide, the results are usually messy and this promises to be no different.

This nascent skirmish between Sweden and Uganda has contemporary parallels with the fight going on between the government of the District of Columbia (DC) and the Catholic Church in the United States. DC has decided to legalize gay marriage and once the law is passed, all agencies that operate in DC will have to give the same rights and privileges (medical benefits, 401K retirement, etc) that they currently give to their married heterosexual employees. The measure is going to pass in DC overwhelmingly because only 3 of the 13 council members are opposed, and the mayor can’t wait to sign it.

The Catholic Church has, however, threatened to abandon the poor it looks after rather than agree to be bound by the requirement of the gay marriage measure. They have argued that their faith cannot be compromised and so, since they believe that homosexuals don’t deserve the right to marry, the Catholic Church is saying that they will abandon the charity work they have been doing for the poor and indigent of DC rather than be asked to give equal rights to gay staff as they now do to their heterosexual staff. The DC Council has also dug in and the measure has already passed the first vote.

So, the stage is set. The Catholic Church has to decide whether to stick with religious dogma and abandon the needy or compromise and continue doing its charitable Christian duty. This is a particularly testing time because the onset of winter is nigh and the poor and homeless are already looking to the Catholic shelters on which they rely to get through the severely cold December to March months. If, as expected, the law is passed, it would come into effect January 1, 2010, at exactly the time when the Church’s services are most needed by people, the majority of whom are probably not gay. The choices before the Church couldn’t be starker.

As in the DC/Catholic Church disagreement, the position of the Swedish government and that of Minister Nsaba Buturo is clear. DC is saying that equality is equality and any organization that operates in DC has to adhere to DC law. In the same way, Sweden would be saying that it has certain standards it expects of any country that takes its money. If those standards are not met, they will not disburse the money. Nsaba Buturo is, however, saying that Uganda can do to its citizens as it pleases and Sweden can stuff its money where the sun don’t shine.

Is there really anything new in the Swedish position? Does anyone remember the embargo against South Africa’s apartheid regime? Countries all over the world cut aid and ties to South Africa on account of the maltreatment of the black majority. The Boers stood firm for a generation, but I don’t believe anyone in Uganda faulted the donors for withholding their money, even though the resultant squeeze also hurt the majority black population.

In Uganda’s case, of course gays are in the minority but does that mean that the Swedish and DC government of ‘equality is equality’ doesn’t apply? It does for the simple reason that human rights are human rights for all; not just heterosexual males or thieving politicians.

Don’t forget, too, that this is not the first time that donors have prevailed on Uganda to abandon Nazi-style rhetoric against a segment of the population. In 1999, Yoweri Museveni exhorted the police to arrest homosexuals and have them jailed. It took the quiet intervention of the donor community for Museveni to reverse himself a few months later and say that gay men and women should be left in peace if they lived their lives privately. To-date, that remains one of the most spectacular Museveni u-turns of his presidency.

So, Sweden is well within its rights to demand certain standards of conduct from countries it gives money to, especially where the human rights of citizens are concerned. If I am looking after your family’s well-being, I can decide not to give you any more money if I determine that you use the money I give you to get drunk and go beat up your wife and kids.

Related Reading:

1. State Department Guidance on Uganda

2. Ugandan church leader brands anti-gay bill ‘genocide’


Where Girls Are Married At Age 12

Yes, you read that right. Girls in part of Uganda are still being married off (to old men) at the age of 12.

Not only that, in the same places that these children are married off before they reach puberty, the same report says that the practice of surgically scraping out their clitorises and sewing up their vaginas using primitive equipment and no anaesthesia is still commonplace in parts of Eastern Uganda.

Yes, this is Uganda where Parliament is debating consensual adult same gender loving and has largely ignored female genital mutilation and blatant child abuse among the Kupsabiny of Eastern Uganda.

Martin Sempa, Stephen Langa, Luke Orombi, Hon. Bahati, Nsaba Buturo … please get your priorites right. I know you have a living to make by attacking soft targets. If you really care about children, the Sabiny is an obvious case to start with. The law against child molestation is already on the Ugandan statute books but is not being enforced. How about leading marches to Parliament and lobbying MPs to stop girls’ childhoods being robbed of them at such a tender age?

Martin Ssempa, you are sponsored by Wait Training, USA, an organization whose avowed aim is to prevent child abuse and under-age sex. Why, oh why, have you not once said anything about this kind of abuse? Or are you saying that consensual gay sex between adults is a more important priority to your handlers than female genital mutilation of children?

Take it away, gentlemen, take it away.

Related Reading:

1. Why Govt Is Concerned With Gays And Not Corruption

Rachel Maddow Joins the Fight Against Uganda’s Anti-Gay Bill

Rachel Maddow on Uganda’s Nazi anti-gay bill

Rachel Maddow featured Uganda’s anti-gay bill tonight, giving the subject coverage of about 5 minutes, bless her.

In her usual sardonic manner, Maddow highlighted Rick Warren’s distancing himself from Martin Ssempa’s vindictive tactics while, on the other hand refusing to condemn Uganda’s Gestapo parliamentary legislation that seeks to jail hundreds of thousands of homosexual Ugandans as well as parents, teachers, onlookers and sympathizers.

The evangelical right in America scarcely deserves anyone’s time. So rabid and paranoid are their views on almost any human interest aspect that one would be excused for thinking of them as Stalin and Adolf Hitler reincarnate.

But, as usual, I digress. This was about Rachel Maddow decrying Uganda’s attempts to legalize mob justice.

Silly me.

Related Reading/Viewing:

1. Gay Pressure Mounts on Museveni, Bahati

2. The Latest on Uganda

3. Rachel Maddow: Debunking a Cure

4. Rachel Maddow takes on Richard Cohen


Gay Men And Good, Honest Relationships 5

It’s official! There are a lot of lonely gay men out there today. No, rephrase that: there are a lot of miserable, lonely, frustrated, disillusioned, muddled, bewildered, emotionally empty gay men out there today.

Yet, having gay sex has never been easier for gay men all over the world.

Thanks to the internet, one can log on to Adam4adam, Men4now, Gaydar and a plethora of gay dating/sex sites and find someone to grope you within a few seconds. Sex parties are advertised openly, providing yet another outlet for those who are looking for quick, anonymous sex round the neighborhood so to speak. Being gay is now so passé even in backwaters such as Burundi and Uganda that parliaments are taking up precious parliamentary time to try and curtail homosexual activity, and presidents are secretly signing anti-gay bills in the dead of night.

In terms of publicity and raising awareness, this couldn’t be a better time to be gay and searching because homosexuality is being given prominence by everyone; from hypocritical, self-serving, pontificating pastors and wannabe presidents in America to hypocritical self-serving pontificating pastors and cabinet ministers in third world backwaters. As a gay fraternity that used to be hidden in the furtiveness that Oscar Wilde called the love that dare not speak its name, we are now feted in national parliaments all over the world by friendly legislators and pilloried by vindictive and confused parliamentarians as well the press. We are now employed as openly gay men in the highest offices of the land in such diverse places as Britain and Israel.
It was this thread online about what good, honest relationships mean today that got me thinking about this subject:
[Edited] money quote:

Do gay people in 2009 still have good, honest, lasting relationships or is it mostly a “SEX thing” for a couple of months and then they move on? Many complain about not being able to find a good lover, but then want to screw half the town and expect their mates to behave as if everything is okay. Do we put unreal stipulations on what an ideal mate is without considering what we bring to the table? We are only human and we all have some kind of baggage/imperfections. What do you think gays need to consider for having a (honest) lasting relationship? Do gays guys even have good honest relationships these days?

Difficult questions, that no doubt don’t have a straight yes or no answer, AfroGay will nonetheless hazard a long-winded one.

Just 50 years ago, when gay relationships were still conducted clandestinely everywhere in the world, gays took the trouble to nurture personal relationships because having them seemed like a godsend. There has always been a lot of one-night-stands going on in the gay shadows, of course, but the secretiveness of gay life forced many to take relationships seriously relatively early. Only 15 years ago, I knew at least 20 couples who had been together for more than 5 years. Today, I struggle to count on one hand the gay relationships that have lasted that long among my peers.

The more fertile climate for easy sex seems to have run a coach and horses through our collective conscience as nesting human beings. Where we used to make effort to try and understand others, we now grope their pants within minutes “to see what they are working with” as an acquaintance recently remarked. Dick size is the be-all-end-all and many of us openly admit that once we are not impressed with the size of the dick, we are off again to search for better endowed specimens. The freedom to explore as our desires demand has, paradoxically, led to the loss of the most crucial ingredients in establishing lasting relationships – forbearance and fortitude.

Thus, one hears a lot of gay boys saying that they don’t want relationships; just sex. One just has to scratch the surface, however, to realize that this is just mock braggadocio for the most part. Human beings, be they gay or straight, are meant to be with someone. When one is a teenager, that is the time when one can act like a bar fly without compunction because that is what teenagers do. Slinging one’s hook with everything that comes your way throughout one’s twenties is also not something terribly unique in the gay world especially since many gay boys get the ability to explore their sexuality in their twenties. But when one gets into one’s thirties and is still looking solely for hit-and-run sex over establishing meaningful relationships, one has to be very careful as that can portend the road to a slippery slope.

And have you ever noticed that the men in their 30s or older who claim not to want long term relationships are also the most jealous and territorial if one of their conquests is snatched from them? Forget the cattiness of teenagers; hell hath no fury than a 30+ something man who loses a conquest to someone else. The bitchiness is internalized and thus less pronounced but the hate that develops in such situations can take years to heal if ever. That, to AfroGay, is the clearest indication that, deep inside, we all want to have someone to call our own.

Once you hit your 40s, life alone is exactly that; life alone. Anyone who has been having sex since their 20s kn0ws that there is nothing new anyone can show you sexually after 20 years of active service. What one is looking for, as one approaches middle age, is companionship and a meeting of souls, with sex as the icing on the cake. Sex is of course still available for 40 and 50+, but the absence of a soul mate is usually a grating reminder that one is not complete.

Check out any gay dating/sex website today and you will be shocked at the number of men over 45 on there. In reality, they are looking for much more than sex but the environment has been bastardized to such an extent that they must now settle for what they can get. And let’s face it, unless one has gone to almost superhuman lengths to stay “with it” a man of 50 is not as attractive as he was when he was in his 20s. Yet, on Adam4adam alone, there are more than 1200 men in Washington, DC and New York City alone, over the age of 45 who say on their profiles that they are searching for relationships. That is a very conservative number, though, because in typical Adam4adam ‘airbrushing’ 55 years is the new 45 and it is not unheard of for 58 year-old men to say on their profiles that they are 36. You are, therefore, talking about more than 2,000 men out of at least 18,000 in just those two metropolises who are in their 40s or older who are alone and/or lonely, and are searching for lasting love. Unfortunately, time is no longer on their side and life should get even more complicated as more of us grow out of our eligible 30s into the precarious 40s.

Still in your 30s and saying that you are only interested in quick sex without commitment or emotional capital? Look around you and stand warned; the club of middle aged gay men who are alone is growing.

Freak Show Heading to Kampala

If the reports are to be believed, a boxing freak show is about to be put on in Uganda – with the protagonists being two elderly grandparents who should know better than to take off their clothes in public, let alone engage in a commercial boxing bout.

Evander Holifield has just turned 47, looks very good for that age. His opponent, Francois Botha is 41 and looks a tired 60. The prime fighting age of any boxer is between 25 and 32. When Muhammad Ali retired for good, he was a shadow of his former self. His last bout was in 1981 when he was 41. He duly (and fittingly) lost that fight to a much younger, but ultimately unremarkable, Trevor Berbick.

What drives men like Holyfield to carry on despite the writing on the wall that they are past their shelf life? AfroGay doesn’t know and, truth be told, is too embarrassed by the whole thing to bother finding out. Suffice to say that when men of a certain age deign to take off their clothes in the name of sports and lumber around the boxing ring like elephants , the words sad and desperate take on new meaning.

Uganda Debating the Judicial Persecution of 500,000 Ugandans

Recent statistics show that Uganda’s population is now at 33m people. In most countries the percentage of gay men and women is anywhere between 1 and 10%.

For the sake of argument, let us assume that only 1% of Uganda’s population is gay. Based on those statistics, Uganda has at least 300,000 gay men and women. That means that Uganda is about to debate the judicial murder of 300,000 Ugandans whose crime no one can pinpoint, and indeed who most people don’t know because they conduct their same sex loving in private. Add to that number the parents that will get seven years for not turning in their gay children, and the teachers who will be sent to Luzira Prison for not snitching on gay students, Uganda is preparing to sanction the legal killing and jailing of 500,000 Ugandans.

Can someone pass the people who wrote the Bahati Anti-Gay Bill a detailed history of how Nazi Germany came to be?

Related Reading:

1. British PM Against Gay Legislation

2. Uganda Hits Back Over Gay Criticism