They’ve had a journalist infiltrate the Kampala gay community to try and ferret out what makes gay boys tick. It’s not the first time this sort of thing has happened and the only thing that sets it apart is that this journalist has made a clumsy attempt to be balanced. That said, this journalist simply knows too much about the gay community for me to believe that he didn’t get embedded deeper than he admits. And that is a great cause for discomfort.
The tactics the journalist are pretty basic and that he seems to be so successful merely attests to the humanity in all of us. But it is also a wake-up call for those Ugandan gay boys who seem unable to take the simplest precautions in this day and age when stalkers, blackmailers and malevolent people are on the prowl, with gay boys and girls as their target.
Gug confessed that he is more paranoid than lots of people. He has helped make connections and lessened LGBT isolation in more than one way, yet continues to be anonymous, gay, and closeted, and damned shy! Some have more to lose than others. It is very hard to live in self denial; and sometimes recklessness takes the place of despair.
Maybe I am just a coward, he concluded. And since then, nothing. No post and no response to emails. Alarm bells have been ringing furiously since the weekend.
On Saturday I went to Black Gay Pride held in the grounds of Regents College, Regents Park, London, on Saturday, helping Davis Mac-Iyalla, my partner and others on the Changing Attitude stall. Davis introduced me to a gay Ugandan who has been granted asylum in the UK, an Anglican living and worshipping in Southsea. He told me that many lesbian and gay Ugandans have been arrested in recent months. Why hasn’t this been reported, I asked him. Because the Ugandan media are afraid of being prosecuted under the terms of Bahati’s Anti-homosexuality Bill, even though it hasn’t been passed into law yet, he said.
I emailed gug again when I arrived home, plus other Ugandan contacts, but I still haven’t received a response.
Leonard also alerted me to the All Africa Bishops Conference which is being held at the Imperial Resort Beach Hotel, Entebbe, from 23rd – 29th August 2010, when 400 African Anglican bishops will be hosted by the Church of Uganda. The Archbishop of Canterbury is preaching at the opening service at 9am on Tuesday 24th.
The conference web site contains information about the conference, including the programme (though the final 2 days are missing).
On Wednesday morning there is a presentation on Nurturing Harmonious and Dignified Communities which includes Managing Diversity & Mechanisms for Conflict Management, Protection of the Vulnerable: Children and Protection of the Vulnerable: Women. The second presentation on Thursday morning is Disempowering the Powerful and Empowering the Vulnerable. Homosexuality is most definitely not on the agenda, I’m told, partly to ensure that the South African bishops feel comfortable enough to attend.
My immediate response was to explore whether it is possible to fly to Uganda next Monday, report on the conference and try and make contact with some of the LGBT groups and individuals I know in Kampala. Visas can be obtained in 24 hours, hotels and flights are available, but funding isn’t, time is short, and my safety is a concern to those close to me. If I were to go, I would certainly be the only openly gay person present and almost certainly the only person reporting from a pro-gay, pro-inclusion, pro-TEC perspective.
The Church of Uganda is determined not to give ground in the Anglican Communion, even if many in the church believe that too much attention has been given to homosexuality, but the lives and security of LGBT Ugandans, people like gug and my other Ugandan friends, remain at risk for as long as the prejudice and attitudes fuelled by the Bahati Bill remain unchallenged.