Entebbe Beach, Uganda. Saturday, August 3, 2013.
What brave souls! This second gay pride parade is in a country where the parliament introduced a bill to hang homosexuals. This is the country where American Evangelicals, Rick Warren and Rick Lively gave workshops against homosexuality. Their audience: politicians, government workers, police, teachers and “Christian” churches. Rick Warren is a personal friend of the Prime Minister’s wife.
This is Uganda, where after the gay hanging bills was introduced, a Ugandan newspaper had the headings “Hang Homosexuals” and it published pictures of gays and lesbians. Within a couple of weeks, gay activist David Koto was murdered in his home (nothing taken, it was not a robbery!). This is Uganda where bigoted “Christian” ministers preached hatred while David Koto’s family lowered him into the grave. They were within shouting distance of his burial plot.
This is the country where its Minister (an exs Catholic priest) said that raping young girls was more “normal’ than homosexuality. Yet, in this environment, ONE HUDRED PEOPLE were eager to tell Uganda and the world, that they were born this way, and that this lifestyle was normal for them! .
The country’s second gay pride parade, held on a sandy beach in Entebbe, drew over a hundred people eager to tell the world that they are out, they are proud and they are not afraid to show it.
Last year’s parade, the first ever in Uganda, was broken up by police, and several people were arrested.
But the fact that they were able to pull it off at all has given the community newfound confidence, says activist Kelly Mukwano.“That success gave us confidence that we can do it,” Mukwano said. “We are getting more confident as time goes by.”
Beyondy, who performed on August. 3, 2013, says she was beaten up by police at last year’s gay pride parade.
Saturday’s march was sheltered in the leafy recesses of a botanical garden about 20 miles from Kampala.
But this year, police were informed in advance and the authorities did not intervene. Some revelers felt it was only a matter of time before they are able to march through the streets of the capital.“Guys, it’s baby steps,” said one marcher. “Today, we are here, miles away from Kampala. Baby steps. Soon we shall be on Kampala Road.”
As I have written on many blogs, there is no question that being homosexual in Uganda is still difficult. Police regularly break up events held by the gay and lesbian community, and homosexuals are often disowned by their families and shunned by friends. Violence and intimidation occur on a regular basis. (If You read this please know that you are loved – Paula).
But Mukwano insists that the situation in Uganda has been exaggerated in the international media, and that there are plenty of countries that are worse.“People are dying in Ethiopia,” Mukwano said. “People are dying elsewhere in the world. In Jamaica, people are being beaten all the time because they are gay. So I think that was over-exaggerating that Uganda is the worst place to be gay.”
One brightly dressed transsexual, who goes by the name Beyondy, says that Saturday’s event just made her feel free.
“Last year, I was one of the people who were beaten up by the police,” Beyondy said. “So today I’m happy that we are free. No one is staring and stopping our marching.”
NEXT YEAR, KAMPALA. WELL DONE, MY BROTHERS AND SISTERS. PAULA.