Photo by Ndugga Sarah
A participant’s experience
The warm sun beat down on us as we dodged muddy holes in the dirt road leading to the venue. Refusing to all sign our name in the guard’s record book, we treaded on. When we turned the corner a large banner blew in the wind proudly displaying the International day against homophobia and transphobia (IDAHOT) logo. People congregated in small groups talking and laughing.
With over 50 people in attendance the event began with opening remarks and a film screening. The film traced the impact and consequences of the media outings in the community. Following the film was a frank discussion on the development of a strategic way forward in dealing with the media. This discussion couldn’t come at a better time.
Media had been invited to partake in the discussion but none were able to attend because of the recent Government crackdown. Many, including the Red Pepper, which has published numerous homophobic articles and the pictures of many LGBTQ folks, had been shut down. The speakers’ response, however, was most surprising: rather than gloating in the defeat of an adversaryFrank Mugishadefended the Ugandan constitutional right to thefreedom of expression.
Why might it be important for LGBTQ communities to support the media that has brought so much harm to them? While leaders from the Ugandan Kuchu community pointed out that the publicity has brought both good and bad, it is a much larger assault on freedom of expression and human rights that is of greater concern. This uncommon alliance is made feasible because both have much to lose in the hands of a government without concern for the freedom, protection, and human rights of all its citizens.
Following the discussions of the impact of media in the lives of the community a time of sharing was facilitated. Members of the community shared short stories and poems full of hope and pain, love and loss, courage and fear. It was a beautiful space filled with big talent and bigger hearts that spoke to both the joy and concerns of being Kuchu in Kampala.
Naturally following the time of sharing a candlelight vigil was held in remembrance of all of those lost due to homophobia and transphobia. As the sunset the community was the light leading the way on the road to love, inclusion, and equality. The evening closed with everyone in attendance breaking bread together.
By Angel Collie.