It has been over six months since I contributed an article for Gay Star News.
So much has happened but often we can only wait by the sideline and do little or nothing. Often when we intervene we make it worse. That’s the case in global LGBT rights, where we can do harm by saying the wrong thing or even playing the politics of power and money.
There is also the issue of HIV and the gay community. This particular topic is not going to be the first in my comeback series. I will save it for next time. However it is worth noting that despite over 30 years of HIV prevention and new technology including ‘treating people living with HIV to drive down the infection’, we are still experiencing rising HIV infections among gay men. It is the same trend all over the world both developed and developing.
As if that is not enough, there is also the increasing use of drugs and thereby increasing number of drug-related deaths on the gay scene. And I am very sure that it is the same everywhere you turn, either gay or straight, man or woman, white or black.
However, one thing really stood out for me in the last six months. To many of you that have been following the ‘gay’ news of late, you would have noticed the dramatic change from an emphasis on the ‘Kill the Gays Bill’ in Uganda to the fantastic news from the global north.
The world is changing, it’s like we are in eye of a ‘gay marriage’ tornado. Bigots who are not strong enough might well get carried away.
There has been a wave of countries legalizing, or getting close to legalizing, marriage equality and the revolution is also rippling through many states in America. In addition, the challenge of the Defense of Marriage Act in the US looks set to be successful.
But before we get carried away by the good news, we should ask ourselves what is happening to the far right Christians who are losing this battle in the global north? Where are they heading to now and what have they been up to?
Like you, perhaps, I kind of forgot about Uganda. I can’t remember to follow the ‘Jail the Gays Bill’ in Nigeria and if were not for Gay Star News, would pay little attention to the anti gay activities happening in Asia.
I am more concerned to know if France will pass marriage equality. It’s distracting me from worrying if LGBT advocates in Cameroon are safe, if the incarcerated human rights defender in Zambia has been released or if the members of Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe are hiding safely from the painted claws of Lady Mugabe.
It’s not that we don’t care. But as humans, we get tired of bad news sometimes and tend to look for good news. And isn’t it obvious that we live in a depressing world anyway? I would give my last cent for one piece of good news a day as part of my victim supplement.
So for me and others who found our way to the Sundance Film Festival in London to see God Loves Uganda it was a rude awakening.
I have spent the last six months touring the world with another film about the gay struggle in Uganda, Call Me Kuchu. I actually became the poster boy for the film despite the fact that I was never featured in it. My only claim was the relationship I had with many human rights activists in Uganda and with the murdered hero of the story, David Kato, someone I have so much honor and respect for.
So when the film came on the big screen, it was clear I was going to be on another bumpy ride. I was just hoping this would be a better trip to Uganda. I had forgotten to bring my handkerchief with me, and I might need it.
Half way into the film, I could hardly contain my anger and frustration at the reality of what I was watching. I spent the whole night shaking my head, laughing in anger and at one point was just swearing like a drunken teenager on a Saturday night out.
God Loves Uganda answered my question of ‘Where are the evangelic Christians now they are losing in the global north?’ The documentary, written and directed by Roger Ross Williams an award winning African American gay filmmaker, profiled the ambitions of American evangelicals to radicalize Africa – starting with Uganda.
The film, which makes use of undercover reporters and first hand story telling, highlights the how the American crusaders are turning Uganda to ‘God’. The agenda is simple. They have their strategy and the money to invest.
It is a fight for the soul of Africa and the militant evangelicals are using the message of ‘gay hate’ and the politics of fear to turn Uganda against her people.
The strategy is based on repeatedly saying ‘the homosexuals’ are coming for your children. They are going to destroy you country and your race and it is an agenda of the devil.
So powerful and well financed is the message that it was very easy for them to penetrate Uganda.
Within months of Scott Lively, the US anti-gay campaigner, visiting Uganda, the ‘Kill The Gays Bill’ was introduced to parliament. Mind you I am not in anyway saying he orchestrated the bill, but he is now being sued by Sexual Minorities Uganda in the US courts for inciting homophobic persecution.
Another key part of the strategy was to use Ugandans, rather than their American backers, to spearhead the anti-gay agenda. It’s a decision that paid off.
The result of this out-spilling of hatred is not hard to find. Since the evangelical movement descended on Africa, the number of African LGBT seeking asylum in global north has increased significantly.
From Angola to Zimbabwe, the hate crime towards LGBT people has risen. In the last six months, at least 10 LGBT people have been killed in South Africa. And in Cameroon, which neighbors Nigeria, also a hive of radical evangelical activity, we are seeing increasing arrests on ridiculous charges like a woman being caught carrying condoms.
While the world celebrates equal marriage, something we have fought so hard for, we forget that the losers of this battle are becoming winners in another place.
And almost half of Uganda’s population is below 35 years old. That means if we don’t plan strategically and win this fight, we will lose the battle against hate there for a long time to come.
Still certain things gave me hope in the film. Seeing Bishop Christopher Seyonjo, a powerful advocate of human rights in Uganda, I believe that the battle is not lost.
And there was something outstanding in God Loves Uganda I would have loved the filmmakers to give more attention to. It was the story of a young gay man in Uganda setting up a school in his village. These are the kind of stories that should be making headlines worldwide. These are the kind of initiatives we should be supporting if indeed we are sincere in our desire.
I sat there and asked myself where he got money to pay for the teachers? How is he able to get the resources together? What came back to me is; like many other strong African LGBT activists, he is one daredevil determined to make a change in his country and he knows education will make that change.
As I left the screening, I asked myself, what more can I do? Then I realized it’s not just about me. The question is what we can do.
I do not know the answer, but I know one thing for sure, like the producers of Call Me Kuchu, Roger Williams is calling us to action. What that action should be is an individual decision, but one thing we should not forget is that ‘inaction’ will be the biggest gift we can give the radical evangelicals in Africa.