That’s what life is like for a gay young man in Uganda, as explained in a letter from Alan (not his real name).
He sent the letter to members of the Ugandan parliament, urging them to reject the draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which has already made life worse for LGBT people there.
Alan is currently undergoing therapy and seeking work in Kampala after being evicted from his home in western Uganda by officials who were inspired by the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, nicknamed the “Kill the Gays” bill, even though it has not yet been passed.
Here are excerpts from Alan’s letter:
I got married to a woman, had a baby boy and lived my life as a heterosexual man because society demanded it. I went to church like a good Christian, I worked hard, set up a school at my village, because I loved my country, and I wanted promote Uganda’s economy. On the surface, everything seemed fine and normal.
I was conforming to the Ugandan standards of what it means to be a man in Uganda, but I had a secret, a secret that I went to the herbalist to cure, a secret that I went to the church to heal, a secret that I got married to get rid of, a secret that I contemplated suicide over, a secret that was no longer a secret when MP David Bahati introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009.
I started to feel unsafe. I started to feel stigmatized.
Why would MPs rejoice in parliament when a bill that threatens my welfare and strips away my rights is tabled? Why are they seeking to legalize and institutionalize homophobia? Why do they openly and confidently tell lies in the public that I am recruiting children without evidence? Why do they refuse to listen to my side of the story? Why don’t they understand how their actions and words around this bill have affected the lives of innocent Ugandans?
Early this month, the [leader of the Local Council] of my village called me to his office and proceeded to inform me that he had heard testimonies from churchgoers who said that I was no longer fit to be in the church because God may curse them for accepting me in the church. Parents were worried that I was a pedophile who would sodomize all their children in the school. Villagers said that I was cursed by the gods and that I was a gay promoter in the district and would bring the village to ruins.
I sat in shock as the leader informed me how they had knowledge of the Anti-Homosexuality bill and that since Hon. Bahati and the speaker of parliament were not allowing homosexuality in the country, he reached into his desk and pulled out a letter that was headed: VILLAGE BANISHMENT.
He ordered me to leave the village with immediate effect, and also leave the district forever.
These past few days I have been feeling like an outcast in my own country. With just one letter and a bunch of rumors, I have lost my clan, my people and my district.
In just a few days, I have lost the school that I built from scratch because the parents who once entrusted me with their children for 10 years have ordered that my school be shut down because this thing that I was carrying around in my body was going to affect their children.
In just a few days, I have lost my treasured son, because the mother cannot deal with this “disease” that I have that will be passed on to her son.
In just a few days, I have lost my religious bearing. I have lost the church that helped to shape my relationship with God since childhood.
I am afraid of how leaders’ decisions have affected our lives; I fear how this law will be received by people. If the Anti-Homosexuality bill is having so many disastrous effects before it is passed, what about when it is passed into law?
I fear for the future of people like me, I fear for our parents, I fear for our children, I fear for our work, I fear for our livelihoods, I fear that the spirit of “obuntu” [ubuntu] will not be applicable when it comes to people like me. I fear that society has been poisoned with so many lies about us and God knows how they will react, will it be a genocide? Will it be mob justice? Will it be similar to the gas chambers in Germany?
As I ponder how to pick up myself from this dark hole of depression I am in, I want to urge MPs to rethink their positions, to reshape their messages because people are listening, and they are acting. And innocent people are being adversely affected.
Uganda belongs to all of us. You may not like me, you may be disgusted by who I am, you may have ideas on how I should live my life and you may think that this bill will change me. You may think that you are doing the right thing because the church or culture has told you do so. But the truth of the matter is that we are all different, and we must respect our differences.
I don’t have the power to stop you from making laws that you want to make, but for each law that you make, please consider the sexual and gender minorities too because, no matter how low on the social scale we are, we are still Ugandan citizens and we deserve the rights that every other Ugandan is entitled to.
To read the Erasing 76 Crimes blog, click HERE.