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UGANDA: When Love Becomes Harder than You Bargained for.

She was my first best friend and while we have now grown apart due to circumstances (read growing up and responsibilities); she remains a very special part of my life. Everything I know about friendship, she taught me. Her name is Crystal (not real name) and we were inseparable. We met when I was about 14 and she was 17.

Being in an all girls’ school, teachers discouraged very tightly knit friendships for fear of having to deal with lesbian issues but we didn’t care. She loved me, I loved her and for the first time in my life, I knew what it was like to have someone outside my family dot on me and love me unconditionally. Soon, the rumours started!! Being only 14, all I could do was cry- atleast for the most part. I didn’t really comprehend why the whole school had a problem with our otherwise awesome friendship. In my brain, it was their way of sabotaging my happiness.

There was nothing inappropriate about our friendship, in my opinion. Crystal soon got tired of watching me cry everyday and started avoiding me so the rumours could slowly die out but that hurt even more!! We decided to just get on living our lives, not paying much attention to what the world thought!

This is not the important part of the story but soon, she was expelled for being gay; something, to this day, I still say I never witnessed but oh well!! A few years later, we reconnected and it was like old times! We had lots of fun catching up and re-bonding but something was different. I couldn’t quite put my finger to it but I knew something wasn’t quite the same but I attributed it to being apart for a while.

Two years later, Crystal stopped talking to me out of the blue; she wouldn’t reply my texts or pick my calls. Soon I went back to my life; I mean, there is only so much you can do if a grown a** person won’t talk to you. Just like that, I’d lost my best friend again!

Fast forward, 2012. I’ve been shocked by a lot of things in this lifetime but that phone call from Crystal on a sunny  March afternoon left me speechless. She sounded weak but insisted she had to see me. Now that I think about it, deep down I already knew what she wanted to say and I am now ashamed to say that I hoped that it would be something different.

We met up that evening and boy was it good to see her. I’ve always loved her hugs; those very wholesome hugs that leave you feeling like someone cares and that’s all you need to conquer the world. She had lost weight and no longer was she the vibrant Crystal I knew and loved, in her place was this very scared woman. I braced myself for the worst and the words finally came.

Crystal was apologizing for letting me down, she never intended to. She slowly but firmly told me she was gay!!! I was shuttered beyond words. Hurt that I had let myself go through a lot of pain for our friendship, I got my bag and walked away without saying a word. I was very angry and felt betrayed, how could she?? What kind of demon had come over her?

Text after text, she sent but I dint reply. Infact, I didn’t bother reading and deleted them instantly. A few days later she showed up unannounced at my office and there was nothing I could do but attend to her.

Watching her apologise for who she is knocked me back to reality. Who was I to judge my bestfriend, the rest of the world was judging, wasn’t that hard enough without having what should be her support system turn on her?

That weekend, armed with a bottle of wine and flowers, I went to her house to listen! Her family had turned on her; it was so bad that they threw her out of the house. When that didn’t work, she was hospitalized for eight months; her mother strongly believed there was a cure for homosexuality and she would be damned if she didn’t find it. Being a church leader, she was bent on redeeming her reputation and she would do everything it took to heal her daughter who had turned out to be an embarrassment.

Crystal had been to hell and back!! We talked for hours and by the time I left, enough tears had been shed, apologies said and we prayed that all would be well; after all there want much else to heal such a deep emotional wound. Long story short, she is now dating an awesome girl, her family is slowly coming around (baby steps, right?) and I am still ashamed for judging someone that loves me as much as she does.

She is my inspiration; I have never known anyone as determined as she is and I hope she reads this someday. I am sorry I wasn’t a friend when you needed me the most and thank you Crystal, for loving me, for teaching me to love and accept people with their flaws; hell, I have plenty of my own.

Hopefully, everyone struggling with their sexual identity will come full circle and accept who they are. Your sexuality does not make you any less of a human being and should not define you.

I now have plenty of gay fiends and gay are they or what? They are the happiest people I know and being straight, I can attest that the world needs to calm down, gay people do not want to turn you gay. Do you, let them do them!

By: Robin Mugabe

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