By: Ruth Muganzi
A determined group of gay rights activists has refused to let the homophobic society and discriminatory laws in Uganda deter them from their fight for equality. With rumours making rounds that the Anti- Homosexuality Bill will be re-tabled in Parliament at any time, the strong-minded activists this week took to distributing more copies of the first Issue of Bombastic Magazine.
The magazine which entails personal stories and experiences of people in the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community was distributed across the country by over 60 volunteers.
“We hope this project will change people’s attitudes towards the LGBTI community. For a long time, people have been sharing information using all sorts of media; for instance in Uganda, information in regards to the LGBTI community could mostly be found on the internet yet the biggest part of the population cannot access such technology.
It was for this reason that we decided to print Bombastic Magazine to reach people at the grassroots. Hopefully, sharing our lives, telling our own stories in our own voices will make a difference. Generally with this magazine, we hope every Ugandan will get the right information about LGBTI persons and stop persecuting them for who they are,” said Vincent, one of the activists at the fore front of this campaign.
This is the second phase of the distribution of Bombastic Magazine which was first circulated in December 2014. Due to high demand for the magazine, the publication team was left with no choice but to print more copies to circulate in a second phase.
Asked how the public had received the magazine, Vincent explained that the response was overwhelming and the general population had received it positively. He further asserted that most people queried why it had taken so long to come up with such a publication.
“It is amazing how positively people have responded to Bombastic Magazine. People are beginning to acknowledge the existence of LGBTI persons and understand that they were born that way; and for us, our goal is being achieved. Averting homophobia one person at a time is what we why we started Bombastic and while we are still a long way off, we know we are now on the right course,” Vincent said.
Bombastic Magazine is not a one-time publication and the team hopes to publish their second issue soon.
“We call upon all well-wishers to donate to this noble cause because it is not an easy fete. Your contributions will help us make Bombastic Magazine a more regular publication,” Vincent said in regard to future publications.
Below, some of the volunteers share their experiences of the magazine distribution
Ritah Mayanja Kasese District
It was great pleasure to be contacted again for the distribution of the magazine; I worked together with Bad-black in Kasese district. Being our first time in Kasese, we were a little worried about the language barrier, security and reactions from the people.
After an eight hour journey characterized by a flat tyre and three hour stop in Mubende, we finally arrived at 4:30am.
Distribution of the magazine went off without a hitch although we were apprehensive of our personal security. Taking pictures while distributing the magazine caused a bit of commotion but we managed to finish the exercise with no major incident.
Kaweesi Joseph and Barigye Ambrose Mbale
This is a short narrative of our field experience while distributing the bombastic magazine in Mbale town government offices, universities, police, hospitals and the general public. On arrival, Kevin a member of Hope an LGBTI organization based in Mbale town, picked us right to the hotel where we spent the night. There we drew plans on how to proceed with the field work the next morning.
The following day, we took magazines to Bugema University, Uganda Christian University Mbale branch, Islamic university in Uganda, Mbale main referral hospital, Mbale district head offices, Mbale police, banks and the general public especially boda boda stages.
The distribution was a success although we faced few intimidations from the head of security at Mbale Referral Hospital quizzed us about who gave us the authority to take photos on government premises but we managed to convince him the pictures were for accountability purposes.
At the main Police Station, Ambrose took the magazines straight to the OC CIID and was requested to avail more copies of the magazine. The distribution which started at 9:00am was done by 11:30am and we set off for Kampala immediately thereafter.
Gulu town is still so raw; the people are still so ignorant about homosexuality and are very hostile towards the topic. I was detained at Mega FM where they threatened to take me to Police. I was forced to destroy my memory card to get rid of the pictures I had captured during the field trip.
They wanted to confiscate my phone because they claimed I had taken homosexual pictures at their premises. This happened at our first stop but it did not bring down our energy we proceeded to hand out magazines at Gulu University, a legal firm, the UN High Commission and the Refuge Law Project.