By Ambrose Barigye
Sandra Ntebi needs no introduction to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community in Uganda. She is one of the people who started the movement; after addressing a conference on LGBTI issues and unknowingly having her face all over different television stations, there was no turning back and she has since gone on to become the Head of the Security Community within Uganda’s LGBTI community.
Kuchu Times caught up with the vibrant, fearless and determined activist as she reminisced about the good old days of the movement and rebuked the community for going astray and letting money get in the way of the struggle.
KT: What is the biggest challenge you have faced while serving as the head of the security committee?
SN: I’d say the biggest challenge for me has been the issue of unemployment for the people in the community. However, there is no one to blame but ourselves. You walk up to a young gay person and inquire why they are not working and they say, “I am gay.”
One wonders when one’s sexuality turned into a profession. Most of these young people have been misled to believe that there is a lot of money in the community. They need to have a reality check and realize that being gay is no reason to throw our lives away. If anything, we should all work hard and prove people wrong. It is saddening that we continuously conform to the stereotypes people make us out to be.
KT: What would you say has been the greatest obstacle for the movement as a whole?
SN: When I look back at where we started, I realize we have gone off track. Initially we were a couple of youths who hang out together because it was nice to be with people who were like us. We had parties and organized developmental meetings but right now, it has become all about money.
How I wish the movement would go back to those days where we were each other’s keepers. I understand that the organizations and different activities are necessary if we are to resiliently fight for our rights but I wish we would employ people outside the community. That way, we would have very little if no division.
In my opinion, until we come up with a permanent solution to these money and division issues, we are working against ourselves and now isn’t the time for that. We still have a long way to go and the only way we can go the entire journey is if we stick together
KT: What has been the movement’s greatest achievement in your opinion?
SN: The biggest achievement has been the growth of the movement. While we might have a few issues here and there, it is undeniable that we have come a long way as well as overcome a number of nearly impossible hurdles.
We have grown in numbers, maturity and resilience. I take pride in knowing that so many young people can now openly be who they are because of the struggle we started.
KT: If you could change one thing about the movement today what would it be?
SN: Again, I would go back to the days where we were one family, undivided and looking out for one another. That is something I miss very much.
KT: What is your advice to the LGBTI community as Pride 2015 approaches?
SN: People need to understand that Pride comes with its consequences. If you are not ready to come out openly, I would advise that you stay home and let those who can, represent and match for you. We do not want your picture appearing in the papers and raking havoc for you.
The organising committee should ensure that the people who want to attend Pride fully understand the aftermaths of taking part in the event.
KT: How would you like to be remembered?
SN: I would like to be remembered as a humble person who fought tirelessly for what I believed in and tried to make Uganda and the world a better place for sexual minorities. I understand that all is not well yet, but we have moved a long way and changed the perception of people towards this community.