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The Harsh Reality of Many Gay Teens in Uganda

teenCompiled by George Barasa

My name is  Ainomugisha Ronald a.k.a Ronnie  Mugisha, I was born male on 9th October 1992 in a family  of 11; I spent the better part of my childhood in Mbarara district in the western part of Uganda.

I have had not so easy a life because as I grew up, I realized I was different from my male friends. I preferred ‘girly’ things such as dolls to the extent that I used to put on dresses till I was 13. I stopped that after I was beaten by my uncle who said that as a man, I had no business wearing dresses; he also threatened to cut off my penis if he ever caught me in a dress again.

I have also been attracted to boys for as long as I can remember and initially, I could not understand why. I attended a boarding school for primary and I vividly remember the thrill and joy of staring at other boys’ privates.

However, I did not pursue these feelings until 2006 when I joined secondary school. It was now clear that I was not only physically but sexually attracted to the same sex. In 2007, I was approached by a senior five student who expressed his interest in me. I was excited at the prospect of fully exploring my sexuality but I was also scared because I knew there was a possibility he was luring me into a trap.

One day, we had a chance to talk and one thing led to another. I used to visit him during holidays and it was during one of those visits that i lost my virginity. He was my first love and it was through him that I met other LGBTI persons in Mbarara. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone and knew there were more people who were going through what I was.

My late mother, a nurse by profession once asked me whether I have feelings for girls. I was open and told her that I was attracted to boys. She was clearly shocked by the revelation but was supportive and only requested me to keep my sexual life a secret as the society shame would ruin her.

In 2009, I started dating a teacher at my school; he gifted me with a phone to ease our communication. One day, a friend borrowed the phone and it ended up being confiscated. On there was porn and the exchanges with my lover, it was evidence enough to have me suspended. It was now public knowledge that I was gay and that was my first up close brush with homophobia. Thankfully I completed school soon after and did video editing and production, script writing, music, dance and drama.

In October 2014, I finally got a chance to meet a man I had met online. He was an engineer and came to Mbarara on contract; we agreed to use this time to get to know each other. Our rendezvous place  was his hotel but unknown to me, the receptionist was a friend to my step mother and dad.

One evening as my lover and I left the hotel, we found my dad waiting at the reception. A family meeting was held where I was beaten; the whole community now knew my deeply guarded secret. I was chased away from home and my dad cursed me; he even told me never to come near his dead body as I was a disgrace.

I dropped out of school and became suicidal. I sold my laptop and decided to relocate to Kampala where a friend gave me a Kenyan connect. On arrival in Nairobi, the person that offered to give me shelter made it clear he had no room for me unless I was willing to sleep with him.  One thing led to another and I ended up at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees where I was registered as asylum seeker. Life in Nairobi hasn’t been any better and many times, I find myself crying about the fate of so many of us who are in such situations.

I hope to become an important person in future, owning assets and having a free and open wedding with my boyfriend. One of my biggest dreams is to help LGBTI teenagers who are abandoned by their families and face rape, torture and discrimination on a daily basis.