Luswata Brant is the Clinic and Resource Center Manager at Ice Breakers Uganda, an organisation that advocates for health/human rights for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) people in Uganda. He is also a father and in this article, shares why he is passionate about his work.
After completing his primary seven, Brant realised that one of his half-brothers was suffering from HIV/AIDS. A young boy still under the care of his mum, Luswata didn’t know a lot about the scourge although he escorted his dear brother to a nearby clinic daily. As the days went by, he noticed a considerable deterioration in his brother’s weight.
Luswata also recognized that his brother was being isolated by their other family members for example he had special cutlery which could not be used by anyone else. This triggered many questions for the young Luswata as he wondered why someone would be subjected to such treatment by people who were meant to be his support system.
When his brother eventually passed, Luswata set out to find out what AIDS really meant and along this journey decided he would chip in his two cents to better the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS a well as help curb the killer virus.
After completing his Senior Six in 2009, he went to Ice Breakers, where he had been directed by a friend. He started volunteering with the same organization and gradually learnt about activism. Though he didn’t know how to reach out to other youths in the community, the passion to fight HIV/AIDS made him realize he could use this platform to impart change.
In 2012, Ice Breakers Uganda opened up the first ever LGBTI clinic in the country where the health needs of LGBTI persons in Uganda were being catered to. Because of the hard work and passion this young man had exhibited, Luswata was chosen to run the clinic, a position that he has held up to this day.
Through a project funded by UHAI-EASHRI in partnership with MARPI, IBU, Spectrum and MARPS Network, Luswata and other community members were trained as peer leaders which helped to bridge the gap between the LGBTI community and the health sector.
He says this move has yielded great fruits for the Ugandan gender and sexual minority movement since the peer leaers have reached out to many LGBTI youth and also widened the referral base. Luswaata also acknowledges that the major problem with HIV positive people in the community is the double stigma – “being an LGBTI person and also being HIV positive in a country like Uganda is really hard, you face discrimination from all corners of your life,” Brant told Kuchu Times.
On being asked about his sexuality, Luswata explains that having attended mixed schools and due to fear of losing friends, he suppressed his feelings towards his male counterparts in the hope that they would eventually go away. He even recalls praying vehemently for God to take away these feelings.
Though he is passionate about his activism life, Luswata has not come out openly to his mum and other family members. His sexuality has also not robbed him of the desire to be a perfect father. He says his son is one of the biggest motivations in his life.
Luswata also told Kuchu Times that he is a devoted c and fellowships at one of the Pentecostal churches in Kampala and says that he has used this opportunity to change people’s perceptions about LGBTI people. H even advises other LGBTI identifying people give up on their relationship with God because sometimes that is all that is left- one’s faith.
He however says that being a frequent church goer has not spared him the discrimination. He has had to deal with being shunned by his church family but this has not deterred his faith in God.
He confesses that he finds his strength in putting a smile on a needy person’s face or when he acknowledges that he has saved someone’s life and has achieved all these through his private communication with God. Luswata who says he has met the love of his life, but it is all still a learning process. His partner is loving and calm and has helped Luswata grow both emotionally and spiritually.
In the next ten years, Luswata sees himself as the face of the LGBTI persons in relation to HIV/AIDS advocacy and more so foresees Ice Breakers Uganda as a one stop hospital for the Ugandan LGBTI community. He also hopes to have opened up a business.