SK joined the movement at a very tender age and says, at the time, it was characterised by fun, hospitable people who quickly became second family to him. He was raised in a very religious family and his parents worked for a Church institutions. However, as he grew older, he could no longer push aside his attraction towards boys.
“However much I tried to appreciate a girl’s beauty, there were no sparks but my feelings went crazy when I looked at a well-built handsome young man,” SK said.
SK’s ballet dancing experience helped him to adopt and mingle easily within the movement since people found his love for dance fascinating.
He quickly juxtaposes what the movement used to be to what its is today ; life these days is very easy when it comes to communication because of new inventions like social media, smart phones and other technological advancements that have made the world a very small province. SK explains that this has cost the movement a lot as people do not create firm foundations- which is what Uganda’s LGBT movement was built on.
What do you think has caused such a shift in the movement?
Media has played such a huge role in the shifting trends within the movement; granted, homophobia was a big part of our lives especially from outside forces but media did a whole lot to hyerbolise the already bad situation. But one thing I have personally noted is that however much the media has exposed LGBTI community persons to serious threats, it has also helped to break the ice and now homosexuality is something that can openly be debated about unlike before when it was taboo.,
What do you think caused most of your peers to go back into the closet?
At the time, there was very little exposure to the ‘outside world’, the LGBT community was very closely knit.
The people who were in the movement at the time are still a part of the community though passively; most have tight schedules and demanding responsibilities and have very little time to socialize. That’s why many people think some of these ‘veterans’ have gone back to the closet..However, some people have left the country, some passed on- the numbers have generally gone down also affecting the vibrancy we once had.
Unknown to many, we still meet in small groups and find no need to publicise our gatherings on social media- in the end, these circles are our support systems and we can not do a way with them .
Speaking of leaving, what is your take on activists leaving a movement they helped found and opting for asylum?’
Sometimes looking at these new and young people in the movement helps us realise that the movement is growing and not static, so to my joy, I see that there is new blood coming in trying to take on the mantle that the old blood is handing over.
But it is also sad to look round and you don’t see those faces that you were share so many meories with;but in the end, everyone must do what is right by them and if asylum is the best way to keep safe, then it is a decision we painfully must accept and wish our comrades well.
What achievements would you say the Ugandan LGBTI movement has registered over the years?
Back in the day, it was hard to go to police and report a case as an LGBTI person or bail out a fellow LGBTI individual but now things have changes; while it is still not the easiest thing to do, it is also not as difficult as it used to be. I credit all the activists that have done these awareness and sensitization campaigns on different levels, that have seen a shift in attitudes especially with service providers and law enforcement officers.
There are also a number of mainstream human rights organisations that have joined forces with LGBT organisations to push for the recognition, decriminalisation and equal treatment to all LGBT identifying persons.