I’ve always wanted to meet and interview the LGBTQ people who were arrested during the COVID-19 lockdown and imprisoned after being charged with disobeying a presidential order.
When the opportunity came I was terrified, I was scared of the reactions I would get while they were answering what I would consider “intrusive” questions. A day before the interview, I locked up my house shut all the curtains and spent the day sleeping, preparing my mind.
The shock was on me, today at 2:00PM I met the most vibrant human beings who told their stories with such gusto. They shared in detail what they went through before the arrest, during the arrest and up to when they got to Kitalya prison. Some even told me they made “friends” in jail.
I was charmed by a one Ashraf Rema, before the interview we shared a cigarette as an icebreaker. I asked them “So my dear, how do we address you in this article? Are you a transgender woman or a gay man?” This was not meant to offend them in any way but just for clarity and respect. They coyly smiled and said, “It depends on the situation.” At this point I laughed out so loud, they joined in and we were all got into a fit of laughter. Back to the interview, Ashraf Rema told me they were burned by a police officer while in prison.
Another person who stole my heart was Oketch Joel Edwards, he says although he had a falling out with his parents he is still grateful that they taught him to always work hard, be obedient and respectful to others. When asked if there was room for reconciliation with his parents if we could get him a negotiator, his eyes became white. “That just can’t happen, my parents are tough. My dad is Japadhola and my mom is a Mukiga so you can just see that combination there.
Despite all they endured in jail, home banishment, starvation because often their shelter runs out of food among other difficulties these rainbows continue to blossom. Stories of resilience like this inspired us to name the next edition of Bombastic Magazine “Najja Nga Oluddo” A Tale Of How LGBTIQ Ugandans Beat COVID-19. Coming soon to a screen or magazine stand near you.