We Are Here: LGBTI in Uganda
BY Sunnivie Brydum
January 02 2013 5:00 AM ET
Photos by D. David Robinson © 2013, for use by The Advocate with this article only. All rights reserved. Subjects have approved use of images contained herein.
Richard Lusimbo, 26-year-old gay man, lead researcher for SMUG
The first time I understood my sexual orientation was when I attended a meeting with other school leaders as head prefect of my high school. That was the first time things really opened up for me — everything was vivid. I suddenly understood and accepted my sexual orientation. Then at university, I went back into denial, living quietly and dating women. That didn’t work.
In 2011 I began to volunteer for SMUG, which led to my current full-time position as their lead researcher. I’ve traveled with SMUG around Uganda, gathering stories from those who have had to hide — people who have been chased from their workplaces and homes, just for being who they are. Through this I have found my path and passion. I am dedicated to this work.
But earlier this year, when cameras caught me leaving a courtroom during the high-profile Ugandan LGBTI HRDs v. Reverend Fr. Lokodo case, it was like a bomb went off in my life. Friends and family watching TV immediately began to text and phone me. Some wanted to know if I was OK; others hurled hateful remarks. I’ve always played it safe, stayed quiet. And yet suddenly, and in a big way — I am out.
There’s a lot of ignorance and negativity in Uganda about homosexuality. In this country, dialogue is the best way to go, but government officials won’t allow the conversation to develop.
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