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.
C.B., 25-year-old lesbian, co-coordinator for the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law
My biggest fear has always been the kind of impact my sexual orientation would have on my family, especially my mum. My mum is special — she gave birth to seven boys, all the time telling my father she was on birth control, because she wanted a daughter. Then, 20 years later, I turned out to be gay. Although I am still the same girl she always wanted, in her eyes, I will be a perfect daughter only when I bring a husband home.
Countless times I’ve been cautioned by my family not to spoil or shame the family name. And I cannot count how many times I have been told that being gay is the worst curse one can bring to a family. Every day it breaks my heart to know that I can never change who I am to be able to live in the country I love and cherish in peace.
I may never be able to take my girlfriend home for a family dinner or report a hate crime and see that the police care enough to follow up on punishing the culprits. I may not live to see a Uganda where leaders speak out openly against violence and discrimination against LGBTI people. But I am optimistic. Each day I wake up and pray that God keeps me alive in order to continue this struggle. I am optimistic because discrimination and inequality are wrong, and I believe in living in a just society.
I am afraid — for my future, for my partner’s future, for the future of my country; I’m afraid that my relationship with my family could end in a single moment of revealed truth. I am afraid of many things. But I cannot be silent. One doesn’t know when people will begin to listen. I will speak out for those who cannot, and I will never stop. I do not know if this work is worth the sacrifices I have made or will make, but I know that no one can speak on my behalf as adequately as I can.
This — and the fact that no situation is permanent — is what keeps me going.
In August, C.B. and a few of her colleagues were presented the U.S. Department of State 2011 Human Rights Defenders Award by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala.
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