In what’s being celebrated as a monumental moment of visibility for Uganda’s beleaguered LGBT community, one of the nation’s leading LGBT activists graces this week’s cover of Time magazine’s Europe edition.
Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera, an out lesbian and co-founder and editor of Uganda’s first LGBT publication, Bombastic, tells The Advocate she hopes the cover will not only bring awareness to the plight of LGBT Ugandans, but help people around the world realize that LGBT people are their friends, neighbors, and family members.
“It’s a great honor for me to be on the cover because it brings attention to the global LGBT struggle,” Nabagesera tells The Advocate. “Now many people will know about the struggles LGBT people go through in Africa and the world over. They will realize that the people they hate most are actually the people they love most when they get to read the article. They could be hating on their beloved family and friend without knowing they are LGBT.”
Nabagesera, who is also the executive director of advocacy organization Freedom and Roam Uganda, boldly poses on Time’s cover, her fist raised alongside the cover line “Out in Africa.”
“More than ever, the world shouldn’t neglect the human rights of LGBT people,because we are here to stay — and part and parcel of the development of this world,” Nabagesera adds, speaking to The Advocate via Facebook. “All we need is respect, and protection from violence, and our basic inalienable human rights. Speaking out and bringing attention to the plight of LGBT people is life. I will not be silenced by anyone.”
That drumbeat is one Nabagesera has long been beating: Beginning in 2013, Nabagesera was one of a dozen LGBTI Ugandans who worked with The Advocate to compile a photo essay that shared firsthand stories from these diverse individuals. Although the article received several awards — including a 2014 GLAAD Award for Oustanding Digital Journalism, Multimedia — editors with this publication took the story offline after Ugandan tabloid Red Pepper plagiarized the story wholesale, splashing a headline on the front page reading "Uganda's Top Gays Speak: How We Became Homos."
With Nabagesera's permission, The Advocate has republished her portion of that award-winning project. Hear from the fearless activist in her own words what it was like growing up gay in Uganda here.