Outside of Cape Town there’s pretty much nowhere in Africa that happily embraces homosexuality. So trekking forces intrepid queer travellers to gauge how much they show, do and get away with in every social situation.
On your own it’s pretty simple. The average Ugandan male is surprisingly effeminate so the amount of gayness you exude is easily adjustable to the surroundings. But when uniting with other queers on the road, the level of gay you project goes up exponentially. Or better put: one gay man can hide in the closet, two gay men require a walk-in, three gay men just can’t help themselves — they’ll need spotlights in the end.
Alone, I casually check out any passing fancy behind dark lenses large enough to conceal which way my eyes are excitedly patrolling. But with the addition of friends subtlety is torn to shreds and we count our blessings for not getting arrested.
There is so much to see in Kampala, Uganda’s San Fran-styled capital. Everyone is posh, no matter what class of life they hail from. Men are always in slacks, button downs and sophistication. Folks in full Prada step out of slum-huts and mechanics in suits bend over steaming engines.
The men are incredibly friendly. Smiles invite you into their world where they will go to any length to help you, whatever your crisis.
Matthew’s been a local for almost two years. He’s quick to spin us past a popular Mexican restaurant so we can confirm suspicions about the bookish-yet-sultry manager. An Irish stud who blushes at the childish encore of men oh-so-obviously checking him out, bashfully giving us a little spin and bestowing beers, all before his staff who’ve never seen him smile and cower from it.
A table of locals stares quizzically but Justin, fresh from yoga-enlightenment-training smiles with a nod, “we were complimenting him on his posture —very exacting.”
They laugh, we laugh and no one notices lingering gazes on the Tyresse look-alike who can’t help staring back.
The Americans, bless ’em, have derived the ultimate cruising grounds at the A(merican)-R(ecreational)-A(ssociation), a paradise straight out of an Aaron Spelling drama — gym, pool, patio, wi-fi, tennis courts, bamboo bar with cable TV, billiards, the works.
Justin and I turn a full set of heads from live-broadcast-Cricket finals, shooing Matt off to do his exercises, already eagerly speculating on the scenery.
The best way to absorb Kampala is on the back of a boda-boda. Motorcycle escorts, who when good are stylish and charming fonts of knowledge, spin you through the tightest corners of city life.
We drive straight through packed crowds of market-goers and random idlers, Justin intoning, “oooh, chocolate” with theatrical gesture towards anything worth sharing. One can only wonder what our drivers make of us, gesticulating indiscriminately.
The inability to openly hit on any specimens without fear of social collapse makes the mere act of viewing overwhelming in its intensity.
We end our racing cruise through the city before a rare example of disheveled demeanor, rugged looks contrasting so sharply with the all-posh presentation of the city we’re all left speechless, the heat tangible. Our drivers ask where to next. “Oh no,” we sigh with delight. “We’re good.”