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Ugandan queers celebrate first Pride

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – Despite pervasive homophobia, anti-gay legislation — with more conceivably pending —  and the requisite police raid, there was Pride in Uganda — a whole weekend of it, in the form of parties, a drag show, a beach parade and a film festival.

Writing for The New Yorker, Alexis Okeowo notes lesbian activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera's "half-sarcastic" rhetorical question to the crowd gathered Aug 4 on the shores of Lake Victoria in the city of Entebbe: "Can you imagine the worst place in the world to be gay is having Gay Pride?" 

Okeowo says queer Ugandans are tired of media coverage that stresses threats and attacks when their experience — both joyful and challenging — is more nuanced than that narrative portrays.

Still, activist Frank Mugisha, decked out in a sailor's costume with a rainbow sash, told Okeowo he was shocked to see that almost 100 people had turned out — to sing, swim and dance to DJ music. Mugisha said he wished he had a switch to turn on that would make everyone who is gay say they are gay. 

During the parade, Okeowo notes, people held up signs that read, "African and Gay. Not a Choice." 

"Children who lived nearby flocked to the parade, and adults stared, clearly stunned, and, in some cases, amused," Okeowo writes.  

As perhaps anticipated, the police made an appearance. There were arrests, a photographer was detained, statements were demanded and warnings issued about the threats gays faced, Okeowo observes. Those detained were released . . . and celebrations continued in Kampala. 

For Alexis Okeowo's full account, check out The New Yorker piece "Gay and Proud in Uganda."

More coverage at Gay Star News.



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