Black Looks - Including an African LGBTIQ+ Archive

Queer Politics

Framing Ugandan homophobia in a global context

Attacks on gay, lesbian and transgender people have started to happen in Uganda following the outing of 100 LGBT people on October 4th in the Ugandan Rolling Stone. At the time a friend of mine sent me scans of the photos [which I refused to publish and I think we should begin to be a bit more selective on how we give space to homophobic media] and I noticed the photos of him and a few others were taken from their latest Facebook profiles. There is a tendency to take Facebook as a safe personal space. It is not, and we all need to realise that Facebook is a security risk in many different ways and act accordingly.

I cant help but think there is a connection between the latest outings in Uganda and the number of homophobic statements, bullying and murders of LGBTI people here in the US as well as the growing homonationalism in the West as a whole. It’s easy to simply lay the blame on the Christian Evangelical right like The Family and The Call. But it’s much deeper and more widespread than that. In the US and Europe, it is becoming more and more OK to be openly homophobic just as it is becoming more and more OK to be openly racist particularly if these are framed in an anti-immigration / anti-Islamic language in which white mainstream LGBT media and groups are themselves complicit. A candidate for governor of New York can stand up and declare he does not think homosexuality is a valid option and in the next breath say he is not homophobic, not “anti-gay”. A radio host can repeatedly use the N-word and claim she is not racist. Social media like Twitter and Facebook are full of homophobic threads and pages. Only last Sunday there was a vicious homophobic thread in parts of the Nigerian Twittersphere following photos of local celebrity, Charly Boy and his alleged lover. This reminded me of the jokes which preceded the broadcasting of the video of Tyler Clementi also on Twitter and which may have led to his suicide a few days later.

So let’s stop making Africa and homophobia a media “spectacle” and start to try to understand what is happening globally and how the various homophobias, racisms and normative attitudes and actions work to support each other and in some ways actually become obstacles to change.

Below is a report on Uganda from the Irish Times

AT LEAST four gay Ugandans have been attacked and many more are in hiding following the publication of an article in the country’s Rolling Stone newspaper, which called for “the hanging of homos”.

The article, titled “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak”, claimed the country’s gay community was trying to “recruit” one million children and that a deadly disease causing “shattered flesh” was spreading through it.

It was accompanied by names, photos and the contact details of gay people in the country. Rolling Stone, which only began publishing six weeks ago, is not affiliated with the American title of the same name.

Brian Nkoyooyo, director of Ice Breakers Uganda, says that one gay rights activist had stones thrown at her house while other people have been attacked in bars and in their own houses. Continued here

3 Comments

  1. Anengiyefa

    Sokari, I totally agree that we should be selective as to how much coverage we give to homophobia. I for one will deliberately shun homophobia, handing to homophobes the opprobrium and ignominy that they deserve by ignoring them completely.

    I choose instead to focus on demonstrating through what I put out, that being gay is just as normal as being straight and that the gay person is every bit as interested in the world that we live in and that he/she participates in it just as everyone else does.

  2. Sokari

    Thanks @Anengiyefa – I am not adverse to reporting events but I think we need to do so intelligently and provide appropriate context. I have sometimes been guilty myself usually directed through my anger at what is happening. I think your approach is also a very important one – we are all more than our sexual preference or gender identity – sometimes one would think we were one dimensional one tract people with no other issues to deal with on a daily basis.

  3. Mia

    Awful, isn’t it? This could well be a sort of sexuality and gender identity Mein Kamph rag in the making; African style? I so hope not. Looked at in this way, it could be said that we are finally discovering one of the pugnacious inheritances left for African by colonialism, raging and compulsory heterosexuality and an repressed sexual and gender sensibility that insists on a rigid mindset. Not understanding a people’s identity is no reason to dehumanise or exclude them from participating in social, cultural or political space no matter where or what their difference is… Transphobia is just as horrid but the powers that be, be they homosexual, heterosexual or otherwise are just as culpable in excluding the plight of gender identity. One way this can reveal itself is when anything LGBTIQ is mentioned and LGB is the focus at the expense of the TIQ…in other words exclusion is allowed to prevail. Post colonialism doesn’t mean the nightmare is over. Rather it is a repackaging of old world orders as new. It offers a spell of seemingly home grown responses to sexuality and/or gender while in fact its motive is the encouragement of gender fundamentalism and ensuing complicities willingly…