This past week, Uganda President Yoweri Museveni was bumped out of two hotels in America because of his rigid stand on the issue of gays and lesbians. He had to find accommodation elsewhere as homosexuals and their supporters prepared to picket his hotel in protest reported acts of violence and death that have visited the gay community in his country.
Museveni and others, like Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, have not hidden their aversion to gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender ( GLBT) people. Museveni says they are “disgusting” while Mugabe says they are “worse than pigs, goats and birds.” Both have threatened to pass legislation that would send them to the gallows for going against “natural order’.
As I was marvelling at Museveni’s apparent dislodgment in Dallas, I remembered clips of a film I had seen a few days earlier called Stories of Our Lives. This is the first film to be produced by members of the gay community in Kenya and depicts scenes which – a few years ago – would have been considered abominable. It features real gay and lesbian characters – school-aged and working class – who express love for their partners in the same affectionate way as heterosexuals.
Initially the film, which its producers describe as “a story of love,” was named “Anonymous,” and both the producers and the actors had enshrouded themselves. But things had to change when the documentary was accepted for screening at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Three of its producers, Jim Chuchu, Njoki Ngumi and George Gachara, were compelled to come out of the closet and face the media ahead of the film preview.
Appearing uneasy at the questions, the three well-spoken artists expressed fears of a backlash back home and said they were “preparing for not so good an outcome.” Their fears are understandable. Kenyans, unlike people in many developed countries, are not ready to embrace an alternative culture, especially when it goes against their entrenched traditions.
But I have said it here before that homosexuals are our fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers. They do not hail from Mars. They grew with us in slums and towns, went to the same schools as we did, and every Friday or Sunday we go together to the Mosque and the Church to worship the same God. How come we feel they are undeserving of our love? How come we want to punish them by passing discriminatory laws specifically targeting them? How come…?
Kenyans must accept that this form of sexual orientation is flourishing and spreading rapidly especially among the younger generation. It is fueled by changing societal norms and foreign forces which are pouring millions of dollars to sustain the movement and culture. The fire it has lit is impossible to extinguish. In other words, homosexuality has become an immutable reality.
I have nothing in common with homosexuals, but my feeling is that Instead of ostracizing them, we should harvest their talents and skills and allow them to flourish in a free society like everyone else. I say this because even the so-called African culture is dynamic, not static.
And that is my say.