Nico Stoerner, Staff Writer
Sound familiar? It should.
In 1775 at the Virginia Convention Sir Patrick Henry spoke about the abuses of Great Britain treating the colonies as subordinates and referenced all that his fellow Americans had done in an attempt to maintain peace. It was during that speech that he famously proclaimed “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”
In spite of a 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill (introduced by Parliament Member David Bahati and also known as the “Kill-the-Gays” Bill), Ugandans celebrated their first Gay Pride Parade and Festival in Entebbe beach near Lake Victoria on August 4th. It consisted of a party, beach parade, and film festival.
Even with pressure from government officials such as Integrity Minister Simon Lokodo (who has shut down all workshops, non-profits, and community groups allied with LGBT activists), organizers insisted on holding the event. The area was a relatively secluded part of their local botanical grounds and a typical destination for families an couples. Yellow wristbands identified participants who partied while a DJ played music. Although nearly 250 tickets had been sold only about 100 people attended; presumably for fear of danger. Ugandan Activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera addressed the gays, lesbians, and transgendered attendees stating “Can you imagine that the worst place in the world to be gay is having Gay Pride?” Accompanying her was Jamaican LGBT activist Maurice Tomlinson who was the Grand Marshal of the parade. Honking horns, music, and cheering accompanied the marchers as they paraded through the area while holding signs stating things like “African & Gay. Not a Choice.” Local adults and children alike flocked to the event both stunned and entertained by this defiant display of pride and celebration while marchers chanted “We Are Here!”
Nabagasera even dressed her German shepherd for the occasion as he accompanied her on the march in a rainbow handkerchief.Unfortunately some time after the parade ended police raided the gathering (purportedly because of reports that a gay marriage was being held), and arrested 3 participants while detaining a photographer and demanding statements from others. Eventually the police chief released them, however, and the closing events the following Sunday went as planned.
We could stand to learn from the struggle our comrades in Africa are facing while reflecting on our own this Pride season. Even when we rid our nation, or even the world of bigotry we must remember our history; those brave souls who came before us and sacrificed to make our future so much brighter than their own.
…and to those Ugandans who have so courageously led the charge for equality in their nation I say this…
“Congratulations: you’ve just made history.”
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