Thursday, May 16, 2013


Hi. As you all know I am a Ugandan male who identifies as not only gay, but as creative, free spirited, industrious, artistic, contradictory, open minded among many other things. I come from a middle class Ugandan family and we all live in Kampala...It has been two weeks and three days now since i revealed to my family that I’m gay. I did it through email. What brought me to that point was largely a feeling of depression that had built up in the days prior. I guess i was just tired of living with the fear of them finding out at some point. I always wondered what would happen when i finally reached the age of 30 and they start asking me when I’m getting married and giving them grandchildren. All this anticipation and anxiety was with me for a long time until i finally reached my breaking point; which was about 2 weeks ago.

The email narrated my entire life, from when I was a child and i noticed that i was different, to high school when i became ‘born again’, to when i left the church, to when i started this blog, to the present, and finally to my plans for the future. The email was 8 pages long and in it i described very clearly my thoughts on gay life in the past and what my philosophy on life has become now. To make it easy on them i assured them that i do not plan on marrying anyone whether a woman for the sake of pretense, or a man either because i do not see how that would work in uganda. But really, i know in my heart that if the right guy does come along, i will run off and marry him without hesitation. Although I have to understand that the probability of this happening is really low...very few people, gay or straight ever really find the right person. 

In the email i also revealed the friends that i had come out to since high school. This i did to make them aware of the fact that i have an immediate circle that loves me for who i am. I mentioned that the rejection of society actually now is less and less terrifying to me...why do i need a corrupt society to accept me anyway. I will only show you the opening of the letter; which goes like this...

Dear Mom and Dad,
I have been writing this since I was at the airport in February waiting for the plane. There is no easy way to say this so I am just going to go ahead and tell you that I am Gay. A homosexual. Always have been and always will be. Because people are born that way.Those words are still difficult for me to say, despite the fact that i have been aware of this attraction since i was very young. I must admit that what drove me to finally tell u this was the way u reacted to that news on BBC about gay marriage being legalized in england and saying that u will run us out of the house if we ever ended up bringing a man home. I was so astounded and deeply disturbed by your views on a subject that you do not know much about or have not cared to research about. I had heard stories abt pples parents saying the same thing to their children but I always assumed those kinds of things only happen to other people. I had assumed u were always neutral on the subject and so i decided that there was no need to tell you because i do not plan on getting married to a man anyway; or to anyone for that matter. Before i just thought that since u had never commented on the subject, then i had no need to say was unimportant. But now that i heard your views at the end of the holiday; everyday, the need to make it known to u that i am that thing that u despise so much, has been weighing down on me. And i am and have always been that thing; a man attracted to men. I decided i need to tell you this because of my own sanity...the past months have been really tough because since hearing your views in february, this situation has been taking up most of my mental and emotional energy. And it takes alot of energy, believe me.

The letter goes on for miles explaining my life and everything. There i was in my little apartment in the city, typing the email furiously with tears in my eyes. It was a heavily emotional process, and as a result the letter was heavily emotional. A recurring implication in my email was the fact that gay people do not choose to be so; something i intended to put across constantly. 

The day after I sent the email, i woke up in disbelief. I had finally sent the email. I had finally done it. It was 9am and my dad had already opened his mailbox, and he had probably already called my mum and told her to check her email as well. They had already been hit with the shock that would naturally result from reading the first three lines of my letter...a shock that would stay with them for a long time and give them sleepless nights. Millions of thoughts were going through my head through the day, as i carried on. It was like i was on auto pilot. I had to go to the bank that day so on my way there, my phone started to ring; it was my brother!!! He had read the email; and he was the first to contact me; just as i had predicted. I know my family well. I couldn’t pick up. I was too nervous. So i left it. He then decided to bombard my phone with ‘whatsapp’ messages that showed that he was upset that i could open up to my friends and not him. He made a few harmless jokes here and there about the situation. He kept harassing me through the day to reply and when i finally did, he reacted with indifference to my sexuality. Which is a reaction that I think is the best. He accepted me in quite a short time. He also sent an email which he copied to my parents, saying how much he still accepts me as his younger brother and how unashamed he is of me. I was really emotional when i read this. My brother had not abandoned me.

At 7pm that day, i got an emotional email from my dad, saying how he still loves me; and that it will take time for him to come to terms with it. In part of it, he said, “I do not pray often, but on this situation i will. The almighty creator will see us through this. He has seen us through greater difficulties. I love you my son. You will hear from me when i compose myself.” It was really emotional for me reading that email as well. A part of me, the emotional me was ecstatic, but my head knew that denial would come later from them. I decided to enjoy the moment. 

Last one to respond was my mum, as predicted. In the email she said she loved me very much and would continue to love me regardless of what i was. She admitted her shock at initially reading my email, and also said that she was still in shock. She mentioned that she can’t understand why people are gay and that maybe it takes one being gay themselves to understand why. She said, we would talk about it more when they come to terms with it.

In the two days that followed those emails, i had never really felt so loved in my life. It was so surreal. I felt that i did not deserve it and that something bad was still waiting to happen. Like i had feared, something was indeed waiting to happen, but it wasn’t entirely bad or good as you will see later.

Four days passed by, and these days were mostly characterized by silence on my parent’s part. My brother however kept checking to see how i was feeling about my parent’s responses. He seemed to have finally come to terms with it. He also revealed that my parents had called him, my dad to be precise; and had asked him if he had accepted it. My dad from what i hear was in shock that my brother had accepted so quickly and easily. He also told my brother that he was taking it the hardest and that my mum was stronger than he was. I remember feeling like they were mourning, and that was not what i wanted. I wanted them to be indifferent; like my brother. Indifference to their sexuality is the ultimate goal that all gays inherently want from society and family. It did not help either that in his email days back, my dad had likened this situation to when my mother was diagnosed with heart disease. I chose to believe he meant it was just as hard to accept. They were apparently praying to God to ask for guidance. My parents had never prayed much in life up till this point.

On the fifth day, they finally sent me a longer more detailed email in which they stated that they hope my coming out has freed my energy to concentrate on school work as well as ‘manage the situation better.’  ‘The situation’ being my sexuality. They said they still want to be a part of my life and they had come to realise that my ‘situation’ is an orientation, not a preference. My dad revealed that after he read the email, he had called my brother in tears. He explained that i was under no obligation to explain my orientation to anybody and that they would rather i keep it to myself. At this point in the email i started to get a bit worried. I also agree that i do not need to shout it from the roof tops, but were they asking that i take a don’t ask, don’t tell approach to life? 

They further said that, as long as I keep it to the attraction and not “The Act” which has many health ramifications, they shall breathe a bit easier as they try to ‘sort this out.’ Sorth this out? Is there anything to sort? At this point in the email i became a bit uncomfortable. As you know, i have previously on this blog written about my dislike for conventional gay sex. But still, i thought, my parents have no business wondering about what goes on or doesn’t go on in my bedroom in the future, when i move out of their house. 

Moving on, they said that they believe God created me the way I am... I was glad to see that they believed this; it is the next line that worried me. “...and it will be only God who can change it.” They said that it was only god who has allowed them to sleep over this matter. They encouraged me to go back and redeem my faith in God and told me that they had also now finally found their faith. They said that they were planning to fast for god’s mercy, on them and their son, and that with prayer from the whole family, ‘this situation will be reversed.’ 

All i could see were red flags! Once again, my mind was in crisis. It was great that they were becoming more spiritual, but i worried that they were dragging me back into fundamental christianity to keep me keep my situation contained. I struggled as much as possible to understand their position, which was very ambiguous. Had they accepted me, had they not? And that last statement; “with prayer this situation will be reversed”, were they looking into reparative therapies? Once again, i was in a state of worry. I followed my friends advice. They said that this whole thing was probably just a coping mechanism for them, and that they would finally come to terms with it. That just in the same way that I had a christian phase, subconsciously hoping i could be cured, they were also going through the same phase and it would blow over with time. I decided to ignore the email and go on with life. But i couldn’t help but feel a sense of impending doom. Or maybe i was overreacting? I thought, “Many gay people, not only in Africa, but also in the United States or Europe are kicked out of their homes because of their homosexuality. Should i be grateful and just take what i’m being given?” I was so conflicted. 

My dad called for the first time the next day, asking how i was and how everything was going. At the end of it he asked that i check my email. When i got home i checked and there was a message from him; saying to read the attachment in the email; parts of which i might or might not agree with. He got it somewhere on the internet. I opened the attachment and the title hit me like a brick in the head; “Healing Homosexuality: A Cure?” The opening went like this;

The current debate on homosexuality in our society, particularly within the Church, is a painful one. Two positions on homosexuality are tearing apart many church denominations and Christians. These two positions are basically irreconcilable:
        1. Homosexuality is condemned by the Bible. God’s Word to the homosexual is, “Repent, and get         your life in order.”
        2. Homosexuality is a given in some people’s lives: “I can’t change; this is the way I am, and I can’t repent for that. Stop trying to heap shame on me! You are the one who should repent. If you were like Jesus, your compassion would lead you to accept homosexuals with open arms.”
But there is a third position which we believe is the best solution: simply, homosexuality can be healed. That is, a homosexual can become a heterosexual; the homosexual orientation can be changed through prayer for inner healing and the power of the Holy Spirit. This solution, too, we believe, accords well with what Scripture teaches.

It went on to talk about how gayness results from an absent father in childhood and an overbearing mother; a theory from the 1980’s that has since been disproved by the American society of psychologists. I had come across this sort of thing in the past; i knew very well about reparative therapy and how it does not work; judging by all the millions of stories one comes across on the internet relating to these sorts of therapies. I was somewhat disappointed...i remember thinking that my parents were trying to pull me back into a time when i hated what i was and was looking to be if homosexuality was some sort of disease. 

My dad called me after i read the attachment and i tried to seem optimistic. He told me about all the research they had been doing on the internet about sexual orientation and he was surprised how little he knew about this subject. Their eyes were being opened to the subject of human sexuality. He had come across plenty of studies on homosexuality and had arrived to the conclusion that there is nothing or no-one in the world that can change someone’s orientation....except God; he said. He also said that they would pray for my ‘healing’ but if it does not come, (which he thinks is unlikely) then they would pray for them to come to terms with it.

I remember in that moment understanding their situation, and really understanding how lucky i was to have parents who care so much that they would research the topic of sexuality, and try to understand; even if they held on to belief that change was possible through the intervention of the holy spirit. 

And their holding on to hope that i can be changed makes sense for a parent because they know we live in a society where one can supposedly be killed for their sexuality. They are looking for a way to calm themselves; and if the bible and prayer can give them peace of mind, then why must i take it away from them. But i also can’t help but feel like they r looking for ways to blame themselves, which is why i replied to them stressing that it is not their fault and that the studies mentioned in that article were disproved. I also still feel that this new faith they’ve found, while good, is also a distraction my dad has created. But i guess its an emotional reflex action to help them find their way of coming to terms. 

My dad went on to talk about some ‘Man of God’ that they’ve been talking to. He lives in London and he is Ugandan. A friend of theirs linked them to him and they believe he has some sort of supernatural godly powers. They’ve been praying with him over the phone and after i replied to the email, my dad assures me that they do no explicitly pray about homosexuality, but about the general well being of the family; although i think this is just a technique to keep me from worrying about their praying for my ‘sickness’. In one of our phone conversations, my dad said that i should just be open minded to anything; including their prayers for my ‘healing’, i assume. The big question is how do i do that without seeing myself as someone who has something wrong with them.

This is a very ambiguous position I’m in; it bothers me on one hand, but on the other I’m thankful that my parents have put effort into trying to understand sexuality. I am also conflicted in that, while i believe in a God, a force, a deity out there that is responsible for plenty of the factors at play in our world; i do not believe in the Abrahamic religions, or any religion for that matter. I am spiritual, not religious. I do not read or believe a lot of the things in the bible, like how it says people should keep slaves or should be killed for eating pork, or that gays should be killed. I see religion as a structure created by men, a way of interpreting and understanding this infinite force that is God, and trying to define him/her in a one-dimensional, rigid way that keeps the people who fall into these religions just as one dimensional and rigid. And i know that if there is a God/Force/Higher power out there, he certainly does not seem interested in changing people’s sexual orientations; to do so would be to imply that he made a mistake; either he is too proud to accept his mistake or it wasn’t a mistake to begin with; and these are the two options the masses that are caught up in the rigidity of contemporary religion have to decide between. Which is why they choose to instead brainwash themselves into believing that homosexuality is a choice.

I have come to realize that what my parents are doing is not fanatical religion but an ambiguous spirituality that is helping them feel at peace in the midst of the sudden chaos that comes with finding out that their son is gay. My hope is that this spirituality does not turn into religion, and that it eventually leads them to finally fully understanding and coming to terms with this situation in a society as closed minded and ignorant as Uganda’s. I do not know where we go from here; but we'll find out when I come back home in 6 weeks.