Closet homosexuals sink further under the radar after Kato's death

Published: February 7, 2011

He sits at a table with his fingers encircled around the tail of a glass filled with Smirnoff. He is at a Kampala nightspot and has dissolved into the crowd, looking just like any other reveller. What most people at the bar would not know however, is that he, plus a couple of his colleagues at the venue, is homosexual. He demands that his identity is hidden if he is to be quoted in the papers instead; he proposes a pseudonym, Alan Mukasa.

He gives off no signs that he is gay. He’s not dressed in a tight fitting pair of jeans, commonly known as skinnies, his hair is a natural un-treated neatly trimmed black, he has no studs or earrings, wears no make-up or anything that may attract undue attention to him. “It’s a security precaution one has to take,” he says. “The best way to hide is to fit in.

Be as ordinary as everyone else and there will not be many questions to ask, and answers to give,” he adds. There is an ever-present sense of consciousness that runs on autopilot in the Ugandan gay man’s mind, Mukasa says. But that was before the murder of gay rights activist, David Kisule Kato last month, which, as Mukasa says, “Forces you to ask yourself whether you have watched your back well.”

Mukasa and Sam Musiime (also not real name), say the gay Ugandan living in the closet now has to add even more latches and keep the world away from the skeletons. “The aftermath of David Kato Kisule’s death is a strange atmosphere of confusion, fear, sadness, shock, and terror,” Musiime says, adding, “After watching a pastor deliver a less than savoury hate speech at his funeral, all I could think is, ‘they must think we are all mad’.”

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