We Are Here: LGBTI in Uganda

Published: January 2, 2013

Kaliisa Elijah, 34-year-old gay man

As a kid, I thought I had been bewitched by one of my stepmothers — I had six — or that I’d been possessed by an evil spirit from the mountains or lakes near my village. I didn’t accept myself, my sexual thoughts or feelings. I considered myself to be of no use. Suicide seemed to be one of my only options to escape from the pain.

I was born a Muslim but converted to Christianity as a young man, thinking I would be cured of my attraction to men. I talked to church leaders believing that they would be able to help, but that did not happen. Instead, the more I prayed, the more I loved men. It wasn’t until I met others who were born gay like me that I began to accept myself and to see that being gay isn’t a mistake or an accident.

Now, when I’m traveling between Mbarara and Kampala, I sometimes see young adults who remind me of my struggling, younger self. Sometimes I reach out to them. I tell them that I am also kuchu, that they are not alone. They are always surprised. They ask, “How did you know?”

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