Notes from the Lavender Table Spotlight
As members of the American LGBT community, we are asked to care about, subscribe to, share, donate to, be outraged by, protest, celebrate, boycott and even ‘like’ a variety of causes, actions, political figures and news items affecting the LGBT community here in our country.
Sometimes it can be quite overwhelming.
Some merely check out, go about their lives blithely ignorant and don't look at any of it—pretending it has no connection to them. Others take on each fight and each new cause with the energy of a PR team of twenty, making it their own and keeping at it until true and lasting change happens. Each of us could name activists like that, but the truth is, it’s just too overwhelming for people. One of these issues that many seem to think is beyond the scope or control of the American LGBT community is the crisis in Uganda.
While far too many people were overly preoccupied by Kiss-ins and Marriage Equality rallies at Chick-fil-A, the more important story, in my opinion, were the reports of atrocities happening to the LGBT people of Uganda, which just happened to have ties to the fast food chain.
In the news recently, a Ugandan LGBT activist was arrested after a (consensual) gay sex home video was confiscated. His fate remains in the balance.
In the last month, news surfaced via blogs, that House Speaker Boehner provided anti-gay lobbying/political action groups meeting space in the US House. The reported nature of those meetings? Examining with intent to implement the Russian and Ugandan way of dealing with, as the group’s spokesman put it, “the policies of decline, death and disease promoted by the Sexual Radicals.”
We, believe it or not, can and should speak up when we hear of these events, no matter where they happen. We should put pressure on our elected officials as well as the United Nations in order to effect change and make life better for those in other countries seemingly powerless against their own governments.
Recently, I became acquainted, via Facebook, with a young gay man from Uganda who has written to me of he and his partner's plight. The following is his story:
"My name is Steven, aged 18 and my partner is called Mark, also aged 18. We met at school and fell in love during our vacation. One day, my cousin discovered us having sex. As it is unacceptable, in my country, he called us ‘devils’ and told us we ‘deserved to die’. He reported us to our parents. Later, one evening, around midnight, I was awoken from a deep sleep by the sounds of a crowd approaching." Steven continues, “They pounded on our door, filling me with terror. I could hear people discussing with my parents how we should be dealt with. It was decided, that I should be starved to death. After two days, my younger brother stole the keys to the locks keeping me prisoner. I escaped and ran away. My partner had much the same story. “His parents turned him over to that same mob to be beaten, saying they ‘could not have given birth to such an evil son’ and he ‘deserved to die’. He also escaped. We wound up at a friend’s house. The friend, once learning of our being gay, chased us out from his home, saying we were ‘not human’.”
Sadly, this story is not unique. Many Ugandan LGBT are being ostracized and disowned by family and friends, beaten and yes, killed. The LGBT crisis in Uganda deserves our attention. It deserves to come before Facebook stalking, Tweeting fashion tips, cruising Manhunt, and yes, I believe even before our own precious Marriage Equality. The United States and some of our religious groups and leaders hold direct responsibility for what is happening in that country. We need to now show leadership to help stop it.