Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

We Are Here LGBT Life in Uganda

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

We Are Here LGBT Life in Uganda

Article excerpt

Uganda's parliament is once again considering the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would prescribe the death penalty for many LGBT Ugandans and call for imprisonment of friends and family members who do not turn known LGBT people over to the authorities. But despite potential passage of the so-called Kill the Gays bill and a hostile environment stoked to an ideological inferno by American evangelicals proselytizing in eastern Africa, Ugandan LGBT people have a simple message: We are here. We are Ugandan. We will not be silenced.

American-born photographer D. David Robinson first traveled to Uganda in 2008, and after living in Uganda for the past year while working with a local nonprofit, Robinson found himself welcomed into the small but vibrant lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community. Robinson's new friends repeatedly told him their experiences had no visibility in media commentary, even within Uganda. Together they decided to document their lives through photos and first-person stories, shared with the world in order to elevate the voices of these oft-silenced people--a brave and dangerous move in a country where coming out could soon get you a death sentence.

"This is a project of intimate storytelling," says Robinson, himself gay. "It is not political, even if these individuals are activists and human rights defenders in Uganda. These are personal stories, and obviously just a small window onto each person's experience of discovering their sexual orientation and learning to survive and thrive in the country they love."

The lensman says he hopes everyone will see that the Ugandans in these photos are not victims; they are human rights leaders. And they are profoundly human: at once vulnerable, resilient, flawed, and creative.

"Even though most of the Ugandan government and many religious leaders have abandoned them, these Ugandans have not abandoned their country or their faith. Above all, they are proud to be Ugandans," says Robinson.

Robinson collected first-person stories and photographed 11 LGBTI Ugandans, which you can find at Advocate.com/Uganda, along with updates on the political situation in that country. …

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