HELD HOSTAGE IN UGANDA

DNA Magazine - - FEATURE -

This was only weeks af­ter the mas­sacre in the gay club in Or­lando, so we couldn’t help but think… are we gonna die?

“BE­ING GAY in Uganda is like be­ing in an un­der­ground re­sis­tance move­ment dur­ing a war. A war where any dis­play of rain­bow flags or any­thing else as­so­ci­ated with gay cul­ture can put your life at risk.

“For our mu­sic videos, I smug­gled in wigs to the trans per­form­ers in Uganda. One of our singers nearly got ar­rested for wear­ing rain­bow make-up. It sounds ex­treme but that’s the re­al­ity. That’s how dan­ger­ous it is. The rain­bow flag in the west in just a fun party thing, but in Uganda it’s a for­bid­den dan­ger­ous sym­bol.

“One of the defin­ing mo­ments of my jour­ney with Rain­bow Ri­ots, if not my life, was in 2016. My Ugan­dan friends and I were cel­e­brat­ing Uganda Pride in a venue with a few hun­dred LGBT peo­ple. Sud­denly the po­lice stormed in with ma­chine guns and or­dered us down on the floor. No one could leave the venue and they held us all hostage for two hours. This was only weeks af­ter the mas­sacre in the gay club in Or­lando, so we couldn’t help but think… are we gonna die? Ev­ery­one was silent. All you could hear was some­one cry­ing. Later we found out some­one had jumped three sto­ries to es­cape and broke their spine. I’ll never for­get that night.

“That event made me ded­i­cate my life to fight­ing for change. Al­though we had ma­chine guns pointed at us, I didn’t feel scared, I felt sad. Dur­ing the raid I looked at rain­bow flags torn down and thrown on the floor and I looked into the eyes of a stranger. It was the sad­dest pair of eyes I have ever seen but, in the mid­dle of that sad­ness and chaos, ev­ery­one stuck to­gether. When you are in a sit­u­a­tion like that the things that mat­ter in life be­come very clear. I have taken that feel­ing with me. We need to fo­cus on the im­por­tant things, sup­port each other, stick to­gether and never take our rights for granted.”

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