HELD HOSTAGE IN UGANDA
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.”