#OutAndAbout is an interview series that explores the lives of members of the LQBTQ community in Africa that are openly out and going about their day to day lives despite the stigma that still largely exists against them. This interview features Tracy from Uganda.
When did you realize you were sexually different?
It was much earlier in life. Let’s say senior four. While my counterparts were cooing about this boy or the other boy, I found that I was generally uninterested and many a time I had to feign interest. Don’t get me wrong there were guys I found fascinating but it wore off real quick. But when it came to girls, it was an entirely different story. I found that every part of me responded to them in an unsettling (well it was unsettling then) way. In a nutshell, that’s it.
How have friends and family reacted to your sexuality?
My immediate family knows and it’s has been an exhausting and heartbreaking experience. When I was younger it was a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ kind of situation. Now that I’m older the pink elephant has turned red and can’t be ignored anymore. It has made my relationship with my mother rather strange because she thinks I only want to spite her hence my “rebellion”.
Friends, on the other hand, have and continue to be supportive. To be clear they don’t treat me any different and I don’t have to edit myself around them. And since we are on the subject, you guys are awesome. I know you will read this.
How was your introduction into the community like?
First and foremost, let’s not call it an introduction. ‘Introduction’ sounds so formal. There was no ceremony and I was not given a lapel pin.
My first experience with the community was a celebration of International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Bi-phobia (IDHOTBI). I was invited by a friend and oh boy it was incredible. I couldn’t begin to fathom that I was in a space with all these people who were like me and I get to be myself and celebrate my existence without fear of rebuke. Let’s just say I enjoyed the experience very much and to date, IDHOTBI is my favorite queer celebration.
Any significant differences between dating in the hetero vs LGBTQ scene?
Yes, very big differences!!! For starters, the dating pool is very small for the Queer community. There is a running joke that most lesbians have dated everyone to the point that they start to date their exes.
Another major difference is that one just can’t approach someone they like because, aside from rejection, there is also fear of being beaten up or being outed for those who are not yet out. It’s the whole thing, no scenario is similar and each time is very new and frightening.
One thing I love about the Queer community though is that aspects of relationships like gender roles are thrown out of the window. Each couple finds their own dynamic. There are very many differences but at the end of the day all couples whether Hetero or Queer only want love and a partner who supports them. Companionship basically!!
Do you ever wish you were born “normal”?
Honestly, there was a time in my life where I would have done anything to be” normal”. But that part of my life is over. One of the hardest things as a queer person is self-acceptance and because I had not come to terms with who I was, I still thought of myself as an anomaly. But once that journey had been traveled, I have fully embraced myself. I may have trauma from elsewhere but being Queer, I’m happy to say, is not one of those places. In fact, I’m proudly Queer and happy to say I’m doing some awesome gay shit at the moment.
Are you religious and, if yes, how do you reconcile your sexuality with the biblical teachings that are normally quoted against your sexuality?
I’m no longer religious. But I would like to think I’m spiritual. That’s all I will share least I get into a rant about religion.
What has being a part of the community taught you about humanity?
Being part of the LGBTI has taught me how extreme human nature can be. Sometimes it can be cruel and unforgiving for something that doesn’t even directly affect them. For instance, why would someone throw a brick at your windscreen without even knowing you personally? Their conviction is that your sexuality rubs them the wrong way.
Yet on the other side of the spectrum of humanity, there is unconditional love and support from strangers who immediately become family. A lot of the persons in the Queer community will tell you they have what we call “chosen family”. People who we meet and they become family in a matter of minutes.
So, yes, the community has taught that even though we live in a cruel world there is good and love and kindness. It has also made me aware of my privilege and reminded me to be kind no matter the situation.
What’s your response to those that say LGBTI people can do their thing in private but don’t have to broadcast themselves to the whole world through activism?
My only response to that would be, I would have no problem doing my “thing” in private if in turn, even heterosexual persons can do their thing in private. Don’t hold hands, don’t have public weddings, call for a family meeting to come out of the closet as heterosexual, NOT go around talking about their spouses or partners because it’s offensive to me. If the heterosexual community can mindful of this, then I will be mindful of mine.
Any common misconceptions about LGBTQ people you’d like to correct?
Yes, please! The biggest misconception is that LGBTI people are unproductive drug dosed alcoholic individuals who get free money! First of all, there is no place where we line up every month to get our free money (but if anyone knows this place that I speak of, hola at a sister)
Secondly, most queer people I have met are brilliant formidable individuals who are exceptional at what they do. Artists, writers, lawyers, mothers and activists, etc whose lives are made impossible by the inhumane way that society has and continues to treat us.
Img Src: listening2lesbians.com