A conversation with two interns at an HIV clinic

From my fieldnotes (Kampala, 2015).

The topic of homosexuality came up after I found this poster curled up in a corner. One of the interns I was talking to had taken it down.

But we were also discussing human rights earlier — and how some Ugandans (especially those who are involved in opposition politics to Museveni disappear) so the switch to homosexuality didn’t seem that unnatural to the conversation’s flow.

█████ asked me about the US’s perception of Uganda and I told her that most know Uganda because of its stance on gays. They laughed when I told them that many Americans see homosexuality as a way that someone is born, and that it is a human right for them to live freely.They also spouted out the same homophobic rhetoric that I heard last time I was here — that In the U.S. we marry dogs, that gay men’s intestines are destroyed/ come out from anal sex (█████ mentioned that this happened to a boy in northern Uganda). They also used religion to justify their homophobia by saying God did not make people like that.

It was also clear that it baffled them why people would choose to be gay. █████ and ██████ both just said “Why” “why” “why” a lot, and repeatedly asked “why would you be with a fellow man” and “why would I be with a woman.”

I asked if they knew a gay person they shook their heads. Except ███████ later said that she knew someone who was — I suspect that this is someone who is not a close friend but just someone that she knows in passing from university. I am very interested to find out if that person she knows really is gay and what type of life they have to live here.

They both also mentioned that they think same sex boarding schools produce gay people — and ██████ even said that when she was at a same sex boarding school she witnessed some girls who did that but they later got boyfriends. I also heard about this “boarding school phenomena” from people at ██████ as well. This must be another theme that people repeat. ██████ also mentioned that gay westerners come to Uganda and build schools, put a ton of money in them, and then train Ugandan children how to be homosexuals. I asked her where she had seen this — she said she hadn’t. I asked her where she heard it. She said she couldn’t remember.


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