“The heterosexuals are making us into a business”

From my fieldnotes (Kampala, 2015).

We are sitting in our usual spot. Except today the group is larger.

███ comes about five minutes after I get there. Still wearing what he was wearing to work today. He sat down ordered a beer and started talking about corruption in Uganda — and how the LGBT community was allocated 2 million dollars for programming and he suspects that it is being stolen. The organization in charge of allocating the money is The AIDS Support Organization (TASO), — where I interned for three months and have an ongoing research project. — I know from participant observations that almost everyone working at the Mulago branch is homophobic and transphobic.

“They are eating the money” ███ said, “and buying themselves land cruisers.”

“Our people are suffering. They are being fucked without condoms because the need survival.”

He looked disgusted and took another sip of beer.

███ sat back a said, “The heterosexuals are making us into a business!”

We all laughed.

He continued talking about how they have learned how to get money — to get funding as if they support LGBTI programming. But when the funding comes they “eat it.”

███ went on to critique the way the West implements aid by saying, “the west and America implements aid in a militaristic way.”

I found this critique unique — and I plan to probe further. He implied that the US/western donors just bulldozes into everything leaving everything messed up in the process.

The conversation took a turn when ███ said that “what we lack in this community is real allies.”

███ agreed. And added something I have heard before from ███ — especially around the organizing of Pride this year.

“We need more ‘out’ people. Me, I like those outings. I like them publishing in the papers. Visibility is good!”

His eyes grew big, and he grinned. He looked over towards ███ who was just smiling and shaking his head — acknowledging the outlandish statement as a joke instead of something serious.

The conversation ended with talking about having Pride on the streets of Kampala next year — a sentiment I have heard repeated on numerous occasions and by numerous people. They talked about getting tired of having interviews with muzungus — and how “they come for three months, leave and then are considered experts with an office at the UN.” Something else I have heard often — just in different words.


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