The Bisexuals In Uganda

lgtbIn the past few months, so many of the BLGT blogs and organizations have been writing about the possible anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda. Proposed by an extremist religious group. There are also rumors that some homophobic politicians in the USA here have been supporting this group.  The bill makes any type of behavior that is not heterosexual a crime punishable by death, and it goes after anyone who in any way helps BLGT people—if you are a parent or a friend who knows someone who is queer and you don’t turn them into the state, you could be executed as well! It has been proposed supposedly to “protect children from homosexuals who recruit.” There has been much pressure from both domestic and international groups on the Ugandan government to drop the proposed bill, and many Ugandans of all orientations and political affiliations are against it as well. The most recent development is that instead of execution, BLGT people and their allies might face life imprisonment. Even more disturbing is that a chapter of the Kill the Gays movement is organizing in Newark, New Jersey.

As I’ve been reading about this bill, I’ve wondered where the bisexuals in Uganda stand in all of this. Obviously many of them face the same threat as the gay Ugandans, but they may or may not experience threats unique to them as well—and are they even out as bisexuals and visible in this fight for human rights? If some of them are married to opposite sex partners, and could possibly hide—dare they risk coming out and fighting alongside their queer brothers and sisters, even though they risk imprisonment, torture, and death? The answer turns out to be a resounding yes.

I got invited to this face book group, and I started researching more about bisexual organizations in Uganda and what they are doing to combat the bill. I found a blog and a listing about Bisexual Movement Uganda. On a list of BLGT organizations on Wikipedia, this group is listed as “a group of university students fighting for a livable environment for all LGBTs in Uganda.” Their website says: “The vision of Bisexual Movement Uganda is to have a well organized Bisexual Movement in Uganda which is aware and capable of advocating and defending for their fundamental Human Rights.” It goes on to list some great goals and objectives, enumerate the many problems facing all BLGT people in Uganda, and explain how Bisexual Movement Uganda is working with other Ugandan BLGT groups to try and change social attitudes and fight for equality.

Bisexual Movement Uganda fights against the bill and for the rights of all BLGT people in Uganda, while affirming and contributing to a positive and visible bisexual identity, and giving bisexual people in Uganda a place to turn to that reaffirms their needs and identity. The overall message is one of empowerment and unity, and a courageous way for Uganda’s bisexual community to show that they are not afraid to speak up and stand by their BLGTQ brothers and sisters.

Here in our own bisexual community, as we also join in the fight to help all BLGT people in Uganda, let’s especially remember to do what we can to help out  Bisexual Movement Uganda, as well as other organizations fighting for BLGTQ rights in Uganda, by spreading the word about its existence, giving donations, and any other way we can.

My Experience At The National Equality March

bisexualSo many things had been speculated about the National Equality March that took place last Sunday, and there had been so much controversy and hastiness in throwing it together that no one was sure how well it would go. Well, despite all the trouble leading up to it, the march went off amazingly well, and I had a blast.

The march weekend for me started on the night of Saturday, October 10th, when I went to the BSN/Purrr Enterprises/Binet “Social Mixer for a cause” at the Shadow Room Club in Washington DC. It was a lot of fun, and I got to meet some wonderful people. It was good music, good conversations, and good times all around. I was so glad we actually had a bisexual event of our own before the march. On Saturday things were happening all over DC in preparation for the march-the biggest news being the flash protests that took place all over the city.

On Sunday morning, I was supposed to meet the bisexual groups that were marching at a coffee shop not far from where the march was supposed to start. I took the subway into town with another bi friend, and on the way in we ran into two guys who were together and also were going to the march. They saw our bi flags and asked what they stood for. We told them, and they responded that it made sense and they were glad to see us out. I had also heard on the radio an announcer had been interviewing one of the organizers of the march, and the announcer had called it the “gay and lesbian march” and the organizer had corrected him “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender” march. I was amazed, and I hoped these were good omens!

We met at the coffee house. There were four official bisexual groups: BinetUSAThe New York Area Bisexual Network, the DC Bi Women, and BIMA DC, and three of them brought banners. Overall, there were about 25 of us total that showed up there. I had hoped there would be a bigger turnout, but I was glad to see the people that came. I heard later that there were other bisexual people marching with other groups, so I’m guessing that there were probably quite a few of us overall.

We gathered together with the rest of the crowd—I looked around, and in every direction I had never seen so many people! There were all kinds of neat signs, outfits, and flags. We got our banners ready, tried to line up as best as we could (there was no official order for the groups to line up in) and waited. We waited for about an hour before things started, by which point it was getting hot and we were ready to go!

Around one o’clock, we started to march. It was quite fun, people came up with all kinds of chants, and as we walked, people came out of office buildings and stood on the sidewalks and cheered us on. There were press and camera people all over filming us and taking pictures—I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in one place! There was only one heckler—and he didn’t get too far. Other groups started marching with us, one example being a group that was marching for breast cancer awareness. It was really great to march—the only thing that got annoying was that there was no official order for the how the groups where supposed to organize, so everyone was marching however best they could, and people kept getting separated. Our own groups got separated several times.

At several people found a “shortcut” through the white house lawn! So we walked through there and took some great pictures of people standing in front of the white house holding their banners. Then we marched on, until we hit the west lawn of the capitol, tired and thirsty! Everyone tried to get as close as they could to where the speeches were going to be, and people found places to sit. We sat pretty far up, but still not close enough to actually see the speakers, although we could hear them. The speeches  were moving and inspiring, and they energized the crowd, even though people were tired from marching. In the opening convocation, several GLBT pioneers were mentioned, and to my pleasant surprise, they mentioned a bisexual one. Pretty much all of the speakers said GLBT, some even going so far as to say all four words.

There were four bisexual speakers—Penelope Williams, Lady Gaga, Michael Huffington, and Chloe Noble. Except for Lady Gaga (who everyone already knows is bisexual), each one of the speakers used the word bisexual and conveyed that they were proud to be part of the bisexual community. What was great was to hear the thunderous applause after they said it. They all did wonderfully well and I am so proud of them and honored that they represented us. I actually felt well represented and acknowledged as a bisexual for once.

As the rally was coming to a close, several people in our groups had to start leaving, as they had planes, trains, buses, and rides to catch home. The rest of us went out to dinner, and found the restaurant we went to full of other tired and hungry marchers. After dinner, we went our separate ways and started to try to get home. The process of leaving DC took quite a while because so many people were leaving and it was very crowded. As I was waiting for a subway, I saw civil rights leader Julian Bond, who had spoken at the rally. He was sitting not far from me talking to a family. I now had a confirmed celebrity sighting! After that I made my way home and eventually got there. I know there were several parties in city after the rally, and I wish I could have gone to them, but I was just too tired! I heard they were a lot of fun though.

bisexual justiceWhat was truly amazing about this day was all the energy of the crowd—I could literally feel it-and it energized and motivated me as well. Near the end of the march my feet were killing me, but I marched on because I really believed in what I was marching for. The best part was, I felt totally included that day. Everyone who saw our bi groups was friendly and welcoming, and one of the groups even got interviewed for GLBT.TV.com! It was a great opportunity to come together and focus on the positive and what is best about your community instead of our divisions.

The march seems to have made a real impact-several media outlets have been talking about it. I hope that people can take the positives from it and use it for local activism. Most importantly, I hope that the message of inclusion will bring equality for the BLGT community, and will also inspire more inclusion in the BLGT community itself, especially towards the B and the T.