Editorial Photo Essay
There are two ways to get by as queer in Uganda: live “loud and proud” or in the closet. This series of images was created to offer a peek into the lives of that second group, people for whom being open with their identity is not an option.
It is not easy to be queer in Uganda, nor was it last spring when this series was created. Just months before the now-defunct Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, 2014 had been pushed through the African nation's parliament by the administration of 30-year president Yoweri Museveni. Many local and international observers still believe the bill was simply a convenient distraction from several brewing political scandals; a half-hearted attempt to divert the stresses of ineffective development paired with rapid globalization towards something other than the government. The act brought international headlines, plenty of scorn from the West, and even sanctions on some aid moneys.
Lost in the debate: the faces and voices of Uganda's vibrant queer community. With help from local, national, and international human rights organizations this series was created to capture the stress and fear of living underground as a queer Ugandan. It was created in a sort of safe house in the outskirts of the Ugandan capital, Kampala. The house is managed by a human rights activist named Simon who is portrayed twice in this series draped in a Ugandan flag and peering over his desk into the camera. Summing up the situations of those he helped he said, “When two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.”