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Pro-Gay Play Staged in Uganda

Jim Burroway

August 20th, 2012

While there continues to be police raids of LGBT meetings in Uganda, there are, also, signs of incremental improvement in the atmosphere LGBT people in Uganda find themselves in. Yet another small sign is in a stage play, “The River and the Mountain,” which premiered last Friday in a little-known theater in Uganda after the government banned its performance at the national theater. So far, and contrary to expectations, police have not raided the venue:

Pepe Julian Onziema, a prominent gay activist in Uganda, praised the staging of the play here as “revolutionary,” saying it could help reduce the stigma suffered by homosexuals.

“I think it’s time that we opened our minds to the things happening in our midst,” Onziema said on Monday.

The play itself reflects the tensions that are very well known in Uganda, but contains elements that many Americans can identify as well:

The main character is a 29-year-old corporate businessman whose mother desperately wants him to get married. The woman pays a Christian pastor to “cure” her son after she learns of his homosexuality. When the cleric fails to achieve her objective, she wants her money back. Then she enlists the services of a private dancer and, finally, a witchdoctor. She never succeeds in her mission.

At his workplace, the gay character’s employees are so shocked to learn he is gay that they wonder aloud, “But he is a good man.” In the end their new hatred for their boss overpowers any affection they previously felt for him, and the play ends as they swing machetes, baying for his blood.

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