Did you know that when a little girl loses her mother, all she wants to do is live with her father and not be sent to an orphanage? She wants to live in a familiar space where love lives, where her family and friends won’t ask her things they already know, like her name, what she likes and doesn’t like. Where she will receive hugs, smiles and laughter from familiar faces. Is that too much to ask on her way to the orphanage as her father finds warmth in the bed of another woman?
Did you know that in Jamaica, homosexual men are referred to as fish? One wonders what the connection is. Why someone even thinks that a man deserves to be compared with a fish because of his sexuality. Do homosexual men have scales? Can we hate so much that we refer to someone derogatorily as fish? These are some of the unrealistic questions I ask myself. I wish I had the answers to some of the questions.
I come from a country (Uganda) that creates a hostile environment for the LGBTQI+ community. We make sure that nobody speaks about homosexuality. In 2014, one media house named ‘200 top homosexuals’ in Uganda, just a day after a harsh law criminalising homosexuality, (subsequently annulled), was promulgated. One wonders why they did it at that time, what reaction they expected from the public and what more they were going to do about it.
This is the second issue of Speak OUT! I wonder if we live in an environment where we can speak out about issues that affect us, issues that are close to our hearts and issues that keep us awake at night. And in some places, I know that is impossible because some people make sure that nobody speaks out.
There are always gatekeepers who make sure that we don’t say what we want to say, make sure that we don’t complain when we should about the rising prices of fuel, sugar and soap, make sure that we find something different in our neighbours so that we can hate them, make sure that our families are constantly divided, make sure that they feel more important than the rest of the country so we must smoothen their insatiable egos. There are people who will trivialise our pain and laugh at us when we cry. And yes, we must speak out because if we don’t, nobody will know how we feel, how we bleed in silence and how we slept hungry because we couldn’t afford to buy cabbage or cassava.
I hope that you will fall in love with these stories of writers who were able to speak out. Stories that will break your heart and will also heal your heart; some stories will be like yours, and you will wonder how these writers wrote your story, maybe because you couldn’t find time to write yours or because somebody put a knife over your neck and said, don’t speak OUT. Things that you have been dealing with and don’t yet know the answers to.
Yes, it’s time to speak OUT!
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