In an unmarked office on the outskirts of Kampala, veteran activist David Kato labors to repeal Uganda’s homophobic laws and liberate his fellow lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender men and women, or “kuchus.” But David’s formidable task just became much more difficult. A new “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” proposes death for HIV-positive gay men, and prison for anyone who fails to turn in a known homosexual. Inspired by American evangelicals who have christened Uganda ground zero in their war on the “homosexual agenda,” the bill awaits debate in Parliament. As if that weren’t enough, the country’s newspapers have started outing kuchus under headlines such as: “HOMO TERROR! We Name and Shame Top Gays in the City.”
David, Uganda’s first openly gay man, is one of the few who dare to publicly protest the country’s government and press. Working with an idiosyncratic clan of fellow activists, David fights for Kampala’s kuchus on Ugandan television, at the United Nations, and in the courts. Because, he insists, “if we keep on hiding, they will say we are not here.” But just three weeks after a landmark legal victory, David is found bludgeoned to death in his home. His murder sends shockwaves around the world, and leaves Kampala’s kuchus traumatized and seeking answers for a way forward.
With unprecedented access, Call Me Kuchu explores a community that is at once persecuted and consoled by the Christian faith, and examines the astounding courage and determination required not only to battle an oppressive government, but also to maintain religious conviction in the face of the contradicting rhetoric of a powerful national church.
Call Me Kuchu, while heartbreaking, goes beyond the chronicle of victimization depicted in U.S. news media: it tells the nuanced story of Kampala’s kuchus as they work to change their fate, and that of other kuchus across Africa.
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