secret vows

On The Eve of Uganda’s Kill The Gays Bill, Two Men Get … Married?!

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While blogger Jeremy Hooper’s Connecticut wedding gets featured in one of Martha Stewart’s magazines, we’re guessing this Uganda(!) wedding won’t be appearing in the periodicals anytime soon.

Not just because the two grooms could be imprisoned under Uganda’s current laws, but because the social stigma is alive and well. And the grooms and wedding party were running from cameras.

But as the blogger behind Gay Uganda notes, the two men, who wed in a secret ceremony on Saturday, actually did ask their parents’ permission to marry; and both sets of parents, amazingly, honored their wishes. The anonymous scribe shares his partner’s first-person account of the ceremony, which wasn’t even announced to guests as a gay wedding.

An enclosed compound, which was secured. Two armed policemen at the gate. Well, we can hire the police, like all other Ugandans. The details of the ceremony is our damned business. As long as they keep out inquisitive others. And, they did try to.

Guys arrived in their ‘introduction ceremony’ specials. Traditionally, it is traditional wear. It is a traditional ceremony. ‘Kanzus’ for the men, ankle length shirt like dress, white, with a jacket over them. A little tuck in at the waist, to expose the ankles, discreetly, to allow the man to walk without impendiment. The best, the most expensive are silk. Very smart. Women in ‘gomesis’, another very Ugandan piece of wear.

My partner arrived at the compound, and was let in.

On time, the ceremony started. It is long, with lots of gift giving, hyperbole, laughter. The grooms are not on show. Not at all. It is an elaborate ritual of give and take, laughter, noise, story telling. Introductions, rules of ceremony. With a master of ceremony on both sides (groom and groom), whose job is to make it as lively, as interesting as possible. The two compete to out do the other.

It is at the end, when the shy bride is brought out of the house. The one who is introducing her man to the prospective parents. That is when my partner realized that, it was a groom introducing a groom. A gay introduction ceremony. In Uganda, at this particular moment.

Fact is, the secret had been so well kept that, well, a number of people didn’t know!

My partner, well, his anxiety levels shot into the stratosphere. The buzz was, strong.

People were peeping in at the fence, and, the secret was out. A crowd was gathering, and the policemen were overwhelmed. A gay introductory ceremony was taking place, and, that was news indeed.

Music, talking, ritualized counseling. They happened, the kuchus now happy that the secret was out. They were delirious with joy. Two of their number were actually coming out and making their partnership official. In the traditional way.

Such gossip has wings. Crowd at the gate grew big. They wanted to know what was happening inside, in the compound. The rumours were too tantalizing. The music, the atmosphere of gaiety too tempting. They wanted to know.

Pure, absolute madness. Reckless, foolish, wonderful courage.

My partner decided it was time to leave, before it got violent. Signs were that it would.

Later, those kuchus who stayed told us that they started sneaking out, one by one. Cameras, that was the first fear. In all our finery, photos in the local tabloids can be damning. They left the food, drinks on the tables.

Gay Uganda says that despite police attention, the two grooms are “fine, for now.” If the Anti-Homosexuality Bill passes? Such action — getting married — would be punishable by life in prison.