During Black History Month, the mainstream media recycles stories about Martin Luther King and Malcolm X while LGBTQ outlets predictably trot out RuPaul, Bayard Rustin, and Laverne Cox and other examples of great African-Americans we’re already well acquainted with.
Over the next week, we’re going to spotlight a few amazing black unsung heroes.
These people are leaders, journalists, and activists who span the entire African diaspora (i.e. not only Americans).
First up, the late David Kato.
David Kato was a Ugandan teacher and activist considered Uganda’s first openly gay man. Kato came out in in 1998 via a press conference, eventually becoming one of the founding members of SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda). Homosexuality remains illegal.
He continued to teach, quitting in 2010 to commit himself entirely to change. Kato advocated before multiple groups, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission.
In 2010, Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (not that one) published a list of the “top 100 homos” containing a chilling directive to “hang them.” Several people on the list were attacked after publication. The list put Kato’s life in still more danger, and he spoke of his fears with a reporter:
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Kato was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in early 2011 by his houseguest and acquaintance Nsubuga Enock in what was Enock called a “personal disagreement.” It is still illegal to be gay in Uganda, though Kato’s actions have helped to move the tolerance needle forward.
Kato’s story was made into the documentary Call Me Kuchu. We salute his memory.
Watch the trailer for Call Me Kuchu below. Check it out: