The curse and pain of being a lesbian and disabled in Uganda
Today, I walk you through my journey to self-acceptance. While I am excited, I sometimes wish I should have come out years ago. It certainly would have made my life a lot more exciting.
On the other hand, I sometimes think that if I did it earlier, I might have simply ended up worn out from fighting my way out of two closets in a society that normalizes discrimination and hate towards people like me.
As a member of persons with disability (PWD), a socially stigmatized group, I carried with me the heavy burden of not admitting membership to the second one, LGBTQIA+ or queer. Yet, coming out of both closets — living proudly as gay and disabled, is not as easy as you might think.
Being openly gay was pure heaven for a while and most certainly a cure for loneliness. I actually met my soulmate around this time! The joy was short lived as reality soon kicked in: In addition to the usual stigma and discrimination faced, I had to deal with homophobia from people with disabilities, as well as ableism in the queer community.
Coming out to family and friends was met with microaggressions, semi homophobic slurs and discrimination. I internalized and wrestled with the consistent negative messages thrown at me. For instance, I came to believe that I was an abomination; That my disability was some kind of punishment to my family.
The negative messages and treatment I received suggested that I was less human and that I would never amount to much in life. My efforts to fight back were constantly shut down. Whenever I would express myself, no one listened-they were blinded by their biases. My efforts to advocate for myself were shut down by those who viewed me ‘unable.’ Well-intentioned people assumed that they knew what was best for me without consulting. Such experiences made me create create a safe space or a place where I knew I could be myself and be loved; this is until recently.
These experiences created a complex situation where my entire identity developed around my disability. I somehow turned the situation into a beautiful dream of what I wanted at the time without people’s opinions because I had seized all the power. I have done a lot of work since then, including my advocacy work, to get to know myself and merge these once very separate identities – my disability and my sexuality, into one, while fighting for positive change.
When I met the love of my life I made sure that it was known to my immediate and chosen family , despite the difficulties they put me through. I was happy and madly in love and it was a way of publicly saying this is real and I don’t need your input. While it was not easy, it really was amazing to be around so many people that were okay with the direction my life was taking, well that was until the breakup happened.
As I type this story, with tears rolling down cheeks and my head wanting to explode from anger, stress, and loneliness. I would like some positivity into my life. I wish to connect more with queer people. I am also working toward being a little more intentional about expressing my plight as a disabled queer person.
Are you a queer person with disability? Do you relate to this story? Feel free to share your own in the comments section.