Abasiyazzi is the Ugandan equivalent of the American word Queer.
I am Pepe Julian Onziema, a Ugandan transman. Presently, I am the Program Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and recipient of the 2012 Clinton Global Initiative Award. I shot the video of the first Ugandan/East African Gay Pride event you saw above at which people were arrested.
My friend, Tim McCarthy is a Gay Video Historian and has traveled the world since April 1990 in search of LGBTIA Culture; 90 countries so far and all 7 continents. Two minutes of Tim's archival footage are in the 2012 Oscar Nominated documentary "How To Survive A Plague". He is also an award winning filmmaker and will be my mentor and partner in this project.
We want your help to produce a documentary about Ugandan LGBTI life to be shown primarily in Uganda. The world media comes to Uganda and takes the story away to you. We need your help to document and share our LGBTI Ugandan life with our fellow Ugandans; the very people who hold our fate and need most to hear our truth.
This documentary will explore the cultural and legal history of homosexuality in Uganda up to the present “Kill the Gays Bill” pending in the Ugandan Parliament. This will be complemented by LGBTIA Ugandans sharing their lives with their own clans people, in their own language and cultural traditions, including our Traditional Healers and Beliefs.
According to the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project, only 4 percent of Ugandan residents believed that homosexuality was an acceptable way of life. In 2010, another study revealed that 11 percent of Ugandans viewed homosexual behavior as being morally acceptable. This came about because Ugandans are becoming more aware of their LGBTI sisters and brothers. Telling our fellow Ugandans our story will continue to create allies. As you know from your own experience, the more people know you the less they hate or fear you.
Tim and I will spend 5 weeks (April -May 2013) traveling around the 5 regions of Uganda sampling positive views of Ugandan Abasiyazzis through their lives, cultural beliefs and folk tales. We will talk with the local straight allies and Traditional Healers about their views and set up locations to show the finished film, locally.
When Tim leaves, I will continue to document our lives and events including our Second East African Gay Pride in August of 2013 where we will fly the Gay Flags we have as gifts for your support. I will then travel to Tim's home to edit the footage with him in the months of August and September. While the film is intended directly for Ugandans, we will be entering it into international film festivals and make it a gift for your support.
When I return to Uganda, I will continue documenting and confirm the series of showings in November and December. Once we know the dates and places of the showings, Tim will join me travelling around Uganda showing the finished film in the areas that we filmed it, to the people who are in it; in their own towns, in their own homes, in their own voices, completing the circle.
The funds will go towards producing the film and security. Uganda offers numerous geographic and security issues. The western border is with the Congo. The northern border is with Sudan and Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. The roads are not the best or complete, nor are the living quarters. We both have experiences of working in difficult situations. In this case, the difficulty is not the story, it is the financial resources required to tell it. Any additional funds raised above our target will go towards marketing the film and getting it shown in Uganda.
The skills I learn doing this will allow me to teach other Ugandans and create our first Ugandan/East African LGBTIA Media Network.
Risks and challenges
While Tim and I will face challenges, we would be neglectful in not mentioning the danger that the people we interview will face. We want people to be as out as they feel safe in being. We will use behind the head shots and change people's voices to ensure their safety. Everyone is clear that to do this work requires being in danger.
Tim has received his Ugandan Visa, so the first challenge has been met.
Getting around Uganda will be a challenge that we will meet by renting a Land Rover and hiring a driver.
Hotels will be limited in number and facilities. We will have camping equipment as back up.
Mosquito borne diseases are a very real problem. Nets, vaccines and drugs are our defenses.
Personal security will be our greatest concern. I hold my job in part because the person who held this job before me, David Kato, was murdered. We will hire a Private Security Guard to accompany us and we will be circumspect about our travel plans.
If we are harassed by the local or national police, everyone on our Security Email List and the Clinton Global Initiative will be notified to aid in our release.
Abasiyazzi is the Ugandan equivalent of the American word Queer. A word that can be hurtful and derisive or embolden and defiant. Like American Queers, Ugandans want to reclaim and change Abasiyazzi into a badge of honor. This word will get Ugandans' attention, straight and gay.
$10 will make a difference for Ugandan LGBTI people and their Allies. You will be on our Security Email List, get your name in the film credits and receive monthly email blasts about our progress. In the event we need international intervention to secure our release, you will receive an email telling you who to contact.
All of the above plus a piece of Traditional Ugandan Bark Cloth, personally addressed to you and blessed by a Ugandan Traditional Healer from the film and signed by the film makers, suitable for framing.
All of the above plus a unique piece of art. We will take your favorite minute from the film and put it in a picture frame (20 inch flat screen TV) that you can hang on your wall like a painting. And access to monthly Google hangouts to talk directly with the filmmakers about the progress and see some of the latest footage.