I had a big privilege to know Herbert since 2013. Throughout the years, he haven’t stopped inspiring me with all of what he was doing, in the most energizing and influencing way, each time impressing more and more. I was extremely happy to have him as one of my heroes. Here’s his moving story:
I came from a family of 15 children, 6 from the same father and mother. Growing up most of my time I would be with my sisters, because they were the people I felt more comfortable around than my brothers. My mother was NGO driver, the first woman in Uganda to drive a car in Uganda police. I lost her when I was in primary four and sometimes I wish she was still alive, because I would have talked to her about my sexuality and I know she would love me for me. My dad he is a retired police officer.
In primary I felt different, not like other boys. They would get interested in sports and dating girls, for me I would love to hang out with girls as well as do girl things. As a kid I loved to play games where I would act like a mother. One day at home while playing games, a guy out of the blue came and kissed me. I felt happy and at the same time confused. Also I was stigmatized and discriminated because of my difference from other children, since I would behave like a girl.
When I joined secondary, I started going to the internet to research about homosexuality. That was the word I would hear most, because my friends and family would say am like a homosexual. Initially, I thought I was the only one in Uganda until I got to a web site called gay Uganda dating site. I met different people there. The first person I met was able to mentor about the LGBT community and how I should be careful when it comes to my security as well as the people I meet on this site.
After secondary I went to campus to study a course for social work so that I can be able to help my community to live a better life because of the stigma and discrimination I as well as stories of LGBT community members would share on community Sundays at Icebreakers Uganda, one of the LGBT organizations. After campus I started volunteering at Icebreakers Uganda as I applied at my former secondary school as a school counselor. I got the place, but as soon as I reported for my first day at work, I was told to leave the school premises because someone had told them that I was gay, and I will be promoting it among the students. That was the beginning of my journey as an LGBT activist to change attitudes of heterosexual people towards the LGBT community.
I don’t want any community members to go through what I went through. During my journey as an LGBT activist, I have faced a lot of challenges like blackmailed, violenced by unknown people, people reaching out to my family telling them I’m gay, being excluded from some family events etc. But I have been able to achieve some success like educating my family about my sexuality to the level that they support me 100%, counseling some community members who wanted to attempt suicide, launching the “Invisible Scars” book, which talks about mental health issues within the LGBT community in Uganda and am still achieving more.
I plan to own or open up a mental health wellness, the first of its kind I Uganda, which will offer friendly services to the LGBTIQ community in Uganda. They will have different services like yoga, one on one sessions, group sessions etc. I will continue my activism work in Uganda, because I believe something better is coming to Uganda among the LGBTIQ community. I plan to mentor more youth LGBT community members and to take over the leadership, because there is a new generation and future of LGBTIQ advocacy.
My vision is to see a Uganda free from stigma and discrimination among the LGBTIQ community. I see us being treated the same as the rest of the community members.