I started texting with Jazz few years ago, and only managed to meet her on my last visit in Kampala in 2020. We had great time and I had an incredible opportunity to get to know her better. She agreed to share her story, which is really not easy, but definitely many can relate to it.

I am 23 year old, due to some reasons living alone and dependant in Kampala, Uganda. I grew up with both of my parents and I am the second last born in our family. My mom loved me a lot. I was taken to better schools and my parents would always give me anything I ask. Until everything changed. Sometimes I feel like it’s my fault, but maybe not, maybe that is how things were meant to be.

During my high school I was only 14 years old and I figured out that I might be different from everyone else. I always wanted to share how I felt, but I had no one to talk to, neither could I tell my mom or my siblings, because I knew it would get me into trouble. It kept growing stronger every day. I would love to watch my fellow girls and I liked to look a lot.

One day I became friends with a beautiful and famous girl at school. The more time we spent together, the better friends we became. I started falling for her and decided to become her secret admirer. I would write her notes and hide them in her bag, and she would read them and ask me if we can try to guess which guy is crushing on her. As we were talking, I hoped that she knew it was me.

I was having crush on her. The time passed, I kept writing her letters, giving her beautiful stuff. I would just put it in her bag without her knowing. Then one day leaving for holiday I told her how I felt. It was something that changed everything. She hated me, everything turned out to be weird. When I came back to school after the holiday, everyone at school was looking at me. I felt bad, I felt like I should not go back to school. I was cold by our class teacher to the staff room. When I went there, they called her too, and she brought all the letters I used to write her. They had to call my parents. I was put in front of the whole school. The teacher said that I should be the first person who would prove to everyone that homosexuality is a sin. I got whipped in front of all the school. I remember that ay as if it was yesterday.

Later, when I was in my senior 4, one day I forgot my bag in class and some crazy boys from class opened it to see if I had left my pen inside. When they opened it, my dairy book was the first thing they could reach. It was so beautifully designed by me on the cover. They got it out and read everything I had written about my feelings for women. When I came back to class, I caught them still reading it. I pulled off from them. They kept laughing and telling. The staff was called. I got suspended from school.

My parents felt unproud of me, most especially dad. He asked if everything was true. I said no. Then he asked why I wrote that if it wasn’t true. He got very angry. He tortured me. I ran away from home, it was too much for me. I slept outside for almost one month. I was raped by the guys who promised me to help me get somewhere nice to sleep. My mom kept searching for me. One day we met and she told me to go far, where my dad couldn’t look for me. She gave me money to go to the village and stay with my grandmother, but she was also unhappy about everything.

I went there, got some work and earned some little money. I bought a phone and got in contact with my old straight friends. Sometimes they kept asking why I never had a boyfriend, until one day I came out to them. Surprisingly, some of them were fine with me. They stayed with me up till now and been very supportive. I still feel I wasn’t ready to come out of the closet, society made me come out.

Right now am struggling to find love, hearing bad words from people about how I look and what I wear. It’s hard to get a job because of what I wear. I don’t feel comfortable wearing female clothes, yet people need workers who are more girly. I can’t visit my family because they are not happy around me the way I am.

I dream about leaving this Uganda and going somewhere where I would just be myself. I want to use my writing to make this world a better place. I wanna write my story, and about what is happening in Uganda. There is so many people out there in the world who don’t even know that in Uganda people can get life sentence or even be killed by being gay. Sometimes even because of what they wear or how they look. How many people give up  because they are scared. I really believe that one day the change will happen.