Deeply moving, Call Me Kuchu takes you on an emotional journey through the life of the very first man to be openly gay in Uganda, David Kato, and his battle to stop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill – which Ugandan MP David Bahati introduced on the claim that: “[homosexuality] is un-African because it is inconsistent with African values, of procreation and the belief in the continuity of family and clan.”
Also centring on the lives of other courageous “kuchus” of Kampala, Naome and Stosh, the film tells their stories as they struggle to find peace and live safely in their hostile and extremely homophobic environment. Naome, a human rights activist, bravely opens up about her realisation that she could not continue living in denial of her identity, although she still has not come out to many as she continues to fear attack. Stosh courageously tells her heartbreaking story of how she became a victim of corrective rape, and tries to come to terms with being HIV-positive as a result. Their tales are a sad and hard-hitting contrast with the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in several US states.
Most shocking, however, was an interview with the editor of The Rolling Stone, Giles Muhame, who laughed and showed no remorse when questioned about his decision to publish headlines such as ‘HOMO TERROR.’ He was also responsible for using undercover journalists that pretended to befriend people in the local gay community, before publishing 100 names and photographs of allegedly gay citizens, in a name-and-shame article series. In regards to the threat of being stoned or attacked in the street to LGBTs his newspaper had outed, Muhame said the violence was sometimes ‘justifiable’ and that gay rights cannot be considered human rights.
Whilst it is clear that religion and the state are undeniably responsible for encouraging the rife homophobia still sweeping through Uganda, as same-sex marriage legalisation is on the cards for the UK, inspirational Bishop Christophe Senyonjo shows that not all religious figures are backing this discrimination. His claim in the words of St Paul that “we are all one,” and welcoming of LGBT Christians into his Church is both fearless and refreshing.
Sadly, what did not come as so much of a surprise, was that David Kato’s life was ended in a horrifically, brutal attack in his own home. His tragic death, and this film alike, has sent shock waves around the world, resulting in rising international pressure on Uganda to align with global LGBT rights progress. Kato’s defiance is tragically inspirational, and shows just how easily our freedom is taken for granted in a country whose laws do not discriminate purely on sexuality, where we have the freedom to be who we are.