For well over a decade, Val Kalende was an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights in Uganda, a nation where homosexuality can be punished with life in prison. This is, after all, where the infamous “kill the gays” bill originated.
Kalende spoke out against that bill in the Huffington Post while she was a fellow with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Years before that, she allowed a newspaper to feature her in an article about the dangers of being a lesbian in that nation. Newsweek followed that up with a separate profile of her bravery.
The point is: She was the sort of LGBTQ person who risked a lot as an advocate. A lot of LGBTQ people looked up to her.
On Sunday, however, Kalende spoke on a live broadcast for Christian channel Salt TV, with Pastor Aloysius Bugingo (a troubling man in his own right), and told the world she was no longer a lesbian. She had turned straight.
Her speech isn’t in English, so we’re working off news reports here. But before the anti-LGBTQ groups celebrate her conversion as proof that people can change their sexual orientation, take a look at some excerpts of her speech.
It really seems like she lost everything due to her advocacy and knew that “turning straight” was the only way she could be with her family again.
“I was born in Kansanga and have relatives in Kyebando. I joined lesbianism right after Makerere University. I’m born of Christian parents. All of them cut their ties with me for being gay. I became an orphan,” she narrated.
“Right now, I have no peace of mind. I sometimes break down and cry wondering why am like this. I’m now back home and have been saved.”
She says gays make one believe one is loved and in the end break one away from friends and family.
Did she get “saved” to be with her family again or because she genuinely underwent some sort of conversion? I can’t say for sure, but those words certainly suggest a life that was lonely and depressing. We shouldn’t rule out the possibility that she made this announcement due to social pressure rather than a sincere change of heart.
Her Facebook page also includes weird cryptic messages like “Transformed By God’s Love (TBGL)
#overcomer #changed #freedommarch #NoConversionTherapy #MyChoice”:
For someone who was eloquent and outspoken for years, that’s… a strangely abrupt message. So are many of her other recent posts, mostly images with Bible verses on them.
I hope she’s happy. Really. But Christian groups pointing to Kalende as an example of a gay person who “changed her mind” should also realize there may be far more beneath the surface than she’s letting on.
(Thanks to Manny for the link)