Did she jump or was she pushed into joining Uganda’s influential evangelical movement?
That’s the question shocked lesbians and gays in godly Uganda are asking themselves after a glum Val Kalende – a former journalist well known for promoting gay rights – announced last week at a religious rally that she had found Jesus – and claimed she had been lured into homosexuality by Satan.
Many believe that she had been pressurised into throwing her lot in with Uganda’s viciously-anti gay evangelicals,
One is Frank Mugisha, a friend of Kalende and the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda. He told told PinkNews:
The news is shocking to me and many of my colleagues. I am very much worried about her.
He had not been able to speak to her since her declaration.
Longtime Ugandan activist Kikonyogo Kivumbi revealed in this report that Kalenda has renounced her “lesbianism” and activism, and is set to wed a man in church “soon.”
In the past, Kalende fought hard along with activist David Kato (RIP) in 2009, battling against the now-annulled infamous Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Law at home and abroad.
But now she has told a gathering of evangelical Christians and live on television in Kampala that she is no longer gay. (See also “Popular Ugandan LGBT activist says she’s no longer a lesbian.”)
She asserts in her social media posts after the renunciation that God’s initial plan was for a man to be married to a woman, or vice versa. She hinted at Pastor Bugingo’s Church that some members of the LGBTI community in Uganda wanted to harm her, and had to choose to make her move out of activism public.
It is not the first time a member of the Ugandan LGBTI community has renounced activism and joined the evangelical Christianity movement. In 2009 prominent Ugandan gay activist George Oundo caused a stir when he gave media interviews claiming that homosexuals recruit children into homosexuality. His carefully planned allegations fueled anti-gay hatred.
Evangelical Christians soon brought forth a private members bill, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which was tabled in Parliament by MP David Bahati. In its early, extreme version, it was known as the “Kill the Gays” Bill.
Oundo later fell out with evangelical Christians, claiming in the media that he wasn’t paid all his money and a house he was promised before making his allegations. He asked the LGBTI community to take him back, but had no success, and has since gone back to the evangelicals and has stayed silent.
Some activists took to social media to express shock, anger, resentment and sadness at Val’s decision. Other activists have however sympathized with Val’s action, saying there is no clear support mechanism for activists suffering depression and burnout after having worked for year’s in the highly hostile and stressful environment of Uganda.
One activist commented about the incident on social media:
It’s an attempt to want society to take you back. It’s too lonely being an activist and poor.
I saw her video clip [Kalende’s renunciation]. She is not all right. She looks sad and depressed. She needs help.
Right wing religious website, Life Site, quoted her as saying:
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. I became rebellious. We always wondered why the world forced us to become girls who do not love men […] 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.
In an August 1 Facebook post, Kalende wrote:
We have only one life. The greatest tragedy is to waste it by living contrary to God’s design and will. This was the most powerful awareness leading to my conversion.