On Apr 19, 2014 Huffington Post Gay Voices reported; A few weeks ago, I told the story of a teen named Corey who was driven from his birth home when his parents found out he was gay, and into the arms of a loving home that rescued him. His unique story was read widely and shared by tens of thousands of people. Sadly, the thing that made Corey’s story unique was not that it happened, but that it happened and he got rescued. Many other teens are expelled from their homes and quickly fall into drug abuse and prostitution.
A lucky few of them find help through homeless services and by a growing awareness that they exist and need help. Outside of the United States, rejection of such teens can produce a much harsher reality.
Meet Hakim. Hakim is every bit as engaging and fine a young man as Corey. Hakim is barely out of his teens. I am a dad, and I can’t help but feel he is one of my kids, our kids. As Harvey Milk told us, “Hope will never be silent.” I am speaking up. I will be speaking up.
Hakim is the third eldest son in his family, and was raised in a major city. Hakim knew he was gay from a very young age, “Thoughts came through my mind, that am cursed, maybe I wasn’t meant to be a human,” he told me. At different times in his adolescence, he attempted to poison himself. He never confessed his orientation to his family, instead, three things happened that prevented him from keeping his secret. The first, he fell in love. The second, he fell in love in Uganda. The third, he wrapped himself in the arms of the man he loved while staying at his parent’s house.
His aunt discovered the lovers. She immediately alerted his parents. Shocked and furious, the family meeting that ensued was not civil. His parents raged with shame and demanded he leave immediately, “That was the day I will never forget in my all life because it was the day I started suffering in this world up to now. Because my parents they were so angry with me, disappointed and they abandoned me and chased me away from home. I left with nothing and I had no choice.” His family had no concern for his safety or welfare, they simply wanted him removed from their sight. He was just 18 years old.
Hakim traveled to an uncle who, at least temporarily, was willing to look the other way on news that his nephew had same sex relations. Superstition was the demon that raised its head this time, as a series of bad events befell Hakim’s uncle, and he decided that the true source of the misfortune was having protected Hakim.
Hakim’s uncle was not satisfied in simply exorcising Hakim from his house. To him, in order to do it properly, he had to have Hakim arrested for the crime of homosexuality. Hakim recalls, “They took me into the jail for two months and they tortured me to a severe extent. They asked me to reveal other groups of gays and give them names. But I didn’t tell, and they continued the torture every day. They tortured me every after my first day there and they took one to two days without giving me food. They beat me and beat me to every part on my body, in fingers, on the ankles, while asking me the other gay groups. The next month they took me to the court because they were expected my uncle to come and give out the proof that I was gay.”
Fortunately, Hakim’s uncle did not show up in court. With their sole testimony against him gone, the authorities had to let Hakim go. He went to the streets.
His life since has been to survive in the slums, constantly on the run with other secretly gay and HIV positive individuals. “In this place I met gays who had suffered more than me and some even died of AIDS because of poor standards of living they were staying in. I really reached an extent of seeing that I had paid more than enough for being gay. Support groups came in and we reached out to them. They learned that most of our members lacked proper medication but these organizations little did they help us. They only came to us to make their documentation, reports to their donors, and making accountability reports as well,” he recalls.
As Hakim worked with the other gay people on the streets, he came in contact with several journalists. He found that many who came into Uganda to study the situation, or to write about it, left without giving any real help or comfort to the people suffering. The first were from France. They interviewed him and promised help in exchange for his story. One day, however, they returned to France, and Hakim never heard from them again. The next journalist with whom he came into contact was even worse. He shadowed Hakim and worked with him as he met with people in need on the street. His purpose was not as he stated however.
He did not write a story about the plight of gay people in the slums of Uganda—he instead allegedly constructed a list of “gays” and published them in the paper as part of a notorious “red list.” Hakim’s name was prominent on that list.
The Ugandan authorities are now seeking Hakim, as a “known gay.” He is one official confrontation away from going to jail, where through legal means or not, he is likely to be killed. Continued