Val Kalende, a well-known Ugandan LGBTI activist, has shocked her colleagues around the world by announcing that she is “no longer” a lesbian.
Kalende made the starling and bizarre proclamation on Sunday, on Uganda’s Salt TV Christian channel while talking to a crowd at an Evangelical prayer gathering. She also revealed that she would soon be getting married to a man.
The now allegedly former lesbian further made claims that other LGBTI activists wanted to kill her, although not explaining why.
Kalende is a journalist who has written for one of Uganda’s leading independent publications, the Daily Monitor. She regularly moved between Uganda, the United States and Canada, where she was eventually given asylum.
In the video posted on Salt TV’s Facebook page, Kalende asserted that she “joined lesbianism”after leaving university. She speaks for close to an hour, reflecting on her time and journey as a lesbian. “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 said.
She further claimed that Satan lured her into the “acts” of being a lesbian. “I became rebellious. We always wondered why the world forced us to become girls who do not love men. We were even arrested from a conference… We were detained at Central Police Station and even taken to court.”
However, she now claims that she has been saved through Christianity and that homosexuality is the reason why people lose their friends and families. “I’m now back home and have been saved,” she said.
As is already the case with the Salt TV video, Kalende’s “conversion” will no doubt continue to be used by Evangelists and others to dangerously assert that homosexuality is a choice or something that can be changed through prayer.
There has been much speculation about what led Kalende to make the choices she has now made. Some have blamed the stresses of being an activist with a limited support system as well as in-fighting and disagreements within the LGBTI activist community in Uganda.
Edwin Sesange, Director of the London-based African Equality Foundation, said he was shocked at Kalende’s announcement.
“Whatever led Val Kalende to that path, it is something that the Ugandan LGBTI movement has to explore, study, appreciate, accept and deal with in a sober and well-guided way,” he told Mambaonline in a statement.
Addressing his former colleague he said: “The fact is I heard you in the video, unfortunately am not in the position to judge. However, the biggest fact is: You are a hero and your work for the movement cannot be denied or scrapped. You will be missed. Above all you are loved.”
Colonial-era legislation criminalises gay sex in Uganda, allowing the courts to imprison anyone found guilty of homosexuality for life. LGBTI events are often banned or raided by the authorities.