Outrageous freedom

When I met John Abdallah Wambere, known by his gay activist nom de guerre Longjones, my first thought was: ‘Will that shirt get him killed someday?’ We had arranged lunch at Fang Fang, an upscale Chinese joint in Kampala, Uganda, and I’d wondered whether I would recognise him. Then he walked in and even my (often unreliable) gaydar pinged immediately. He had a certain out-and-proud swagger, and his rainbow bracelets and pride jewellery rustled and clicked as he walked. He was indeed long, topping out at nearly two metres, not counting the unpruned stalks of dreadlock growing out of his head. And the shirt. Bright purple, hanging like a bright gay sail on the dark mast of his frame, it seemed to propel him forward with the breeze.

He cut quite a different figure from the one you might expect to find in ‘the world’s worst place to be gay’, as a BBC documentary described Uganda in 2011.

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