Queer pride and protest: A reading of the bodies at Uganda's first gay beach pride.
How does one read the gendered bodies on display at a queer pride event in any context? In this article, I give my interpretation of the actions of celebrants and protesters who participated in Uganda’s first Beach Pride activities held in August 2012 at the botanical gardens on the shores of Lake Victoria. By briefly describing the commingling of gender conformers, gender benders, and gender blenders—from the protest to their arrest and eventual release—I read the meanings of this moment of queer protests in a danger zone. I juxtapose the beautiful, brazen bodies on colorful display during this carnivalesque queer spectacle with a discussion of Ugandan nationhood as it is cast in a visual bodily register that is widely imagined as a beautiful black, African heterosexual body. While the Beach Pride activities and the release of all marchers from the police station signify optimism for LGBTIQ rights in this African country, the context of criminalization that was encapsulated by the police raid and arrest of queer civilians, as well as the continued existence of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in our parliament—and the recent passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Act (2014) by our members of parliament and the president—still pose significant challenges to the full actualization of this optimism. Clearly, more work needs to be done.