Kuchu Activism, Queer Sex-work and "Lavender Marriages," in Uganda's Virtual LGBT Safe(r) Spaces
This article builds on Michael Warner's theory of "damaged publicness" to examine virtual queer counterpublics in Uganda. Online spaces have become a viable platform for LGBT Ugandans, locally known as kuchus, to network, organize and gain visibility. Gay "hook-up" apps, like Grindr, Scruff, and online chatrooms such as Planet Romeo provide opportunities for users to express what often cannot be expressed in public. I investigate these virtual LGBT counterpublics ethnographically through fieldwork in Kampala from June 2015 to June 2016. I argue that Uganda's virtual queer spaces, however "private" or "public" are counterpublics, a form of space ownership bringing legitimacy to the being of "deviant" and utilized to meet specific social, cultural and economic needs.