David Kato Kisule: “A luta continua…” / “The struggle continues…”

Joseph Ross

For David Kato:  a Love Poem



Because my kisses are tender

against your throat.


Because my lips are not the steel hammer

that snaps your neck


in the places God has kissed.

Because my hands beg

the muscles of your back


pleading and massaging

what a blind man with a Bible

would shove to the floor.


Because your tongue slides

against mine, two wet bodies


inside our bodies, as close

as lips, as torn skin, as flame.


Because you dared to breathe

air you would later gasp against


my sweating chest, our bodies

lie braided in love’s water.


Because truth is only intimate

with other truths,


this love poem does not lie

on the floor of your living room


where you leak like a true man,

irrigating the Ugandan dirt

with blood it does not deserve.




David Kato Kisule (1964 -2011) was a Ugandan teacher who became a gay and lesbian human-rights activist ten years ago. In 2010 he gave up his teaching job to focus on Rights work 100 percent.  In October of the same year, “Rolling Stone”, a Ugandan tabloid newspaper, printed an inflammatory article accusing gays of “recruiting” children, and it published names, photographs and even some addresses of 100 Ugandan “Homos”, calling for their execution – “Hang them!”  The Ugandan government recently had tabled The Anti-Homosexual Bill, encouraged by Ugandan Evangelical Christians and their American allies abroad.  The bill is draconian and includes the death-penalty for “aggravated homosexuality” or 14 years imprisonment for “the offence of homosexuality”.  Kato’s murder in January 2011 brought international media attention to the situation in Uganda for sexual minorities and passage of The Anti-Homosexual Bill has been stalled.  U.S. President Barack Obama stated:  “David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom.”


Lesbian poet Audre Lorde once wrote:  “When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”   David Kato could’ve been afraid and he might’ve left Uganda for countries where life is easier — given the danger he was under.  But he stayed.  He was Ugandan,  he was Kuchu (Ugandan derogatory slang for Gay);   he knew where he was from and to whom he belonged.


Joseph Ross is a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet whose poems have appeared in many anthologies, including “Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion and Spirituality”.  He is Director of the Writing Center at Carroll High School in Washington, D.C., USA.

Faces and places: Canadian Gay heroes sung and unsung

For information about each photograph, allow your cursor to hover over the image.