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Brave and beautiful: Second annual Uganda Gay Pride celebration ‘still here, still going strong’

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Editor's Note: This story and photo were submitted by Erik Friedly, a gay American living in Uganda working in health communications. You can read an interview the GA Voice conducted with him last year by clicking here.

The second annual Ugandan Gay Pride celebration kicked off on July 31 and ran through Aug. 4, featuring film screenings, HIV counseling and testing, a parade, and, of course, plenty of partying.

Most of the events took place at the expansive Botanical Gardens in Entebbe, located about 45 minutes from the capital, Kampala. Because the Botanical Gardens stretch along the shores of Lake Victoria, the celebration took the name "Beach Pride Uganda 2013" with the theme "Still Here, Going Strong."

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Gay American living in Uganda opens up about its gay community and the ‘Kill the Gays Bill’

Erik Friedly, 47,  is an American citizen living in Kampala, Uganda, working in health communications. He has lived there for nearly a year and will live there for at least one more year if not longer. In an email interview with the GA Voice, Friedly discusses the LGBT community in Uganda and the impact the notorious "Kill the Gays Bill" has on the gay people living there. The bill is expected to be passed by the Parliament perhaps as soon as this week.

Are you openly gay to your colleagues? Do you have to be careful about who knows you are gay?

I am open to most of my American colleagues in the same way that I am at home in the U.S.; it just becomes apparent in getting to know each other and becoming friends. So, yes, most of them know, I think. I am not, however, open with my Ugandan colleagues in the same way. Some may suspect, of course, but I am not as open with them because of attitudes here which most — not all — people hold. But, for example, I am certain that my household staff must at least suspect what my orientation is but we obviously never discuss it.