Mr Leather explains outreach visit to Uganda
Patrick Smith – the current International Mr. Leather – has explained why he recently decided to visit the infamously homophobic country.
Patrick Smith – the winner of International Mr. Leather 2015 and Senior Manager of Business Development for Marvel Studios – has just returned from an LGBT outreach project in Uganda.
He recently discussed the motives behind his trip and why he wants to use his new title to help those less fortunate.
“I always said that as International Mr. Leather, I would go to places in the world not just with established leather communities, but to places where LGBT people still exist on the fringes of society.”
He said he wanted to use his position to “raise awareness of the persecution of gays and lesbians in other parts of the world.”
“We may have it pretty good in the US, but the situation is so bleak in so many other places.”
The country’s harsh Anti-Homosexuality Act – known worldwide as the “Kill the Gays” bill – was found to have been illegally passed by the Uganda’s Constitutional Court in August last year, and ruled invalid – yet homophobia still runs rife.
While there, Smith met with some of Uganda’s most prominent activists – including LGBT activist Dr. Frank Mugisha, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee – to learn about the daily lives of the Ugandan LGBT community and find out what more could be done to help them.
“He’s very warm, open, and candid,” he said of Mugisha – who recently spoke to PinkNews about the long road to acceptance in his country, as well as the need for more positive LGBT role models.
While Smith says he was inspired by people he met from the community, he said what affected him the most was seeing Uganda’s anti-gay laws carried out.
“The day I was leaving, news broke that Ugandan football manager Chris Mubiru was convicted under the country’s sodomy law, which carries with it an 18-year prison sentence.
“Actually being there in that country when the story broke felt much more different than reading it from afar.”
However, he says he is more determined than ever to help bring about change in the country – as well as others who operate harsh anti-gay laws.
“My experience in Uganda was life-changing.” Smith said.
“I look forward to returning to the US and telling the story of LGBT people in Africa, so that we can raise awareness and help their cause from abroad.”