In December 2013 I was in Kampala, Uganda, filming Cleopatra Kambugu, a Ugandan trans woman who has decided not to be quiet anymore. Back then we could move around freely; Cleo and her boyfriend Nelson could show their love openly. But only a couple of weeks later, all this changed. The now-infamous "anti-homosexuality law" was introduced, putting the country at the center of the world's attention and forcing Cleo and Nelson to live behind closed doors for over a month, with her mother coming in the nights with food and supplies. Eventually the law was revoked, but there are rumors of plans to introduce a new version of it this year.
Cleo and Nelson's love story shows a human side of trans people. It's an important story that can give new insights into the trans community, both in Uganda and abroad. It brings people close to the realities and emotions of being trans.
In the fourth episode of The Pearl of Africa, a documentary series about love, hate and being transgender, we get a glimpse into what Cleo and Nelson's relationship really means. They've loved each other since high school and plan to get married in the future, and Cleo grapples with the desire to start a family.
If you've missed previous episodes of The Pearl of Africa, you can find them here.
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