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Dear Uganda, it's not that I don't care anymore.

It was with a heavy heart that I chose not to renew the website I created three years ago on New Year's Eve, "UgandaUrgentAction.com." It's time for quiet diplomacy and prayer.

Original Website, January 3, 2011


How it looked on Dec. 17, 2012

Earlier that December 31, 2010 I read a blog post by my friend Kathy Baldock titled: "Genocide brewing in Uganda." It dealt with the infamous "Kill the Gays Bill" that was being debated in Uganda's Parliament and its passage seemed eminent. It upset me deeply and I decided to write an open letter to all 287 members of parliament, the President, the Prime Minister, and both the Cabinet and the shadow cabinet.

Then I got the idea to create the website to promote a letter writing campaign. I enlisted a friend who is a copy writer to come up with three letters people could choose from and while I waited for the domain to go live, I got busy creating the page. Once it was up and running and all the links seemed to be working, I then sent an email to every person on my contact list and asked them to take five minutes to send a letter.

Being New Year's Eve, I did not know how many people would be checking their email, especially since January 1 landed on Saturday and I figured it would be Monday before anyone saw my email. I was pleasantly surprised to get about a dozen responses from friends who acted on the request. Then on Monday evening, I got a most surprising email, it was from a young lawyer who worked as an aide in the Office of Presidential Affairs. The short email explained that he had been tasked to find out who was behind the letter-writing campaign because their inboxes were getting filled with letters from all over the world. 

I was pretty candid and transparent with my motives, so it was not difficult for the Ugandan IT people to find me. I have to admit, I was pretty naive. As a journalist said to me a few weeks later, I had jumped into a snake pit.

Most significant about this email, however, was that this person came out to me as being transgender and wanted to correspond with me for support. This young lawyer would eventually be discovered, arrested and tortured, and accused of treason for the many emails I received with sensitive information on the progress of the aforementioned bill. After release from prison, my new friend had to flee to Kenya, where the American Embassy was able to help. You can read that story here.

Sadly, though the original bill which included the death penalty for "aggravated homosexual" offenses was stalled in Parliament until earlier this month, December 2013, a version of the bill was finally passed. It not only criminalizes homosexual acts, it also makes it illegal to organize or offer support of to Uganda's sexual minorities. International pressure was ultimately not enough to prevent this step backward, and what is really sad is how it was largely the influence of American fundamentalists who are to blame. They have exported a gospel of hatred and judgement, and for this, I am sad and frustrated.

I would like to think there is hope. Change may not come as quickly as we hope, but perhaps winning the hearts of Uganda's leaders will be a one person at a time endeavor. Let me share one email exchange I had with an initially irate Ugandan MP. The message stream ends in a surprising way, and this is what gives me hope. 

The MP's messages are in bold green italics; I have removed the MP's name for protection.


Lisa,

You and your human rights can hang and still go to hell! You are the people spoiling our good children! Don't ever send me such useless mails. I wish I knew you personally I would hand you over to the nearest police! Don't lecture me on Legislation! I know where to get them when I need one!

MP Name


Dear MP Name
You certainly don't mince words.

Your response is disturbing on many levels. Never mind that your background as an educator should help you to consider issues with a much broader perspective instead of insulating yourself in hateful dogma. Do you not even pause to consider why the United Nations Human Rights Council's declaration with respect to the protection of GLBT persons is so diametrically different from the Ugandan position? Shouldn't you as a member of the Committee on Equal Opportunities be at least willing to invest some of your intelligence on educating yourself about this?

Contrary to your comment, If you knew me personally, you would not have been as vile in your homophobic response. I invite you to read my story which was just published last month. I have nothing to hide from you or your government, which, by the way, has me black listed as a foreign "thorn in the flesh." You need to know that what motivates me to stand up and encourage others to send their emails to you and your colleagues is my conviction that Jesus would never have said to those he came to save that he "would hand them over to the nearest police!"

Please read my book, here is a copy you can read on your computer. ( I would
send you a copy but the postage costs too much.) Link to book.

I look forward to your response.

Peace,
Lisa Salazar,


Lisa,

I took long to read your mail so could not reply.

Opened this one today from Paris and was surprise that you still carry that vengeful tone in your mode of communication, by the way, you are not even about to change my line of argument! I hope you were keen to also follow that the Bill is back in full swing to the House, you can continue abusing my little intellect in reading between the lines, but this academic dwarf taught some 3000 children, some of whom have got jobs! Her little knowledge has also made the people of her Constituency re-elect her to Parliament a second time, we better cease fire otherwise we risk fighting on the streets when we meet, I was told the whites have courtesy where the blacks are found to lack!

What is the difference in our case??????????????????????????????????????????

MP Name
Uganda


Dear MP Name

Maybe you should re-read the email you sent me on August 1. I think you have forgotten who the vengeful person in this discussion is. And while you bask in the city of Paris at you government's expense, look around and see if there are any gays you can get the police to arrest and see how far you get with your accusations. That you have a predisposition for violence is also not lost on me by you comment about "fighting on the streets when we meet" and that saddens me.

Lisa Salazar

Hi Lisa,

I had a nice weekend, at least I moved around to the Eifel Tower but never met any gays on the streets, which to me looked good, most of the couples were men and women, not the type you cherish.

By the way, I can pay for myself to Paris without relying on the tax payers to cater for my expenses! Neither do I want to be sponsored by the bloody moneys of the gays whom I hear have a lot of dime to splash around to whoever is needy. On the streets of Paris, I have International immunity; you can not even touch me, try, not even in the US! I have been there over 10 times, does that seem to hurt you, You need ove 10 decades to sow the gays gospel!

On the streets of Paris, I could see many old men, rolling their spouses on wheelchairs to show them the beauty of the world as a cross sex couple, not single sex, you know, by the way are you married? My husband is (Name), we have X children, and you? I am interested.
MP Name
Uganda 

NOTE: You can scroll down to the next green block of type if you don't want to read my long reply! 

MP Name, 
I would be pleased to tell you about my family.

I met my wife at a Bible Study at the age of 21, she was 20. At that time, I was in my third year of university at San Jose State University in California; and she worked as an assistant to an oral surgeon. I got to know her a little better when in the Summer of 1972 I attended a Campus Crusade for Christ youth conference in Dallas, Texas, where she was from. I got to stay at her father's apartment and she stayed with her sister. I moved to  Canada the next year to start a graphic design business with my older brother who lived in Vancouver.

My relationship with her had been platonic and we never dated or had any romantic feelings at least none that we ever expressed to each other. But it didn't take long after arriving in Vancouver for me to realize how much I missed her, and how much I thought about her. The problem was I also realized I had no idea how she felt about me; for all I knew, she cared nothing about me.

To make a long story short, as we corresponded, we learned our true feelings for each other and we were married in October 1974. One more detail, when we met, we were both relatively new in our Christian faith. We both were very conservative and orthodox with respect to our views on pre-marital sex, marriage, sexuality, etc. I had come to faith in Jesus believing that He was going to make me normal and heal my self image. From my earliest memories, as young as three years old, I had experienced what I can only describe as a disconnection to my body. I didn't have the language or the understanding to express this to my parents, but I knew there was something amiss. As I grew older, this tension became more confusing to me and more perplexing. The few times I formulated a question in an attempt to get clarity, I quickly learned it would be better if I kept this confusion to myself. I learned at to hide by overcompensating and learning to act as normal as possible. I emulated my older brother and he became my role model. As a boy I never played with dolls or dressed like a girl, nor did I ever think to myself that I wanted to be a girl. But the odd thing to me, which only added to my disorientation was that I never felt like a boy either.

Puberty was a traumatic time for me. I experienced a growing sense of revulsion, disgust with the changes taking place in my body. I had more questions than answers and it was becoming apparent to me that I knew more what I wasn't than what I was. I just knew I was different. That is why, when I began to ponder the words of Jesus, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest," that I came to believe that He was going to make me "normal." Consequently, when I found myself falling in love with the young woman who became my dear wife, I saw this as the beginning of God answering my prayer. It motivated me to be the best husband I could possibly be, and when our first son was born in April of 1976, it also motivated me to be the best father I could possibly be. 

I really wanted this to be true, for my wife's sake and for my son's sake. But I had to confess to my wife a few short months after our second son was born that I had a problem. I told her all about my sense of disconnection with my sex and how inadequate I felt as a man. I told her how I was trying my hardest to make these feelings go away and how I prayed to God for help but things were getting worse, rather than better. I was constantly feeling defeated as a Christian and felt guilty because I didn't have the faith to overcome the enemy. I saw my struggle as a spiritual battle and I pleaded with her to stand with me and help me fight this war I was in. The news was absolutely devastating to her, yet, she vowed to stand with me and to support me as my wife. We believed that together we would be able to overcome the relentless enemy through prayer and supplication.

MP Name, I wish I could tell you that God performed a miracle in my life and that with my wife's love and support I was finally able to be a normal male. I say I wish because the last thing I wanted to do was hurt my marriage and the most important people in my life—my wife and our three sons. When our youngest son was sixteen years old, our middle son twenty and the oldest was twenty-three, I finally sought professional help at the Vancouver General Hospital's gender clinic. I underwent an extensive psychological assessment over a six month period and at that end I was given a diagnosis of gender dysphoria. I was told I was a transsexual. The diagnosis was both a blessing and a curse. It was a blessing because I finally had an explanation that made sense of all my turmoil and provided a remedy. But it was a curse because it meant this issue was never going to go away, I was never going to be a "normal male" and worst yet, the remedy they offered was not something I was prepared to take... to undergo sex reassignment surgery after having lived successfully as a woman for at least twelve months. No way, no how. I could not even contemplate doing this because it the price was too high, and I don't mean money-wise.

Transitioning from male to female, I feared, would be the end of my life. I just wanted to die. I beg God to just take me and make all this go away. I became obsessed with death, for I saw it was the answer to my problems. If I were to die in a car accident or some other calamity, then no one except my wife, pastor, and doctors would ever have to know how messed up I really was. Additionally, my wife would get insurance money and best of all, she would be spared seeing her husband become a woman.

The issue was settled in my mind. I was going to have to bear this terrible cross and with God's help and through his grace simply take it to the grave with me. I would continue role playing and pretending to be this model citizen, husband and father I had become and continue to die to myself daily.

One other thing, I still had a very conservative Christian view of sexuality and I could not reconcile the diagnosis to my faith. WHo was right in all of this and who should I be listening to, the doctors, or God? But then, as I was unraveling from the inside, I began to fear having a complete mental collapse. In September of 2007 I called the gender clinic to ask for help. Almost nine years since I had been diagnosed. By this time, I was coming to a new understanding what the Bible really said and not said about sexuality. The passage that most impacted me was Jesus' discussion about eunuchs, as recorded in Matthew 19:12. Somehow God began to show me how much he loved me and I finally came to a point in my relationship with Him when I finally had peace about who and what I was.
To summarize the last four years, in the interest of brevity, this is how things have turned out:
  • October 2007, began to disclose to family and friends there were going to be changes coming and why Started taking medicines to feminize my body (testosterone blockers and low doses of female hormones) As my body slowly began to show the effects of the medications, I finally came out to my elderly parents and our now adult sons. I had postponed doing this because my wife insisted I delay it as long as possible. 
  • In July 2008, I began to live full time as a woman
  • In July 2009, having successfully completed the one year test, I was approved for the final psychological assessment prior to undergoing the operation. 
  • In December of 2009 I received the letter from the provincial health ministry authorizing my surgery 
  • On March 30, 2010 I underwent gender reassignment surgery in Montreal 
  • On June 2010, my wife and I separated 
  • In September 2011 we filed for divorce 
I can assure you that the choices I had to make to survive are not the choices I wanted to make. To claim or insist that I made a life-style choice simply to satisfy a perversion would be a complete insult and disregard for the struggles my wife and I have endured. The one and only regret I have for what I have done is that I hurt my very best friend, my wife, and broke her heart. My love for her is deeper today than ever, but I also understand how staying married to me was too difficult for her. My prayer now is that divorce will somehow salvage our friendship and that as time goes by, she will be able to do things with me, such as going out for dinner or a movie;  or more simply, a walk in the forest or near the ocean. For now, we will continue to see each other at family events (birthdays, Christmas, Easter, etc.). We now have two little granddaughters and they have become my wife's focus.

MP Name, accuse me of being wrong all you want. Jesus does not accuse me and that is what matters most to me. God has been at work in my life and I have never felt as close to Him as I do right now. If you could only read all the letters I get from people from all over the world who have been encouraged by my story and how much they themselves have suffered, you would perhaps have a more open mind.

Respectfully yours,
Lisa

Lisa,

I REST MY CASE, I WILL NOT ARGUE WITH YOU ANYMORE. YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND NOW.
I UNDERSTAND YOU NOW, MORE THAN DID BEFORE. SAD STORY, EEEH! I AM ALL REMORSEFUL NOW. YOUR CASE IS AN EXCEPTIONAL ONE. 

GOD BLESS YOU, LISA.CONTEMPLATED WRITING A BOOK ABOUT THIS? IT WOULD BE ------
HAVE A NICE TIME. I NOW WRITE TO YOU AS A FRIEND.
I QUALIFY TO BE YOUR DAUGHTER.

I SHOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THAT HARSH ON YOU.

I AM, BUT A BORN OF THE 70'S.


MP Name
Uganda


MP Name,

You are in my prayers as you return to your beautiful country. 

I too look forward to an on-going correspondence and friendship with you.

Lisa 


Hi Lisa,

I hope you had a good day, mine was stressful, for I had to sit in long meetings and the whether here has changed so considerably!

It was nice reading from you once again, my newly found friend!

I will be able to go through your mails once again once I go back home.

Tomorrow will be a difficult day for me for I will be preparing to wind up and set all to go back home, I pledge to continue writing to you and answering some of your concerns,

With love,

MP Name
Uganda

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