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Out and Proud Swimmers in Uganda

Uganda

This year the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) Board, in conjunction with a fellow swimmer Nate Freeman, is proud to bring five LGBT Ugandan swimmers to IGLA 2016 in Edmonton, Canada. The idea is to give the Ugandans an opportunity to interact with other LGBT athletes from around the world and to speak about LGBT issues in their home country. Several of the swimmers are LGBT rights activists.

The Uganda Kuchus Aquatic Team (UKAT) was founded in 2016 as an effort to increase opportunities for LGBT athletes in Kampala and provide a safe space where anyone can learn how to swim competitively regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. The team has been inspired by the chance for some of its members to attend the IGLA championship in Edmonton, Canada to be held August 8-14, 2016. This opportunity has been made possible by generous support from the IGLA Board who pledged up to $6,000, Edmonton’s Making Waves Aquatic Club who has waived the registration fees and secured housing, DC Aquatic Club (DCAC) who is serving as a pass-through on donations raised, generous donations from members of the Liquid Assets New England Swimming (LANES), and from the aid of additional swim teams across the US and Canada—especially DCAC, Tsunami, and TNYA. The five swimmers who will attend the championship were granted visas by the Canadian government, who has demonstrated an openness and commitment to supporting LGBT rights across the world. MP Randy Boissonnault, from Edmonton, was especially helpful in recommending that the swimmers be allowed to attend the competition.

The five UKAT swimmers, who will compete in Edmonton, include Diane Bakuraira, who is an administrative officer at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), one of the longest running Ugandan organizations that focuses on LGBT rights. Diane swam with the Ugandan national team when she was younger, but as a gender non-conforming person she (who also uses the pronoun he) was increasingly denied opportunities to compete.

Clare Byarugaba has spoken out against the government’s stance on LGBT issues. She was a co-coordinator of the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, a group that was instrumental in overturning the Anti-Homosexuality Act, a law that was passed in 2014 that provided life sentences for homosexuality and criminalized any activism around this issue.  Clare currently works with Chapter Four Uganda, a legal organization that protects civil liberties.  She has visited Canada previously as an activist and is eager to travel there as an athlete as well.

Both Sadat Kinene and Phiona Katiiti, who goes by the name Adebayo, are physical trainers. They have both worked at health clubs and as educators at schools and became friends through this work. Adebayo is also an active footballer and was named Mr. Pride Uganda in 2015. They are both excited to add competitive swimming to their list of activities and achievements.

The newest member of the team, Deb Muganzi, works with Icebreakers Uganda, another well-established activist group for LGBT people. She is a singer and musician, performing with the Talented Ugandan Kuchus, an LGBT band that is popular in Kampala (“kuchu” is the slang word commonly used by members of Uganda’s LGBT community to describe themselves). Deb is thrilled to be in the pool and can’t wait to meet everyone in Canada.

The team is coached by Delores Martinez, an internationally certified swim instructor who is originally from Colorado and has been living in Uganda with her daughter Bella for many years. Delores will not accompany UKAT to Canada, but will stay in Kampala to work with the growing number of swimmers that the team has attracted since its initial practices several months ago.

The team was coordinated by Nate Freeman, a human rights lawyer and activist from the United States who has been in Uganda since January 2016 working with the Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF).  In 2015, Nate founded the Out in Africa Ride organization and rode his bicycle from Cairo to Cape Town to raise money for LGBT groups, including HRAPF, along the route. He’s excited to support the athletic community in Kampala and hopes that the chance to send a Ugandan team to the IGLA championships this year will be the first of many more opportunities for LGBT athletes in Uganda.

If you are interested in supporting this initiative, you can make a tax-deductible contribution to DCAC via the PayPal link below. DCAC will send the funds to IGLA which will help defray the costs of airfare and meals. Please contact the DCAC Treasurer (treasurer@swimdcac.org) if you have questions.

For some background on HRAPF and challenges facing LGBT athletes in Uganda, check out this article by DCAC’s own Kevin Majoros.

We hope you can support this worthy initiative!






IGLA WETNOTES July 2016: Upcoming Edmonton 2016 Championships

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IN THIS ISSUE: 
  • IGLA 2016 Registration Closes July 15!
  • Friday Night Heaven & Hell Party featuring DJ Kitty Glitter
  • Chad Michaels of RuPaul’s Drag Race at Closing
    Party!
  • IGLA 2016 Hosted Dinners, Party & Events Schedule
  • Edmonton Flight Discounts
  • Pink Flamingo Theme: Burlesque, Eh?
  • Rick Meier-Windes Memorial Distance Swimming Award Profiles

IGLA 2016 Registration Closes July 15!
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Now is the time to register for IGLA 2016 Edmonton! Nearly 400 swimmers, divers, and synchro swimmers, and ten water polo teams have already registered for the competition to be held August 9-14, 2016. So far, athletes from eight
countries
have registered. The Sydney Stingers water polo team is sending two teams, and three swimmers from New Zealand are also making the long trip North! Way to go!
The five teams with the most registrations thus far are TNYA (Team New York Aquatics), WH2O (West Hollywood Aquatics), Long Beach Grunions, San Francisco Tsunami Aquatics, and DCAC (District of Columbia Aquatics Club). It’s not too late to get in
the race! Looking forward to seeing you in Edmonton!

DJ Kitty Glitter Spins at Heaven & Hell on Friday Night
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Naughty or Nice? Doesn’t matter! Dance to the beats of DJ Kitty Glitter and Deko-ze at Heaven & Hell, Friday night’s party at BLVD.

Closing Party Featuring Chad Michaels as Cher!
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RuPaul’s Drag Race Allstars Winner Chad Michaels will perform at Saturday night’s closing party—Pure AQUA—at the Starlite Room! Make sure you’re there at 9pm
sharp!

Happy Hours, Hosted Dinners, and Parties!

Mix and mingle out of the water! IGLA 2016 offers a week of fun events. Relax at the happy hours after your hard swims. And check out hosted dinners, which are returning this year! What better way to get to know locals and fellow athletes. Did we mention there is a beer garden during and after the
water polo final game
(yes you can have a beer and watch the game). Get to know your fellow athletes while you enjoy Edmonton. Click below for details and links to the Facebook event pages.

Book Your Edmonton Flights Yet?
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Check out our flight discounts! Book your Edmonton flights today!

Pink Flamingo Theme: Burlesque, Eh!
 

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Pink Flamingo made its debut during the 1989 IGLA Championships in Vancouver, BC, and it has become a favorite annual tradition. The event, a queer follies extravaganza, features campy, drag-inspired routines in and out of the water, performed by swimmers, synchro, divers, and polo players.
This year’s theme—Burlesque, Eh!celebrates Edmonton’s thriving and entertaining burlesque scene.  Get your music, choreography, and costume ideas flowing. And don’t forget to throw a little va-va-va-voom into the mix!

Rick Meier-Windes Memorial Distance Swimming Awards at EuroGames/IGLA 2015
 

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The William R. (Rick) Meier-Windes Memorial Distance Swimming Award was established jointly in 2004 by the San Francisco Tsunami Aquatics and IGLA in order to recognize the overall best male and female distance swimmers in the three longest freestyle events offered at each IGLA Championship meet.
This distinctive award features an “official’s bell” that is used to signal the last lap of a distance race at a swimming competition. It is engraved with the winner’s name, the year presented, as well as the name of the award.
Last year’s awards were given to Kris Estrada of San Francisco Tsunami and André Nussbaumer of Gay Sport Zürich. Kris swam the 400 in 5:07.31, the 800 in 10:37.19, and the 1500
in 20:44.47. André swam the 400 in 4:46.00, the 800 in 10:03.18, and the 1500 in 19:15.03. Congratulations to both of you! We are looking forward to seeing more great distance swims this year in Edmonton!

Letter to U.S. Masters Swimming concerning Spring Nationals in Greensboro, NC

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The IGLA Board recently sent a communication to USMS concerning the Spring National champions being held in North Carolina given the passage of the HB2 legislation (which requires transgender persons to use the bathroom of their birth sex).

Below are copies of our letter and USMS’ response:

IGLA Letter to USMS
USMS – IGLA re NC HB2