KAMPALA — “Anyone who doesn’t believe God can change anyone has never met the true and living God of the Bible,” reads the Facebook intro of a former homosexual activist from Uganda who says that she has now renounced lesbianism as her heart has been changed by God.
Val Kalende was one of the earliest board members of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), which is considered the umbrella organization over several member homosexual activist efforts, such as Freedom & Roam Uganda and Icebreakers Uganda. She had been an outspoken representative for the movement, leaving her job as a journalist in 2007 to devote her time to the cause.
Kalende traveled to the United States on a number of occasions to attend conferences and speaking engagements, became a fellow at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and sought asylum in Canada in 2014 due to her opposition to a Ugandan law that criminalized sex acts between those of the same gender.
She wrote against the then-impending statute in an article published by The Huffington Post, calling for global solidarity to combat “homophobia” in Africa.
“As Ugandan LGBT activists, we remain steadfast in our resolve not to relinquish the fight. But, where is global solidarity for the rest of Africa’s LGBT rights struggle?” Kalende asked.
“The church in Africa has become a safety net for homophobia mainly because it is safer to bash gays with the Bible than it is to bash gays with politics,” she opined.
In 2012, SMUG sued Scott Lively, a pastor in Massachusetts, for “crimes against humanity” surrounding his public speech against homosexuality while visiting Uganda. The lawsuit alleged that Lively’s words had stirred government persecution of homosexuals.
“While religious fundamentalists in the West are now clutching at straws as laws against same-sex marriage are repealed, they are exporting their homophobic values to Africa,” Kalende wrote in an article likewise published by The Huffington Post.
“We have learned enough from Christian missionaries, such as … Scott Lively, to know that when Western conservative narratives are exported to Africa, African politicians see an opportunity to further criminalize same-sex persons.”
However, Kalende, who had been brought up in a Pentecostal family, continued wrestling with the issue and realized that “[t]he greatest tragedy is to waste [life] by living contrary to God’s design and will.” Last year, she walked away from the lesbianism she had been involved in since graduating from college.
She credits her turn-around to “the power of a praying family” and the power of Jesus Christ.
“How is it possible that this girl—raised in church, taught the way of God—could swing too far from the way she was brought up? I wrestled with this question for many years. I didn’t have answers. My rebellion had separated me from God,” she wrote in a social media post on Aug. 2.
Kalende said that, previously, her “heart was hardened” when reading the Scriptures pertaining to homosexuality and marriage, and she would ask herself why she had feelings for the same sex if God didn’t want her to be a lesbian.
Eventually, God’s love broke through and she came to terms with the truth. She knew she had to leave it all behind and walk toward “the new life God was offering” her.
“The enemy had a plan to divert and eventually destroy my identity,” she wrote. “… I wasn’t just an ordinary lesbian woman and gay activist. I was a mentor, leader and scholar. My contributions to the gay movement (though I think of them with deep regret) were not small.”
“Seeing how far God has brought me it makes sense now to believe God had His eyes on me,” Kalende said. “He waited on me. He preserved my womanhood. He never stopped loving me. He knew me by name. He never stopped calling me back to His purpose. What kind of LOVE is this that God would bring out someone so lost like me! I may not have all the answers, but one thing is true: I am LOVED.”
Kalende shared her testimony at church last month, which was broadcast on Salt TV. While she has received criticism for her story, as she says that some claim that she has been brainwashed, Kalende rejects the characterization, noting that she lives for an audience of One.
“The bio on my Facebook profile responds to everyone who doubts God,” she wrote. “God is still in the business of changing one life, 360 degrees.”
“Dear LGBT movement: I found life, truth and grace. My prayer is that you find the good life as I have. Y’all have become my reason for intercession,” Kalende recently proclaimed. “I know, from some of the messages I‘ve received so far, that the Holy Spirit has begun speaking to your hearts. He is the revealer of all truth.”
“To pastors I disagreed with, I am sorry. To politicians I violently fought in a war of words, I am sorry. To the old and young generation of this nation, I am sorry,” she continued. “To my FATHER and maker, I am sorry. To myself, I am sorry. I am at peace with my soul because I am forgiven and forever set free. Psalm 51:17.”
Ezekiel 36:26-27 reads, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them.”