My life experience as an LGBTQ clergy
Testimony of Rev. Wenceslaus Tumuhimbise, Uganda
I am Rev. Wenceslaus Tumuhimbise, 43 year old from Uganda. I belong to the Ecumenical Orthodox – Catholic Church ( EOCC ) overseeing 13 parishes in Uganda and Tanzania. I was born and formed by the Roman Catholic Church. I am a trained missionary priest formed by the Religious Congregation of Apostles of Jesus Missionaries for Africa and the World right from the minor seminary to major seminary.
I realized that I was gay at the age of 13, back then I lived with my grandparents 150km from my parents and this helped to hide my sexuality from my parents.
While in the major seminary I came into contact with an Italian priest who was our spiritual director . I shared with him about my sexuality though as a Roman Catholic Seminarian I was to embrace celibacy. That priest encouraged me and assured me support since he was also a gay priest. However, while in 3rd year of my Theological studies, before admission to final profession and taking final vows, I was dropped because there were rumours that I was gay. This is how I left the Seminary and Roman Catholic Church.
A year after, I applied to Greek Orthodox Church of Uganda but because of discrimination I could not be admitted since I had come out as gay. This made me to join an independent non canonical Orthodox Church and eventually ordained a priest. This Ecumenical Orthodox Catholic Church was homophobic but because I was tipped by a friend, I was able to live my sexuality in hiding until when I was consecrated a bishop. Moved by Paul’s words ” There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus ” Galatians 3:28, I took my stand and started challenging my Archbishop who is homophobic. I encouraged him to allow admission of LGBT+ persons to Holy Orders and told him that they carry special gifts and ministries to the Church. Because of this I fell out with him and he connived with security agencies and forced me into exile in Nigeria. But this gave me extra strength to start coordinating with other members of my group to push for our rights. My brother priest spearheaded for negotiations for my return to Uganda. Consequently I returned to Uganda and started my independent ministry which is also facing homophobic challenges and lack of financing but I thank God that we still stand and believe that all will be well. We trust in God and ask for your prayers.