January 31, 2024

Why Are You Gay?

A meme is a cultural touchstone that becomes wildly popular in the short term but quickly loses steam. It’s a way to make light of serious issues, like toxic masculinity and homophobia. But making fun of these issues isn’t enough – we have to confront them head-on.

The “Why are you gay?” interview (also known as the “Why are you gay gae” meme) is based on a full video interview with Ugandan parliament member David Onziema that was originally broadcast in December 2012. It didn’t gain much traction at the time, but in January 2019, YouTube user Deserty HD posted a clipped version of the interview, remixed to the theme song from US television show Curb Your Enthusiasm, and it became a viral meme.

While most of us use the meme to make light of people who think that washing your face makes you less manly, it’s worth remembering that this interview was part of a public debate on homosexuality in Uganda when a bill criminalizing same-sex relationships was pending with Uganda’s parliament and Onziema was one of the movement’s most visible faces. Moreover, the interview itself displayed an incredibly hostile attitude towards Onziema, a queer person who was facing extreme public discrimination at the time.


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