Dan Dyson had been building a successful gospel music career in Uganda for nearly a decade when his life was turned upside down by a group of anti-gay activists bent on ridding the country of its LGBT citizens. Today, he is in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign trying to raise $5,000 to record a full-length album and restart his career in the United States.
In 2009, a group of United States evangelicals joined together with Ugandan pastors and held a conference in Uganda, developing an agenda against homosexuality in the country as well as a campaign to out LGBTI Ugandans through the media.
The campaign included briberyoften of other gay peoplefor names of known LGBTI citizens.
"A gay man that we knew … was paid to start naming and outing people," Dyson said.
A publication called Red Paper began publishing the names and careers of LGBTI individuals living in Uganda.
"They did a story about me and the Catholic priest, my friend, that we were lovers, and that was out there in the newspaper," Dyson said.
Dyson had begun recording music with Rev. Fr. Anthony Musaala in 2002, following ostracism from his first church.
"I used to work with an evangelical church and I used to be one of the leading vocalists in the church. … When they found out I was gay they started mistreating me and they started hating me and discriminating [against] me, and then I quit the church," Dyson explained.
Father Musaala, encouraged Dyson not to give up on God and welcomed him into his church, where Dyson said he was welcomed despite not being Catholic.
Father Musaala and Dyson began recording music together, and recorded seven albums by 2009 when the outing occurred.
By 2009, Dyson had also already been participating in grassroots efforts to help the Ugandan LGBTI community, including helping to found Spectrum Uganda Initiatives, but he said that he did so without being publicly out due to his career.
"I was one of the pioneer LGBTI activists who started the work," he noted. "I would even go on the radio and speak, because on the radio no one sees you.
"We felt like as a community we needed an organization to support each other, to get condoms for the community, get HIV drugs for some of our members who were sick, because we felt like we couldn't get any help from the government."
Being publicly outed was terrifying for Dyson, but he decided that it was important to speak up and to continue his activism. He began speaking out widely, which led to an appearance on a government owned radio station that included the minister of ethics and integrity, who was there to speak against homosexuality.
Following the radio interview, Dyson said that he was abducted and taken to an unknown location where he was tortured for three days and became ill.
Despite orders to kill him, Dyson was shown the slightest bit of mercy and let go, with the instructions to stop his activism and to leave.
Dyson left Uganda, and first settled in Nairobi, Kenya, before coming to the United States in 2012.
Today, Dyson has begun making a life for himself in San Francisco. He wishes to rebuild his music career and has started a campaign on Kickstarter that will allow him to record a full-length record of new material that he has written. He said the songs are all focused on peace, love, freedom and worship, and will allow him to tell his story through music.
"I love singing," he said. "It's my number-one passion. I have been performing in the U.S. in the churches and where I am invited to speak and to sing."
Because of recording costs in the United States, Dyson is planning to return to Nairobi, where he has a producer and others who can help him record the album.
He said that he is hoping people will contribute and help him raise the $5,000, noting that he lost everything in Uganda, his career, his home and his family.
The Kickstarter campaign runs through Tuesday, Nov. 5, at 9 p.m. EST.
To learn more about Dyson's journey and the campaign, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/dandyson/dan-dyson-in-africa .