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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > October 2019 > Rainbow warriors

Rainbow warriors

Art and activism collide as we take a stand with Rainbow Riots, a musical movement bringing together some of India’s first openly LGBTQ artists
MAKING THEIR VOICES HEARD: Petter Wallenberg and members of India’s first LGBTQ choir, Rainbow Voices Mumbai
JOHANNES HELJE

Three years ago, while attending Pride Uganda, Swedish musician and LGBTQ activist Petter Wallenberg found himself staring down the barrel of a gun, a number of guns, in fact. Not surprisingly, he feared for his life.

Armed police had stormed the celebrations as part of a brutal crackdown. Being gay was, and still is, illegal in the African country, and the raid polluted the air that had temporarily been filled with joy and liberation with the stink of hate and violence.

“Police held me and my team hostage for two hours while they arrested and beat several [other] people,” Petter recalls, summoning a memory that is no doubt deeply lodged in his brain. “We weren’t sure if we were going to live or die.

“Although we had machine guns pointed at us, I didn’t feel scared; I felt sad,” he continues.

“During the raid, I saw rainbow flags being torn down and thrown on the floor, and I remember looking into the eyes of a stranger and thinking, ‘Those are the saddest eyes I have ever seen’.”

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About Attitude

On the cover: Renée Zellweger is Judy Garland, Drag Race's Ross Mathews and Gus Kenworthy & Laith Ashley! Plus: Shura, Rainbow Riots India, and rugby's Chris Robshaw.