Man Plants Gay Pride Flag Atop Uganda’s Highest Peak, Challenges Museveni to Take It Down


Neal Gottlieb, the owner of Three Twins Ice Cream and an activist who lives in Sausalito, California, climbed to the top of Uganda's highest mountain, Margherita Peak, and planted a Gay Pride flag there "in protest of Uganda's recent criminalization of homosexuality," he wrote on Facebook.

2_gottliebWrote Gottlieb in an open letter to President Museveni, in part:

On April 16, 2014, after a 6-day climb, I summited your country’s tallest peak, Mount Stanley’s 16,753 foot tall Margherita Peak, and mounted a gay pride flag at its summit in protest of your country’s criminalization of homosexuality. Your country’s highest point is no longer its soil, its snow or a summit marker, but rather a gay pride flag waving brilliantly, shining down from above as a sign of protest and hope behalf of the many thousands of Ugandans that you seek to repress and the many more that understand the hideous nature of your repressive legislation…

…As the president of a nation you have the opportunity to be a great man and lead your country forward. Instead, you choose to hold your people back like the imperialists, the dictators and the warlords that have held Africa back generation after generation. The people that you wish to imprison are the same people who can help Uganda grow into a great nation.

…If you don’t like said flag on your highest peak, I urge you to climb up and take it down. However, you are an old man and surely the 6-day climb through the steep muddy bogs and up the mountain’s glaciers is well beyond your physical ability. Your days are more limited than most. Do you want your remaining days to be yet another blight on the history of your nation or will you find the strength to reverse your actions and allow all Ugandans to be free?

Read Gottlieb's full post below:



  1. UFFDA says

    This is why you can’t hold back young people armed with an idea whose time has come. They will be more bold and audacious, more innovative, quick and clever than you can imagine or prevent Mr. Museveni. Give in, give up and get out of the way.

  2. MaryM says

    Good for him.

    Uganda did not recently criminalise homosexuality though.

    It was already a jailable offence.

    Uganda recently decided to legalise genocide against gay people.

    Uganda is an abortion with knitting needles of a country.

  3. JackFknTwist says

    A great gesture; a powerful message.
    Has his letter to Museveni been published in Uganda’s Daily ? I would love to see his apoplectic reaction. Get the ambulance ready.

    This is exactly direct action and activism which will ridicule the bigotry of popular hysteria engendered by Scott Lively and his troupe of hate filled clowns.
    Hey Scott , grow the ba**s to climb up there and get it down !

    Highest point in Uganda ?
    The Rainbow Flag !

  4. SpaceCadet says

    Powerful and well-worded marriage. I hope a lot of Ugandans and Africans in general are inspired by this. I don’t really expect the president of Uganda to get it.

  5. Sean says

    I’m all about protest actions but they need to be done responsibly, with an understanding of how the underlying political situation might make them less effective or even counterproductive.
    Ugandan activists already struggle mightily to overcome the misconception that demands for queer recognition and security are a Western/colonial phenomenon, a threat to Ugandan cultural autonomy. A Californian tourist swooping in and ritually claiming territory may actually make their work harder. :/

  6. JackFknTwist says

    @ SEAN :

    ” Ugandan cultural autonomy” – what are you talking about ?

    The ‘colonial’ phenomenon part of this country’s history is the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act, UK legislation,which criminalised homosexuality.
    That is a much more threatening colonial legacy than any current gesture of protest.
    There should be many more protests.

    The idea that we shouldn’t fight back because we might make the situation worse for gays on the ground is a false pernicious trap.
    Do you want examples ?
    Do you want us to go quietly ?
    Do you want us to ignore what is happening in the wider world ?
    -there is a big world out there.

  7. Sean says

    Jack, I completely agree that anti-LGBT laws are in many cases a hateful colonial legacy and need to be undone. But Ugandan political and social leaders will still take any chance they can to pretend that liberty and safety for queer people is just a Western notion, something they and their constituents can dismiss. Like it or not, they’re the ones who actually have the power to stop threatening and ruining our sisters’ lives.
    Yes, we should fight back–by supporting Ugandan queer activists and tapping into their expertise regarding their own political situation. Yes, there should be many more protests–orchestrated so as to avoid messaging that our enemies can dismiss or even use as an excuse to make things worse.

  8. JackFknTwist says

    @ SEAN :
    We disagree. If you talk with any Ugandan gay, he will tell you that they desperately need outside pressure and support. (As Russian gays and ‘All Out’ will also testify).

    No, it should not all be internal, nor internally led……very often that domestic leading can be too dangerous.
    No there must be external, visible vocal denunciation of malicious populist denials of civil rights.
    We don’t have time for another Rwanda, or another Idi Amin. The foreign denunciation must be now and constant.
    Immediate sanctions must not be forgotten either. All aid must be cut to a bigoted regime on the brink of genocidal retaliation against gays. Aid to HIV clinics is being used as a honey trap to lure out gays and identify them for further retaliation.
    In these murderous atmospheres planting a flag of defiance is a fine show of the fact that we are here and not going away.
    ACT UP Uganda.

  9. Andrew says

    Ha! This is awesome! (His ice cream is delicious, by the way, not that I needed any more excuses to buy it.)

  10. TKinSC says

    1) I imagine the highest point in Uganda is somewhere in the atmosphere, though I’m not sure how high sovereign airspace extends.

    2) I imagine if M7 really wants the flag down, he can just order a chopper to go get it. I doubt it’s worth his time though.

  11. Gare says

    I hope he didn’t attempt sex in those temps. UFFDA: Homosexuality is not an “idea” owned by “young people.” You’re on a Friday high.

  12. UFFDA says

    Wow GARE I wonder how many other things in your life you get wrong? Equality and liberation for homosexual people IS an idea largely, in our time, championed by the young. It’s time has come. Yours, perhps not so much.

  13. Larry says

    Flying the flag upside-down like that is the opposite of his message. I hope these people understand irony.

  14. throwslikeagirl says

    This took guts, and physical and emotional strength. It also took a sharp intelligence to pen that letter. I’ve got a new gay hero to add to my list.

  15. Gare says

    UFFDA: Gay liberation and marriage are two different concepts. And “not so much” retort dates you. Old age awaits. Good luck with that.

  16. Bill says

    @Larry: at nearly 17000 ft in altitude, with probably limited time for acclimatization, a few minor errors like getting the flag upside down are quite understandable. Altitude has a negative effect on cognitive functions.

    He also seems to have a good enough sense of self-preservation to send the letter and publish the picture after he left that country.

    The question is, who is going to take the flag down (if the weather doesn’t do it for them)? Visitors would wisely refuse to take it down on their own because just being caught carrying a rainbow flag might get you arrested.

    If the wind blows it down when the next big storm goes through and it gets covered in snow, that flag could be on the summit for a very long time. They’ll know it is up there but nobody will be able to find it, and people aren’t going spend time digging to find it when their first priority will be getting back down before dark.

  17. Randy says

    “Man Plants Gay Pride Flag”

    No. Red is at the top of the gay pride flag, just as it is in rainbows.

    Purple at the top is either a Peace flag, or an idiot.

  18. Tony says

    I like the idea that the rainbow flag can be flown top or bottom up and it doesn’t even matter. It’s still instantly recognizable as the GAY flag.

  19. Rick says

    I doubt that it helps the situation in Uganda for a white American to take this action…..and I wonder what would have happened to him if he had made this gesture public before he left Uganda (I assume he didn’t)……That said, IF he is gay and not just a “straight ally”, then I am more impressed at him having scaled a mountain than I am with the flag gesture…….

    How many gay men are there who would take on a mountain like that? Not many…..I have met hardly any other gay men in my backpacking “career” over the years and even the gay “outdoors groups” do mostly lame stuff like ski weekends and day hikes…..

    Oh, well, maybe in my next life, I will meet such a man when I am still young enough for it to matter…..

  20. says

    Kudos to this smart brave eloquent man.

    If nothing else, Neal, you have shined a light on Yoweri Museveni, who is currently a symbol of “the banality of evil” through his ill conceived and cruel repression.

    Thank you.

  21. Bill says

    @JackFknTwist : I checked out a youtube video of a group climbing it. Nothing looked very difficult technically. They had ropes mainly in case of a crevasse on a glacier. Lively wouldn’t need “ba**s” (to quote your comment) to climb it. He would need to spend the next year getting in several 8 mile runs per week to get in shape. Make that two years. He’d need one to lose enough flab to start getting into shape and the second to actually get into decent shape.

  22. wheelie81 says

    Great symbolism, but at the end of the day, what does he hope to have accomplished by this? So a flag sits at the top of a mountain that no one can see and few can climb….so what? If you’re going to stand up for something, do something meaningful.

  23. Igor! says

    I wonder if lgbt Ugandans will be sleeping easier tonight or in fear as some arrogant American decided to wind up the president and leave. Why not allow ugandian lgbt people to decide the best response. Or does he think this is his burden.

  24. St.Eve says

    A brave & meaningfull act he did, if you don`t get it (wheelie81) then you`re just as meaningless & pointless has your comment!

  25. Kenny says


    If you haven’t seen the excellent movie, “God Loves Uganda” then please watch it next month on PBS’s Independent Lens.

    I’m sure you will change your tune once you see what is going on and has transpired over there.

    American Evangelicals have blood on their hands.

  26. Alex says

    My gay friends get beaten in their school bus every day, so I will put a rainbow sticker on the bus bumper and will ride a different bus.

  27. Alex says

    My gay friends get beaten in their school bus every day, so I will put a rainbow sticker on the bus bumper and will ride a different bus.

  28. inor says

    Flying a flag upside-down is a sign of distress- quite fitting in this situation, actually.

  29. Jeton Ademaj says

    this was a disgracefully self-aggrandizing act. the commentators supporting it are equally short-sighted. when (not if) this provocation results in more Ugandan LGBT getting slaughtered, i’m sure many of you will rationalize this action has having been helpful in some way.

    your enthusiasm is irrelevant to the safety of gay Ugandans. This is not the American right wing you’re dealing with, rule of law and “embarrassability” are quite different in Uganda than in the USA.

    “doing SOMEthing, ANYthing, has GOT to be better than doing NOTHING, AMIRITE?!”

    no, you fools, you’re very wrong…at least if the people you’re supposedly trying to save actually matter to you at all.

    Queer Ugandans will pay the tab that this fool racked up with his little provocation…they will pay for it with their blood.