St. Pete City Councilmember Darden Rice got an unusual plug on premium cable television. A man is seen briefly wearing her campaign T-shirt from her most recent successful City Council bid.
The blue shirt has her name and campaign slogan, “St. Pete Strong” visible for not longer than the blink of an eye.
It’s worn by a man who is presumably from Uganda in a teaser for the HBO show VICE. The episode is called “The Rise of Homophobia in Uganda.”
The one minute and 23 second clip shows a woman interviewing a man about how he and his friends deal with women who have sex with other women.
“If we find a woman with a woman, we pull out one and and we do it to her … we have sex with her,” the man says. “We cannot allow a woman to have sex with a fellow woman.”
The host then asks the man if he has ever raped a lesbian.
“Yeah, serious raping,” he replied. “Because [when it’s] woman to woman then it means you need real sex and we get you a man who is seriously needing a woman and they rape you seriously.”
It’s unclear how someone in Uganda came to posses a campaign t-shirt from St. Petersburg or why the man is wearing it. It’s also unclear whether that person knew Rice is an openly gay woman.
She ran her campaign without so much as an effort to conceal her sexual orientation and even thanked her longtime partner after winning office. In a statement, Rice said she’s not entirely sure how the shirt ended up on a man in Uganda.
“The t-shirt likely made its way through a clothing donation effort,” she wrote. “But I have no way to be sure.”
She said she assumes it’s an “odd coincidence.”
“It is a tragic and chilling story of the US evangelical-led campaign of homophobic hate and violence in Uganda,” she said. “So the happenstance of my t-shirt showing up in the background is beyond ironic.”
Rice took to Facebook Sunday evening with a screen shot of the man wearing the shirt. She wrote that “a lot of folks have messaged me that they saw my campaign T-shirt in the background … I finally saw the episode and it’s a tragic and chilling report.”
She posted a link to the report but cautioned, “the content is disturbing.”
In an even more gruesome revelation by the Ugandan man interviewed in the clip, the host asks what men do with gay men.
“Kill, kill, kill” the man, and others, shouted gleefully. “You kill that one.”
Despite the shocking content, Rice is finding a silver lining.
“This offers the opportunity for thoughtful discussion about the juxtaposition of extremist evangelical sentiment, tyrannical government and the freedom the majority of people in our country support,” she wrote.
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