Stories: Lgbtqi

  • Gay, Out And On The Airwaves In Kinshasa

    Sitting at his desk in a stuffy office with a rainbow flag hanging behind him, 31-year-old Patou Izai says it takes a lot of courage to come out as gay in Kinshasa, the sprawling capital city of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Although this vast, volatile Central African nation does not have the harsh anti-gay laws adopted by neighbors such...

  • The Trump Effect

    MONROVIA, Liberia—Friday nights at Sajj House, a Lebanese restaurant here, have, for several years now, been a draw for expats and upper-class Liberians alike. For a few hours each week, a place that typically offers little more than shawarma and bland pizza served beneath overhead fans transforms into an ad hoc dance club, loud and sweaty, with a...

  • Kissing On The Dancefloor of Horoom

    The beats pulsing from techno music force the walls to shudder as smoky air dances through green support beams in the underground space. Dim stars seemingly sway across that dark dancefloor, but these are the cigarettes. Everyone is smoking. This is Horoom, a secret underground queer rave in Tbilisi, a city that is known for its homophobia. It is a...

  • Gay and Undocumented, Burmese Refugees Struggle in Thailand

    “Queer migrants” or LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex) refugees from Myanmar – called as such because they had to leave their countries and go somewhere else to be able to live safely as themselves – have looked at Thailand as the ideal destination, with its louche, gay-friendly lifestyle. But in too many cases, in the...

  • Lesbians in Senegal just want a place where they can be themselves

    It is not easy to find gay women in Senegal. Homosexuality is illegal in the country, though several small LGBT rights groups operate there. But because they were founded during the AIDS crisis and considered as actors in keeping down HIV infection rates, they are focused on men. Lesbian women are now starting to fight for recognition, both in the...

  • The intricacies of transitioning: How to safely make the change

    When Charice Pempengco– the girl whose singing prowess brought her to popular American programs such as “Ellen” and “Oprah”–decided to transition to embrace his identity as transman Jake Zyrus, one of the biggest questions from the public who grew up watching him was, “What will happen to his voice?” It was...

  • A Carnaval of Resistance

    In Rio, locals joke that Carnaval starts one day earlier every year. On a weekend in mid-January, a full month before the five-day event’s official kick-off on Feb. 24, hundreds of people wearing costumes and shimmery face-paint crammed into Flamengo Park to see performances by samba street bands known as blocos (“blocks”), the key element of Brazil...

  • Why Vodou and lesbians get along

    When Marjorie Lafontant wants to reach the LGBT community, she grabs a megaphone and heads to a peristyle, a Voodoo temple. The leader of Haiti’s first lesbian rights organization starts her outreach efforts with the Voodoo world because, in her view, peristyles are the last safe spaces left in her home country of Haiti. We’re sitting...

  • Queer Haitians Find a Refuge in Vodou

    It’s just past 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning when Stephenson Meus tips back a bottle of Barbancourt. The rum comes out early in the 30-year-old’s congested Port-au-Prince neighborhood, but he doesn’t drink nearly as much as he pours into the sunbaked earth. A houngan, or Vodou spiritual leader, Meus isn’t talking...

  • Unshakable in Uganda

    Clare Byarugaba was in church on a Sunday in 2009 when her pastor urged his congregation to sign a petition backing antigay legislation being considered in Uganda’s parliament. She surveyed the massive sanctuary of her evangelical megachurch in Kampala, Uganda’s capital. “How many gay people,” she wondered, “are in this place?” Most of...