“HERE WE ARE, WE ARE GAY, WE ARE UGANDAN" by tadej žnidarčič
on february 24, 2014, a new anti homosexuality law in uganda took effect, imposing life imprisonment for engaging in homosexual relationships (the death penalty was initially proposed, but was ultimately withdrawn). the bill also makes it a crime for anyone - parent, friend, priest, doctor - not to report homosexual activity to the authorities.
newspapers already out people they suspect, and this is believed to have led to the 2011 murder of david kato, a prominent ugandan gay rights campaigner. that newspaper article included a list of 100 people and their addresses, with the headline “hang them.” in uganda, publicly identifying as gay or being identified as such can result in the loss of a job, arrest, harassment, blackmail, beatings and death.
in 2010, tadej žnidarčič began a series of portraits and interviews with ugandan lgbti activists with the aim of giving voice, if not face, to the members of the community (you can read their individual stories here). due to the precarious situation, they did not want to be identified and were photographed from behind.
but when žnidarčič, a physicist turned photojournalist who has been living in uganda for four years, revisited them in 2013, they had become more empowered, assertive and confident, and were now willing to face the world. to emphasize their transformation, he paired the images together. as one of the photographed said, “here we are. we are gay. we are uganadan.”