October 21, 2013•
“When I was starting, it was difficult to understand myself. I was feeling as if maybe, am I mad, or maybe something is happening to me. Then as I was growing I just understand myself, that I am who I am … and I have to be who I am.” — Skinny
“You are a rejected person. … People will look at you as if you are evil.” — Chipo
“I thought I was the only person like that in the whole world.” — Fortune
Nelson & Pablo
“We always keep our distance even for fear of being stigmatized. … I want to live in a society where everyone minds his own business.” — Pablo
“I took a lot of risks. It’s a lot of hard work, and keeping it private is not easy. Being in Malawi as well so you have to work it out and make it look like you’re just friends, best friends … you can have a girl just to cover up, just to look like everything is alright. But behind the scenes you know who you are.” — Lane
“Maybe they say, ‘Look at this girl, as beautiful as she is, perfectly fair woman, what is it that you find in that?’ … they sometimes say we are satanic.” — Madaliso
Standing outside his workplace in Mzuzu, a northern city in Malawi, Desire spoke in Chichewa about his job as a peer educator – he became friends with his first client at the market, where the man sold secondhand clothes. Desire found out he was gay after they became close friends and their trust increased. He is a peer educator because, as a gay man, Desire thinks it is important to share messages of safety among the community.
“I also wish if I had the opportunity to do that in public just like everyone else … I wish we could move to some place.” Nelson wishes he and his boyfriend could hold hands in public and be intimate with each other.
“If I go for prayers, maybe they might really, really pray for me, and I will lose my girlfriend. … I love my girlfriend very much. I don’t want to lose her.” Mwayi and her girlfriend have been dating for six years. She stopped praying for her attraction to women to go away after they started dating.
Lucky lives in the northern region of Malawi, where he is a peer educator. He has many gay friends and says it’s easy to spot another gay man. Once he figures out that someone is a man who has sex with men, he will approach him, maybe in a bar, become his friend and then bring up his role and confirm the man’s orientation. That’s how he builds his network and spreads HIV-related messages.
“It’s very hard to come open, to tell your family, because you never know what their reaction will be, because it’s illegal here in Malawi. So that’s why I’m afraid to tell them. But if the time comes, I hope that I will tell them. … I’m just waiting for them to hear from people talking, talking, talking about the LGBT. … So it will not be a new thing to them.” — Khumbo