Hamada Elrasam
Visual Storyteller

Members of the LGBTQ community in Rwanda are coming out of the shadows after dark days of attacks and harassment in 2017. Earlier in the year, a Rwandan journalist went public with her engagement to her female partner, which quickly sparked outrage in the deeply conservative country. Consequently, many of Rwanda’s LGBTQ either went into hiding or fled the country. I spoke with some of them about how they survived that dangerous time and the challenges that remain. 

Photo essay for Voice of America: https://www.voanews.com/a/rwanda-lgbt-community-out-of-shadows/3825108.html

The Rwandan government recognizes the LGBT community's right to live openly and safely, but it does not allow for gay marriage. However, activists say the majority of Rwandans still lack education regarding the group in Kigali, Rwanda, April 11, 2017. (Ph
Divin, a 30-year-old Rwandan gay man, says, "There was that debate in the media about the right for gay people to exist in Rwanda and I was attacked the same day. I don't think the attack was because [of] my sexual orientation, it was about stealing my mo
"We were partially recognized by the Rwandan government, which made me and my community feel safer," said Madoxy, a Rwandan LGBT activist and a transgender man. "But what is more painful is the social rejection. And we still don't have enough unity even w
Carter, transgender man, 28, is a program officer at Rights For All, an association that advocates for the LGBT community. "Recently when those two lesbians came out as married, it was a big debate and people didn't understand," Carter said. "They wondere
Lilian, 28, is a transgender woman. "My family understands my condition and sometimes they tease me, telling me to get married," Lilian said. "I love my family and they love me.  But when I go to a job interview, employers will comment on my physical appe
Diana Marie Merci is a Rwandan lesbian who lives with her partner. "I have no problems with people as long as I don't mention my sexual orientation," she said. "When I talk about it, some people will threaten me. Some of my school friends removed me from
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