Ayanda Mogoloza and Nhlanhla Moremi wedding had a very special witness: the visual activist Zanele Muholi was there to document and photograph that moment of joy. The same happened when Promise Meyer and Gift Sammone tied the knot. But only a few weeks separates those happy events with the funerals of Dudusile Zozo and Maesnae Radebe, two black south African women who were killed just for being lesbians. Zanele Muholi has became an inconvenient witness of a terrible reality: while South Africa has one of the most progressive constitutions along with other legislation that outlaws discrimination based on sexual orientation in the workplace, and legalises same-sex marriages, homosexuality in the black communities is still terribly risky.
Three of her recent and award winning exhibits, “Mo(u)ming”, Phases and Faces and Love and Losses are a galleries of pictures and videos that explores and shows the daily life of the black LGTB black community in South Africa. A Huffington Post article notes that Zanele’s Muholi’s work combines “her passion for art and her commitment to addressing social injustice, she tackles the subject of LGBT rights across the world, focusing primarily on her home country in order to redefine the stereotypes associated with gender and sexuality”.
Muholi’s objective is to empower LGBT individuals who are “silenced by a society which in principle has constitutional obligation to provide a platform to tell their stories, through their own voices, which currently is not the reality.” The powerful images she takes, the terrible truth she documents and her capacity to redefine stereotypes associated with gender and sexuality constitutes a reminder of how long the way for a real shared society can be but also a sample of how rewarding it can be.