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PEN/OutWrite | 22nd August 2018

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Faces and Phases | Zanele Muholi

“ I arrived on the scene to find Disebo’s half-naked and lifeless body surrounded by community members. The wire that was used to strangle her had punctured her skin and was still lodged inside her neck, while about 20 cm of hosepipe was inserted in her mouth, tied with a shoelace, and left with water running inside her body.”

— Assah Molapo,
relative of Disebo Gift Makau,
a lesbian who was murdered in August 2014

Despite the fact that LGBTI individuals in South Africa have the right to same-sex marriage and freedom of expression as stipulated in our Constitution, members of the black lesbian community have been beaten, cursed, paralyzed, butchered, “curatively raped,” and even murdered as the result of hate crimes. The photographic series Faces and Phases, of which this portfolio is a small representation, has been a lifelong project for us and features the brave survivors of these hate crimes. Standing firm and posing proudly, the women photographed here challenge fear and fight invisibility despite being abused by society.