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This is what people are saying about life for LGBTI people in CONGO, THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE...
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i am a activist who is in a bad situation (user currently living in SOUTH AFRICA) posted for transgender readers on 29/07/2011
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this is my story published by Behind the mask

AN AFRICAN TRANSGENDER ACTIVIST SPEAKS OF HIS STRUGGLE

Junior Mayema is a transgender activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) currently in South Africa due to homophobic threats and violence in his country.

I was born on July 30, 1987 in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Since I was 14-years-old I knew that I was transgender. My friends called me ‘pédé’ (which means queer in French), because I preferred to play with girls rather than boys. I was very effeminate and attractive.

My uncle, whose name was also Junior, and my old brother Olivier’s friends all raped me several times. Why did they choose to rape me? It pleased them to do so. They felt excited and powerful. They knew it was wrong, but they raped me again and again.

When I was 16-years-old I experienced a lot of stress and frustration, because I was hiding my sexual orientation. Then one day I listened to a programme on sexuality on the Montreal-based Radio Canada International. As a result I began a correspondence in which I discussed my life and my sexuality with Stephen Parent, a journalist on Radio Canada International. Stephen assured me that being gay was not something bad or unnatural. He urged me not to give up hope or the desire to live.

Stephen put me in touch with someone called Alexis Musanganya at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Association – Arc En Ciel D Afrique (The African Rainbow), which is based in Montreal. Together they helped me to come to terms with who I am, and to find the courage to begin to share my ‘secret’ with those around me.

I began by attending bars and visiting gay websites. I even subscribed to www.gayafrique.com to find a soul mate. I was so young and inexperienced, and so far away from Canada.

Life in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Kinshasa, in my neighbourhood, among my friends, inside my home and with my family was so incredibly hurtful, as a direct result of my sexuality. I am gay and being gay in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not something anyone would choose to be at this moment in time, because being gay is completely unacceptable – sinful even.

My parents divorced and both remarried when I was young. I lived with my mother until she and my step-father, a conservative pastor, learnt that I was gay. My mother kicked me out of her home. They wanted nothing to do with me. I caused them embarrassment and shame. They broke my heart.

I was 16-years-old and yearned for the support and acceptance of my family. I longed for someone to love me and to guide me. To make me feel safe when all around me there was so much unkindness towards people who are gay.

So what did I do then? I refused to give up. I contacted Amnesty International. They in turn connected me up with Francoise Mukuky, who was working with the feminist association, “Si Jeunesse Savait” (If Young People Knew) in Kinshasa. But things did not work out for me in Kinshasa, so after a while I moved to the Province of Bandundu to live with my father and to study law at the University.

During this period I was introduced to Facebook, by the late LGBTI activist George Kanuma. From a small town in the Democratic Republic of Congo my world was opened up through Facebook. People shared their experiences and knowledge. I began not to feel so alone.

I met Dennis Hambridge of the Gender Society, “a social networking, support, resources and information for transsexuals, transvestites, crossdressers and transgender people everywhere” on Facebook and together we created a group called Arc En Ciel Rdcongo, (the DRCongo Rainbow) an organization devoted to LGBTI rights. This was established to raise awareness about the underground LGBT community in my country. I also joined Gay Activist Alliance International (GAAI). I was becoming involved, motivated and more knowledgeable.

All this time, however, my life was under threat everyday whilst I was at University. No-one wanted to publicly support me and many expressed their fears and hatred by hurting and abusing me. I began to fear for my life – and so doing watched my dream of becoming a lawyer slip away.

Today I am 23-years-old and living in Cape Town, South Africa. Three courageous friends, Dennis Hambridge, Henk Bongers and Maik Diekmannsheike helped me to leave my country and make my way to South Africa. I left the Democratic Republic of Congo, my country, with a heavy heart and so much hope for a new future.

South Africa is not an easy place to live as a young gay foreigner who would like to complete a Law Degree. South Africa is not an easy place to live when you have no family, home or money.

I wish I could have stayed and finished my Law Degree. I wish I could have stayed in my beloved country.

I am still on my journey to find a place of safety and peace of mind. A place where I shall not have to fear being raped, or hearing hurtful descriptive phrases, as a direct result of my sexuality.

Thank you for reading my story. I am a real person with real feelings and real dreams. I have always really liked the fact my star sign is Leo. What do they say about Leo? ‘Leos tend to be dignified and strong.’ The thought has always inspired me
http://www.mask.org.za/an-african-transgender-activist-speaks-of-his-struggle/
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