Last year I read a report about the state of the LGBTQ community in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of the country. It was a horrifying read, but one thing in particular stood out for me. It was how the people interviewed described having a pretty good life prior to August of 2021. There wasn’t a Pride parade down the streets of Kabul every June. But the people interviewed described a life where they could more or less go about their lives, so long as they didn’t overly flaunt their queerness. And if I’m being honest, this was a bit of a revelation to me. I never imagined that transgender people lived in Afghanistan. Not because they don’t exist. But because I thought that the social and cultural landscape of that country would have made this impossible.
As it turns out, I was wrong. Probably for a whole host of western lens biases that I really need to unpack. But I’m happy that I was wrong. Mostly because it was a wonderful affirmation that queer people will find a way to be their authentic selves, even in the most unforgiving of environments. I was reminded of this while reading an article about Chilean photographer Paz Errázuriz. She has documented marginalized communities in Chile for decades, but the article specifically spotlighted her series La Manzana de Adán, which documented the lives of transgender and transvestite sex workers in the 1980s during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. The photos are all gorgeous and full of life. And they are a beautiful reminder that queer communities will always find a way to flourish. Even under the most repressive of regimes.
Suggestions for artists I should check out? Please contact me with your ideas. I hope you enjoyed your daily helping of art!