Guinea-Bissau’s ‘Big Mamas’ advance gay pride in conservative West Africa

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03/13/2019

Edimilson Silva wears tight jeans, sparkly jewellery and sometimes lipstick – outfits that in neighbouring countries could get him harassed, jailed or even killed. But in his home in Guinea-Bissau’s capital, Bissau, a city of about 500,000 people in the small, impoverished West African nation, homosexuality is gradually becoming more accepted, he said. “In the past, it used to be dangerous, but now you can walk out and almost nobody does anything to you,” said Silva, 19. “I gained the courage to do that because the more you hide, the worse it becomes for you,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Silva is in a group of gay men and trans women called Big Mama Fountain (for short, the “Big Mamas”) at the forefront of Guinea-Bissau’s move toward acceptance. Through their own example, they said they have emboldened others to come out.

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