In Terra’s own words: “My name is Terra, and I was born in Cape Town on 21st april 1989. I got kicked out of the house when I was 16 years old because I’m a lesbian. Up until then, I lived a secret lesbian life and living a lie is very difficult; you have to come out and be yourself. I started living with my grandparents, who were very strict and taught me to be disciplined. Life was hard but you always have to remember – if I’m not gonna make it through this – who is going to make it for me? The name Terra is a butch name, and it gives me respect where I live. I’m not safe living in Gugulethu as a black lesbian. I’m not safe in my community. I’m not safe in South Africa, and I will never be safe. I’m living in fear but with the respect I got, I seem to be able to stay out of trouble. There are people who discriminate and criticize me when I walk down the street with my girlfriend. The community can break people’s heart by being harsh with their presumptions, but we all have to fight hate crime; otherwise, I think we will always be the victim. We have our own freedom and shouldn’t live in fear. I’m making a documentary right now about the hidden, untold, and painful stories in the townships by lesbian women that need to be heard. We need to talk about it ’cause these women are ashamed, ashamed of themselves. They think they must have done something wrong, but they didn’t do anything wrong! The got raped- they didn’t choose to be raped. Being a victim is very painful; living in fear is very painful. Even though they hate us, rape us and kill us- all we have is love! We love each other and they can’t break us ’cause we are gonna fight- new generations like us. We are able to respect and love people here in our community, and our townships need to know this. It’s not the Apartheid from a long time ago; it’s Apartheid amongst ourselves in the black community.”
Miss Lesbian 2012 Inga
In bursts of vibrant color, Julia Gunther‘s Rainbow Girls portraits chronicle the lives of lesbian women living in the Khayelitsha and Gugulethu Townships of Cape Town, South Africa. Gunther’s choice to work with such high contrast in her images is mirrored in the way the women live their lives–they themselves are in high contrast to traditional South African society, one that has forced many lesbian women to leave their homes because they live outside of what is considered the norm. Many of the women Gunther has photographed are violently threatened on a regular basis and many have been raped because local men consider the female attraction to women a threat in itself.