In 2015, the conservative country Mozambique decriminalised homosexuality but it was a watershed moment about 5 years previous that sparked debate and began the conversation in society. That moment was a performance on the country’s most popular commercial channel and it was the first time a trans person appeared on a mainstream broadcast.
The pair called La Biba and La Santa took to the stage as contestants on Mozambique’s equivalent of ‘Ireland’s Got Talent‘.
The performance caused outcry with politicians asking questions and the performace being labelled as “contrary to the acceptable”.
Despite the outrage, the pair made it all the way to the semi-finals of the competition, winning over judges and receiving a standing ovation for their act.
“The first song we did was ‘I Will Survive’ and at the end, the audience rose to their feet,” La Santa told The Independent.
“When we were kicked out a load of people were waiting. I could not believe the reaction. They didn’t look at me as trans or homosexual. They looked at me as a singer. For the trans community, this had a lot of impacts. That is why it has been important for me for it means now, every time I call people on social media about an awareness-raising event, they come.”
Although the pair bowed out of the competition in the semi-final, the real success for La Santa came after the competition as she used her platform to highlight her work with Mozambique’s only LGBT+ organisation, Lambda.
La Santa is one of the country’s only out transgender figures and runs Lambda’s network of activists who encourage HIV testing while also heading their transgender association.
Through her appearance on the talent competition, La Santa has gained the trust of the LGBT+ community and with 2.5 million social media followers, she continues to spread the message of equality.
Working as part of the only LGBT+ organisation in a country where children are being disowned for their sexuality, La Santa is an important voice. “People need more information. That is why the fight goes on”, she says.
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