With continued resistance from MPs in Ghana to the pressure to decriminalise homosexuality, and a general attitude against those who do not identify as heterosexual, Ghanaian photographer Eric Gyamfi is producing work that engages with these complications.
“It’s in our everyday life that all these complex identities come together to make us who we are,” says Eric Gyamfi in an interview with New Town Next.
Living in a country where homosexuality is viewed as “un-African”, Gyamfi’s response has been to photograph the everyday lives of those who are not heterosexual. Through this documentation of LGBTQ communities in Ghana, he emphasizes the mundane to demonstrate how being homosexual is not a sexual orientation that should be viewed as “unnatural”. More than this, his work builds an archive of images that allow those whom he photographed to occupy historical space. In a 2015 series he documented the violence that LGBTQ people have had to face. This series saw people giving responses that continued the abuse by stating that this was well deserved. Aiming to productively channel the hurt from these responses, his series “Just Like Us” is a direct attempt to address homophobic attitudes that permeate in Ghana.
“It’s a way of establishing that there are queer people here. Not just for the rest of the population but to provide a space for us in history,” says Eric Gyamfi in an interview with New Town Next.
“Just Like Us” does not highlight sexuality, but rather shows the people he photographed partaking in everyday activities, and in doing so challenging stereotypical and problematic notions of ‘what queerness looks like’ or ‘should look like’. To put this series together Gyamfi spent weeks living with or in close proximity to queer individuals or couples. This allowed him to capture candid moments of romance, friendship and all things in between.