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Rainbow Girls

Julia Gunther | South Africa


 'Rainbow Girls' is a photographic documentary series about lesbian women in South African townships.

Undeterred by the daily threats of violence, constant intimidation and at the risk of being cast out by their own families, the lesbian women of Gugulethu and Khayelitsha township continue to be proud of who they are and the love they represent.

'Rainbow Girls' is the 3rd installment of Julia Gunther's ongoing project 'Proud Women of Africa': a photographic record of women who live or work in Africa. 

 All of these girls have something to tell you but to keep it short I'll pass the word to Terra:

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 then 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. 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 hidden, untold & 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! They 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 and people here in our community, in our townships need to know this.

It’s not the apartheid from long time ago, it’s apartheid amongst ourselves in the black community.


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