If Christ the Redeemer indeed watches over Brazil, you will feel his presence more in Peru. With less than 3% atheists, the country is among the most religious in the Christian world. Catechism classes are compulsory at school. The constitution formally recognizes the Church’s influence in society, high clergy members participate in the development of laws. In other words, Jesus is everywhere.
In this context, one can only imagine the difficulties encountered by the LBGT+ community, especially transgender women. Frequently victims of aggression, they are kept away in hospitals and do not systematically have access to healthcare. Almost banned from college, most end up on the sidewalk. Rejected by morality, their lives are sadly reduced to exclusion and violence.
In response to this situation, the duo of photographers Barboza-Gubo & Mroczek devote themselves to a new project: Virgenes de la Puerta (“The Virgins of the Gate”, editor’s note). During four years, they meet several transgender people in order to understand their daily lives and their struggle in order to better defend them. Playing on the importance of the space occupied by religion, they appropriate the liturgical aesthetic to transform them into saints before the objective.
Particular care is given to details, the accessories even being manufactured by local craftsmen who actually supply the Church. Each portrait is a blend of symbols, strength and vulnerability. Beyond provocation, it is above all a way of reintegrating these women into a culture that has banished them, using the codes that are dear to them…
Shortly after the photos are published, a member of Congress proposes a bill punishing blasphemy with a minimum sentence of two years’ imprisonment. The government may wonder about the limits of freedom of expression, but a real debate is finally starting to emerge around their condition. Many battles remain to be fought, but Peruvian transgender women now possess new models of pride. Proof that art is necessary… •