Being Gay in Sierra Leone

2017
August
14

On Lee Price’s first night in Freetown, Sierra Leone, his fixer took him to a transgender beauty pageant.  There the British photographer met a trans beauty queen who opened her door to him and revealed a sanctuary for members of the LGBT community.  The photographs from his time there now form ‘The House of Kings and Queens.’

In a country where being gay is illegal, people of sexual minorities are regularly refused healthcare, turned away from shops in fear of their money bringing bad luck, and live under constant threat of physical and verbal abuse.

But, instead of focusing on the negatives, Price wanted his work to celebrate the defiance and courage of Sierra Leone’s gay community, as well as the solidarity and security that the house provides.

(From ‘The House of Kings and Queens’ by Lee Price, Humber Street Gallery)

The timing of Price’s exhibition marks 50 years since the decriminalization of homosexuality in the UK. However, although Price celebrates the progress British gay rights has made in that time, he believes there’s more work to be done.

“Even here [in the UK], prejudice is still very much alive and we shouldn’t feel too much gratitude until it no longer exists,” he explains.  “We can, however, appreciate that our situation in the UK is a far reach from that of the LGBT+ communities of places like Sierra Leone. Here and in many other parts of the world there’s a lot of progress still to be made, and I hope this project helps to shed more light on this international human rights issue, as well as raising debates around the ill treatment of people because of their sexuality – not just overseas, but at home too.”

The House of Kings and Queens is on display at Humber Street Gallery’s Gallery Four in Hull, England from Thu 27 Jul – Sun 24 Sept.

(From ‘The House of Kings and Queens’ by Lee Price, Humber Street Gallery)