Suna’s story: out and proud in Mozambique

A young woman sits round a table with others in discussion © Frontline AIDS/Peter Caton 2019
Suna says the Deep Engagement project helped LGBT people feel better about who they are

Suna has embraced her identity as a lesbian with support from our Deep Engagement programme in Mozambique.

I’m a lesbian. I suffered a lot in childhood, at school, on the street. It was not easy to leave the house and go for a walk, I was ashamed to leave. I suffered bullying. People said look at this beautiful girl who only puts on trousers, it made me feel bad because I was always a person with different characteristics from other girls.

I discovered that I was a lesbian when men flirted with me; I didn’t feel like a normal woman. It was then that I discovered that I am attracted to women. There is a girl I have seen in the bank, I like her a lot, she is a lesbian. I get inspired by her because I like her being the way she is.

Self-acceptance

This project has encouraged me to accept myself as I am. It was thanks to the peer educators, in particular Tauri who has always talked to me, that I learned to accept and live my sexual orientation. Before, I had no information about sexuality or where to look for support or know my health status.

I’ve been controlling my health, that’s when I got the idea to get tested for HIV, to know whether I have the virus or not.

People do not get tested because they are afraid, because they believe that healthcare providers can inject the virus, but this is not true. There are people who do not like to discover what they are, who are afraid of being bullied after discovering the result or think that life is over when they know they are HIV positive. That is why they do not get tested.

Moving on

I have been watching movies, soap operas that feature lesbian characters. When I saw those characters, I wondered why I don’t go out and demonstrate what I am. Thanks to God that’s how I came out of the closet. What guides me is the fact that I have met friends or people of my kind, so that leads me to be who I am.

My dream is to work on a project like this one day because I really like it. It is a project that makes the person feel better about who she is and she can move on. I would like the project to expand further and reach more districts. I am very grateful for being here.

About the programme

Our Deep Engagement programme was funded by the Elton John AIDS Foundation and reached more than 20,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people between 2017 and 2020. We provided tailored, stigma-free prevention, care and treatment services for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Peer educators were central to the programme as well-respected and connected people from the LGBT community. They introduced Suna and thousands of other LGBT people to the project and linked them to information and services.

A number of peer educators were trained to carry out rapid HIV tests, which helped to increase the number of LGBT people testing for HIV and accessing treatment. The programme also ran mobile clinics and operated safe spaces, such as drop-in centres, where LGBT Mozambicans could socialise, find acceptance and access information and support.

The programme was run by LAMBDA (the Mozambican Association for Sexual Minorities), AMODEFA (the Associação Moçambicana Para o Desenvolvimento da Família), Frontline AIDS and Health Gap.

Further Reading

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adolescents and young peopleDeep Engagement Mozambiquediscrimination and stigmaLGBTMozambiqueSexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI)