A different world, just as real.
The first time I met Angelica I didnâ€™t know how to address him, as a man or a woman. To call him Angelica and then hear his manâ€™s voice was very strange. The first thing I asked was how he wanted to be treated. He said that it depended on how I felt more comfortable. For me she was Angelica.
Angelica is an extraordinary person through whose story I began my own in my new country, Mexico. Mexico is enormous and full of contrasts, color, smells and flavors.
Angelica has a very unique family. Her daughter Shadra has a pet Egyptian rat. I thought, how can a girl have a pet rat and love it as any child loves a dog. She proudly wanted to show it to me and put it in my hands, but I screamed and told her I was sorry but I just couldnâ€™t hold a rat. I was ashamed to be such a coward. Luckily she understood; sheâ€™s an 8-year-old girl with incredible maturity that allows her to accept her father as a man and as a woman at the same time. She respects and doesnâ€™t show shame.
Angelicaâ€™s wife, Chatall, a lesbian, has always worked to give the best education to their children, Shadra and her other child from a previous marriage, with an open mind that also teaches values and principals. When Chatall realized that she also liked other women, she managed to overcome the barriers and live openly.
Throughout the years Angelica has learned to handle well the matter of her double personality. She has even helped others come out of the closet to show their real selves to society. This is her battle.
When I first arrived in Mexico four months ago I was alarmed by how much homophobia was on the minds of the people. Gay Pride day was close and I contacted the organizer of the event, who gave me Angelicaâ€™s name. I met her family one night and she told me her long story as I tried to understand the differences between the different labels â€“ transgender, transvestite, transsexual. I put together a story plan, starting with visits in which I took no photos and we just spent time together to get them comfortable with my presence.
Iâ€™ve been a photographer for nearly 16 years, and one of the many marvels that this job offers is the chance to meet people like this, strange for some but wonderful for me, that give me the possibility of experiencing another world.
My last stint was three difficult years in Israel. There one sees conflict every day, even in daily life. One of the sayings there is, â€śWhat doesnâ€™t kill you makes you stronger.â€ť And thatâ€™s what the Israel experience gave me, strength.
What I found in Mexico is a place where there is also conflict, often much bloodier, that shows no sign of ending. As long as drugs are illegal and poverty exists the War will continue. But as a Colombian the subject of drug trafficking, jungle laboratories, coca and land wars is pretty commonplace. Thatâ€™s why I wanted to begin my life in Mexico with a human story. I wanted to report on something different. The world is not all war, religion or drugs. I wanted to show in some way that in other realities there are happy people, people willing to open their door to show the world how an atypical family lives with mature, respectful and loving children.