“Even Obama cares about us! The last time a gay leader was assassinated in Uganda, Obama asked [President] Pepe [Lobo] to protect us and investigate the crimes against us in Honduras,” says Bessy, a 31 year-old transsexual who does volunteer social work with the homosexual community during the day. For the last 11 years, Bessy has also been working nights as a prostitute on the streets.
Honduran government sources have documented the assassination of 34 gays, transvestites, and transsexuals in the past 18 months. Some of them were killed with great sadism and cruelty. Three days before Christmas, murderers tied Lady Oscar to a chair and set fire to her. A week earlier the body of Luis Hernandez was found in a ditch, her face beaten until it was unrecognizable.
I meet them in the basement of a pool hall located in a dangerous neighborhood of Tegucigalpa. There, along narrow and dark stairways, are several rooms where Bessy, Patricia and Tiffany live.
“Today is Thursday, a good day to make some money,” they remark.
As they cross-dress before hitting the streets, I ask them about the violence. Patricia, a 24-year-old cosmetology student, answers, “On the street we’re insulted all the time. If we’re attacked, the police appear not to defend us but to join the attackers. We’re treated like dogs, not human beings. Last December attackers killed Riana, who lived here with us. Nobody has been accused, nobody. I don’t think this will change for the next 50 years.”
Little by little their new look, hair and face colors motivate me to begin photographing.