"I first encountered the South African photographer Zanele Muholi two winters ago in her native country. I was so shy and in awe of her work that I half-hoped she wouldn’t remember that last encounter.
"As the foremost chronicler of black lesbians and transgender people in South Africa, Ms. Muholi is an artist and activist, advocating for rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people on a continent where they are under attack. We met at a Cape Town hotel amid a crowd of people, waiting for the Nigerian musician Femi Kuti to perform.
"Ms. Muholi was playing pool with a stylish gang of girlfriends, all slouchy denim and cool T-shirts. We started talking about mutual friends, my writing and whether her femme friend — who was present — was gaining too much weight.
After a little while, she turned to me seriously. “So, Alexis,” she said, a smile drawing out on her face. “Why are you so interested in L.G.B.T. people, anyway?” I said something about being a loyal ally. “O.K.,” she said, still wearing a teasing smile. “Allies are important, too.”
Photographing a ‘Difficult Love’ in South Africa