By Efemia Chela
Although the Ghanaian government is moving closer to passing a draconian anti-LGBTQ+ bill, resistance to the discriminatory legislation is fierce. These two Mxsterminds, Alex Kofi Donkor and Angel Maxine are part of the battle to prevent the bill becoming law and are fighting for social acceptance of queer Ghanaians.
Activism takes different forms. One of the joys of watching MxsterMinds: For the Culture is seeing how queer Africans around the continent are being activists in their communities using their various talents. Angel, a transgender woman, and Alex, a gay man, live proudly queer in Ghana. Despite the country’s hostilities towards LGBTQ+ people, their public profiles help with visibility and changing common perceptions of queer people. On social media, they use the #KillTheBill and #WeAreAllGhana to raise awareness about the political climate in Ghana and accelerate social change.
Both Angel and Alex have been open about their upbringing, which could be difficult at times and often featured a religious influence. Angel is the child of a reverend and prophetess, but her mother was a staunch ally. In fact, ‘Angel’ comes from a nickname her mother gave her. Alex attended church as a boy, and struggled with Christian teachings which were homophobic. Initially, he couldn’t accept that he was gay, but by university he was able to accept himself more fully.
Today, Alex is a model and the director of LGBT+ Rights Ghana, an NGO founded in 2018 which empowers the local LGBT community through valuable skills training, community-building social events and human rights advocacy. In 2021, Ghanaian security forces raided the organisation’s newly opened offices and Alex was forced to go into hiding for his safety. Despite these obstacles, Alex remains hopeful: ‘There is going to be a time when things will get better and that is motivating and encouraging enough for me to push for change constantly.’
Angel is Ghana’s first openly trans musician. She fuses her musical talent with social critique releasing hits like ‘PREP’, ‘Be You’ and ‘Kill the Bill.’ Her music video ‘Wo Fie’ (which is the theme song for the series) went viral in 2021. The song features Sister Deborah and Wanlov the Kubulor and the catchy refrain ‘LGBTQ is in your family.’ Angel regularly highlights the hypocrisy of Ghanaian society, writing about how people are disproportionately concerned with queerness instead of real social ills like corruption and domestic violence. This year, she won the Soul of Stonewall Award at Berlin Pride which recognises the achievements of LGBTQIA+ people and marginalised groups.
Our struggles as queer people are linked. While some parts of the continent are rapidly decriminalising, such as Botswana and Angola, other parts such as Ghana and Uganda, are part of a new wave of repression. No matter which way the situation goes, the whole of the African queer community stands behind Ghanaians. Check out the episodes on MxsterMinds’ YouTube channel as part of Mxsterminds: For the Culture and the MxsterMinds Instagram @MxsterMinds. Check out Angel’s Wo Fie which is the theme song for series.