Diadji Diouf is an LGBTI activist and the head of AIDES Senegal, an organization that provides HIV prevention services to homosexual men in Senegal, a country which has strict anti-gay laws. In December of 2008, Diadji along with 9 other men were arrested and charged with “establishing an illegal organization” and “committing acts against the order of nature” and sentenced to eight years in jail. The men were released in 2009 largely due to pressure placed on the government by international organizations which, while fortunate, was also problematic. The intense media coverage surrounding Diadji’s case made him the target of abuse and discrimination. Despite dangerous circumstances, Diadji uses his visibility and status as one of the country’s only openly gay leaders to continue to fight for LGBTI rights in Senegal and throughout the African continent.
Illustration by Albert Chang
Diadji Diouf’s portrait utilizes one of the oldest forms of Senegalese art, underglass painting. Also known as “fixé under glass” or “souwere,” this specific technique requires the artist to paint on the underside of glass and then flipping the work over. The resulting artwork is oftentimes backed by another material creating a layered composition.