Just Like Us

Just Like Us

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A boy lying on the top of a couch with a man behind it.

Henry and his son, who is visiting him for the weekend. Henry’s son lives with Henry’s mother in the city of Takoradi.

© Eric Gyamfi

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A woman sitting in a chair, laughing, next to another woman resting on her armrest.

Lily and Nana met through a mutual friend and have been a couple since September 13, 2014. Lily moved out of her family home when she was 17 and has been living on her own since. She says, “I try not to make friends. That way, I can keep people away from my private life, as their questions and suspicions never get answered or confirmed. We keep a close circle of friends who are mostly just like us. It’s not the best way to live but it has worked for us thus far.”

© Eric Gyamfi

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A man in a tanktop, sweating and lying on the floor.

Atsu after a dance session. He says, “My stepfather is very open-minded. I can sense that he is not so happy about [my pursuing] dance, as he doesn’t think I can make a career out of it. But he is happy that I am happy when I dance, so that’s good for me. The first song I usually dance to is my father’s.”

© Eric Gyamfi

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A group of people wearing white.

A night of dance. Some members of the LGBT community organize a night of dance after the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia event as a way to network and get to know other community members.

© Eric Gyamfi

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A teenager with a toothbrush and a man holding a toothbrush and a small boy.

Nana, Razak, and Nana’s nephew clean in the morning. Nana and Razak live together and have been together for close to two years. Nana is a chef and Razak is a musician.

© Eric Gyamfi

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A man lying down and resting his head on another man's lap.

Eric and his best friend, Yaw. Eric is an artist and Yaw is an academic. Eric identifies as a bisexual, Yaw identifies as a straight man. They work together and have been friends since college.

© Eric Gyamfi

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A group of men in a car laughing while one sits on the hood.

Henry, Alex, Oliver, Mensah, and Yaw hang out on a Sunday on the way to a chop bar for a happy hour they organized. The day before, Henry’s friend Adwoa and Ivy were married.

© Eric Gyamfi

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Groups of men gathered outdoors, some of whom are embracing and posing for the camera.

Friends get together from various parts of the country to celebrate the Aboakyer festival, an annual festival held in May. One feature of festivals in Ghana, is that those who have moved to other parts of the country due to work, school, or other reasons take advantage of these occasions to return home briefly to reunite with friends and family.

© Eric Gyamfi

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Two men lying in a bed, one with his head resting on the other's torso.

Desmond and Richie. Desmond studies communications and Richie is a nurse. They have been in a relationship for a year and live together. Richie is good friends with Henry.

© Eric Gyamfi

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A woman lying on a couch with another woman resting against it, and a boy dancing for them.

Little Nii performs for Ivy and Rahel. Nii is Ivy’s son from her previous relationship. Although Ivy and Rahel are no longer together, they remain close friends.

© Eric Gyamfi

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A man lying on a couch.

Samuel Ofori contemplates marriage to his soon-to-be wife. Samuel is a gay man. He will be married in six months to a woman selected for him by his family. He says, “I need a child. My parents are demanding a grandchild too.”

© Eric Gyamfi

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Two women kissing outside while another women looks at them.

Shana meets Ama after work. Shana and Ama are a couple. Shana is a musician and Ama is studying for her master’s degree focusing on feminism and climate change.

© Eric Gyamfi

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Two women sitting at a table, laughing.

Shana and Ama at lunch. They are a couple and both volunteer teaching at a program that helps children with various learning disabilities.

© Eric Gyamfi
Eric Gyamfi

Eric Gyamfi (Ghanaian, b. 1990) is a lens-based artist living in Accra, Ghana, who uses his work as a window to explore and help bridge realities that exist both inside and outside of his own experiences. He is currently a second-year fellow attending the annual Goethe-Institut Photographer’s Master Class (Khartoum, 2016; Nairobi, 2017). Gyamfi is also a recipient of the Magnum Emergency Fund (2016) and participated in the World Press Photo Foundation Masterclass West Africa (Accra, 2017).

Gyamfi received a bachelor’s degree in information studies and economics from the University of Ghana (2014) and studied photography at the Nuku Studio in Accra. The Open Society Moving Walls Grant will support the expansion of his “Just Like Us” project, including a touring exhibition and public programming. 

Artist Statement

Eric Gyamfi

Who are the friends and couples in these photographs and how do they live their everyday lives? What are their motivations and beliefs? How do their lives and experiences intersect with mine? How similar or different are we?

The photographs in Just Like Us are the beginnings of an ever-evolving journal on the lives of some of my queer friends in Ghana, whom I consider to be collaborators of the work.

As I meet more queer people in Ghana, they will continue to help expand this visual record of daily life that exists outside, yet also inside and alongside, heteronormative society.

Just Like Us attempts to represent queer people in Ghana as both members of a distinct community as well as critical contributors to the country’s social fabric and history. Although this project uses sexuality as a starting point, its aim is to photograph people as they are, alongside all of their other intersecting identities and interests.

In showing queer people here in Ghana as their whole selves, I aim to provide a starting point for conversations and challenge preconceived notions of what queer people look like and how queerness is represented.

—Eric Gyamfi, October 2017

Moving Walls is an annual documentary photography exhibition produced by the Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project. Moving Walls is exhibited at our offices in New York, London, and Washington, D.C., and includes five to nine discrete bodies of work.

Since 1998, the Moving Walls exhibition series has showcased nearly 200 photographers in 24 group exhibitions that align with the Open Society Foundations’ mission to advance human rights and social justice.

Are You a Photographer?

Please check back for details on the next call for proposals for Moving Walls.

Plan a Visit

Moving Walls 24: Here We Are will be open free of charge to the public at the Open Society Foundations–New York from October 4, 2017, to July 20, 2018.