Bradley Fortuin lives in Botswana. He is 26 years old and gay. His mother died of AIDS when he was only 9 years old. Bradley now lives with his uncle in Gaborone. Bradley’s uncle is a priest and has great difficulties with Bradley’s sexuality. He does not accept it at all and says it is ‘un-African’. Bradley finds it difficult to be entirely himself in the presence of his uncle. Religion somehow gets in the way. His uncle tells Bradley that he will go to hell.
As a child I prayed to God to make me like all the other boys. I wanted to be ‘normal’. I would sit in church and pray and make ‘bargains’ with God, that if he made me straight I would be a good boy and serve Him for the rest of my life. I hated myself and thought it was a punishment.
Bradley is one of the three storytellers in the Bridging the Gaps photo exhibition “More focus on Key Population in Ending AIDS”, which is displayed today in the Beurs van Berlage, for the occasion of World AIDS Day.
Lilianne Ploumen, Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation was the first person to visit the exhibition. The Dutch government has a long track record in addressing the rights of marginalised groups regarding sexual and reproductive health. Thanks to the Dutch Key Populations Fund, the Bridging the Gaps Alliance was able to reach more than one million people with HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services that match their needs. Moreover, the Netherlands has committed to invest another five years in the health and rights of key populations. As a way to express our gratitude for her support in the international HIV response, Ton Coenen, Executive Director of Aids Fonds presented her with a photo of Bradley on behalf of the Bridging the Gaps alliance.
The Bridging the Gaps Alliance is a joint initiative of four Dutch NGOs (Aids Fonds, Aids Foundation East-West (AFEW), COC Netherlands, and Mainline), five global networks (GNP+, INPUD, ITPC and NSWP) and more than 90 community based organisations.