While cross-dressing, queerness, homosexuality, and all forms of LGBTIQ+ identities as known today were not widely accepted in day-to-day life in Mozambique, during the 1950s through the 1960s to the mid-1970s, the annual Carnival, which had been taking place from the 1950s, provided an opportunity for [male] femininity, cross-dressing, and queer performances. 

There was no explicit link to what we now recognize as trans or transgender-identifying individuals during this period. The carnivals,  or “Carnivalesque”, held, particularly on Carnival Tuesdays (just before Ash Wednesday), served as a platform for individuals identifying as gay and others who wished to explore gender identity and cross-gender experiences.

Although the Carnival did not appeal to all gay-identifying or queer men interested in experimenting with gender, it undeniably opened the door for those who would identify, as we describe today, as trans. Additionally, it was a joyful and festive time when freedom abounded, and movement was less restricted without societal disapproval. Carnival parties were predominantly hosted in hotels and exclusive venues catering to the middle-income and upper-class, including tourist spaces.

These carnivals continued until 1975 when colonialism ended in Mozambique and the new ruling party, the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO), banned the carnivals.

Image from theconversation.com/queer-life-in-africa-is-also-full-of-joy-remembering-the-carnival-in-mozambique-219165