Titica, a 25-year-old transgender music star and dancer in Angola, has been made a goodwill ambassador by UNAIDS.
Titica has broken down prejudices to become a major star through her use of rap-techno music called Kuduro in the African country, which is Catholic dominated and still theoretically punishes homosexuality with hard labor.
According to Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), a non- governmental organization, her appointment is likely to be more controversial than any previous goodwill ambassador due to her gender identity.
OSISA, which is committed to deepening of democracy, protecting human rights and enhancing good governance in the region, described Titica’s appointment as a ‘bold’ move.
UNAIDS, the joint United Nation’s program on HIV and AIDS, has a host of goodwill ambassadors, the most globally famous in the LGBT world is Annie Lennox.
In the past it has used Angola’s Miss Universe 2011, Leila Lopes, who was until recently the face of a popular poster campaign to encourage people to get tested for HIV and to condoms.
Last year national basketball player Nacissela Mauricio was made the first formal UNAIDS goodwill ambassador in Angola.
Titica, was born Teca Miguel Garcia and was originally a backing dancer before shooting to fame with the song Chao Chao.
She is famous for hits including Abula and Olha O Boneco which she co-performed with another popular singer Ary. Her song Olha O Boneco has stayed in the first place on the music charts for three weeks in Portugal and for seven weeks on a Brazilian show.
The transgender super star has performed in Brazil, Spain, South Africa, Mozambique and was named best Kuduro artist of 2011.
Titica is a regular on television and radio and even performed for Angola’s long-serving President Jose Eduardo dos Santos at the annual Diva’s concert were she was named a diva last year.
Although flamboyant and a raunchy performer, the transgender musician who has a ballet training declined to answer questions from the BBC on her sexuality but said her new-found stardom had not all been plain sailing.
‘I have been stoned, I’ve been beaten, and there is a lot of prejudice against me, a lot of people show that. There is a lot of taboo,’ she told BBC last year.
Despite those taboos, she has won the hearts of people in Angola who see her as a performer first and transgender second.
She has won a big fan base and her songs are played on public transport minibuses during the day and at dance clubs at night.
Homosexuality is officially illegal in Angola which fought a civil war for 27 years, is punishable by hard labor according to the countries penal code. However there is no record of this law being applied in the country.
New Angolan popular soap opera Windeck produced by one of President Dos Santos son, Jose Eduardo Paulino Dos Santos has gay characters, a sign the southern African country in the future might accept its sexual minority community not only on television but also in real life.
Many Angolans still live in poverty despite the country’s oil weal. The riches generated by the petrochemical industry are siphoned off by government officials, critics claim.