Right now Zimbabwe is in the midst of a constitutional reform process. One of things we as a community was hoping for was recognition of the rights of LGBTIQ (for those that need a translation – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, inter-sex, queer and questioning) individuals. Unfortunately, it seems as though that is highly unlikely. I was surprisingly fine with that until recently when the local newspapers have been awash with stories about how the drafters are trying to “smuggle” in LGTBIQ rights. Politicians are using this issue to try to seem “in touch” with the concerns of the people. But Mr. Politician, most Zimbabweans don’t care or want to know about who I sleep with. There are bigger issues at hand in our country; the power cuts, the high cost of living, the high unemployment rate, the dismal state of government run institutions especially hospitals and schools, the rapidly deteriorating road networks… I could go on and on. Rather than focus on that, they want deflect and redirect the real issues at hand. These politicians are doing nothing but maliciously reciting hate speech that could endanger the lives of people. And I say shame on you Ignatius Chombo, Jonathan Moyo, Sithokozile Mathuthu, Angeline Masukuand others like them. Focus on the stuff that counts. Don’t scapegoat innocent people when you are the ones who have connived to plunge the country into its sorry state currently. Fix your messes and leave us out of it! We only wish we were that powerful to affect the course of our country’s history like that. But the one good thing about all this is that at least the politicians are acknowledging our existence, and isn’t that one of the steps towards total acceptance.
I’ve been blind-sided. My boyfriend, remember him – we’re calling him Kay, told me last night that he thinks he’s not gay. Oh, but he still loves me! How the hell am I supposed to respond to that? We’ve been together for nearly a year and half and he springs this on me right at the moment when I was ready to ask him to spend the rest of my life with him. It’s something we’ve gone through before and something we got over before. But am I supposed to go through this again and again? Am I supposed to believe that he really loves me or is he just staying with me out of pity? I don’t want to be that guy. I know I said before that I would let him be with somebody else as long as I knew that he loved me. But now, I don’t know. Living in this country means that there’s nobody I can talk to. I mean, he’s my best friend as well as my lover. How am I supposed to discuss this with him? I feel so lost and alone right now.
I have a confession to make. I always talk like I don’t fit the stereotype of the young gay man, but alas I do. I love wearing jewellery! I can’t leave the house without at least one accessory hanging round my neck, dangling on my writs or adorning my fingers. I feel naked without them. My family, friends and bf have all come round and accepted it as part of who I am. The other day though, a new guy at work saw my rings (I wear two) and asked what they meant. I know he wanted to ask me if I was gay, but I let him struggle and stumble with his words as I played dumb! I probably should have just told him what he wanted to hear, but it was hilarious watching him squirm. But then again my policy has always been, and I’m sure always will be, ask and you shall be answered. So to those out there who want to know something, take your heads out of the sand and ask me already!
HIFA – the Harare International Festival of the Arts – has come and gone. It was a six-day feast and celebration of the artistic spirits of Zimbabweans. It is also, perhaps, the largest single gathering of the gays in Zimbabwe. It’s the one week when you are sure to bump into the widest cross section of Zimbabwe’s gays. I was lucky to rub shoulders with the A-gays (a term I borrow from the wildly funny yet unrealistic US version of Queer As Folk – where were the poor or Black or Hispanic gays?). Who are the A-gays? That group of gays who are wickedly wealthy and seem to run the town. They are always seen in the right places with the right people wearing the right clothing. I may not have qualified yet to be one, but I’m well on my way. In fact, my bf and I have been taken under the wing of one of the A-gays; we playfully refer to him as our Don or Fairy God-Father! I’m looking forward to seeing where this relationship is going to take us…
What does it mean to be young, black, gay and Zimbabwean in Zimbabwe today? That’s a question this blog was supposed to be exploring. Instead, in the few posts I’ve made, I’ve chosen to dwell on my own personal issues – the micro rather than the macro. But then again, for people to fully grasp our issues it is important to tell individual stories. And since my journey is the most readily available to me, that’s the one I will tell. I just don’t want anybody to feel that my journey is typical to all young, black, gay Zimbos. It’s my journey, my life, and how I live it is a reflection of me and not the whole community.