The LBQ community is at a risk of isolation, being a minority within minority groups, in the case of Zimbabwe, as it seeks to create a network of its own for self-sufficiency and sustainability.
Women continue to be the backbone of most economies through their paid and unpaid work. Their efforts, unfortunately, are summed up in the value of how and what others can benefit from them. This is the foundation of violence against women. Violence against women and in particular Lesbian Bisexual and Queer (LBQ) women transcends the physical. It is experienced in other minute economic facets such as employment, access to opportunities and inclusion. The discourse of inclusion being the key indicator of disparity between those that are on the margins of society, the pariahs, and those that provide opportunity and access. The LBQ community is at a risk of isolation, being a minority within minority groups, in the case of Zimbabwe, as it seeks to create a network of its own for self-sufficiency and sustainability.
Funding trends have fuelled this disparity by creating competition for the most relevant “oppression”, widening the gap of acceptance and tolerance even further. While it does increase the inclusion of queer people in institutions, this inclusion is mostly tokenistic or a means to an end – “ticking the boxes.” Gay men are generally hired more than queer women and LBQ activities are funded much less compared to Gay and Bisexual mens’ activities, especially in health-related issues. The double-burden of women (as caretaker and provider) in Africa, resulting in women’s education being sacrificed means that women, therefore, tend to have the least education and experience which is something funders now consider. Lived experiences, however, are no longer sufficient to secure resources and LBQ organising is thus limited to the whims of those that provide resources.
Discriminatory laws and societal attitudes mean that LBQ women are judged on their appearance and the proximity of that appearance to masculinity more than what they hold and can deliver. Feminine looking women tend to have it easier in the beginning, however, over time, the lack of rumours about affairs with men or declining advances from men, for example, mean that they are less likely to be promoted or advanced in some institutions.
The portrayal of women is rigid and perpetuates stereotypes of what the ideal should be, further limiting the chances of those who do not fit this ideal
Lack of information and freedom of expression leave LBQ women on a continuous cycle of puberty, experiencing things much later in life and many of them as a first, limiting their views and perceptions of the world and their experiences to the context in which they reside, which is heterosexual and patriarchal; limiting their potential even more. In Zimbabwe, the number of successful business women who are popular and openly LBQ women is technically non-existent.
The portrayal of women is rigid and perpetuates stereotypes of what the ideal should be, further limiting the chances of those who do not fit this ideal. Resources have long been a weapon among the rich and poor boldly bolstered by colonialism and capitalism. The idea that African women could have a different and better experience than that set out by the past, is an opportunity that Africa missed and Zimbabweans choose to look aside.
Exclusion, marginalisation and discrimination supersede humanity and citizenship. There are no mechanisms, for the marginalised, to express economic injustice and exclusion, especially in a country that sees difference as a crime. Internationally as well, some countries advance while others push back what we perceived as progress but in all that, women’s rights, women’s advancement, is continuously traded and sacrificed, the status of LBQ women even more so!