COVID 19 response for the LGBTQ community in Zimbabwe.#PrideMonth

Living in Zimbabwe one of the most confusing things you can go through is liking the same sex. A deep reality you are faced with is not only the fear of hate but the fear of losing your own life. 

I remember as a child finding out that there was a jail sentence attached to being different. A jail sentence that extended beyond that of being a rapist. 

In my own life, just the sniff of maybe being a lesbian had me put into a psych ward. I remember my cousin telling me that she would forgive me for anything as long as I never had a girlfriend.

I remember texting my first ever girlfriend as her family moved her away because they thought that distance and some Bible verses could make her straight. 

It didn’t. 

At that point, there was no community for me or a chance of speaking out. See for many in the LGBTQ community being yourself means losing your family or worse, like being locked up with the same people who abuse you. 

These effects are made so much worse by the pandemic as many have not only lost their jobs and ways to earn an income but for many within the LGBTQ community, they have lost their homes too. 

HQ Collective has created a space to not only bring the community together but to raise money and provide aid for those within the LGBTQ community during this time.

”Out of the large percentage of people who regularly struggle to find stable work due to home environments and access to resources, a disproportionate number are LGBTQIA+ Zimbabweans. 

Many members of the community were not formally employed and were not living at home with their families (due to them being forced to leave home, because of familial rejection around their LGBTQIA+ identity). Most are or were staying in rented accommodation. As a result of these conditions, and arising during the lockdown period, many LGBTQIA+ people reported an inability to feed themselves or retain their rented accommodation (due to lack of access to income). Some reported experiencing increased amounts of intimate partner violence and abuse at the hands of family members they were forced to stay with. Many also indicated an inability to access healthcare such as HIV medication and preventatives due to movement restrictions. 

As a result of all the aforementioned, reports of mental health issues have risen drastically in this period. It is disheartening to note that due to widespread social stigma and criminalization of LGBTQIA+ folks, such persons are unable to benefit from many of the aid initiatives launched during the period that could help to mitigate these unique challenges.

We recognize that these issues require a strong response from the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies. We further recognize that such LGBTQIA+ care is and has always been a collective and communal effort. Thus, we want to provide care and mutual aid within and for communities in the face of ongoing infrastructural failure. We will not leave our community behind simply because of an inequitable access to resources. 

Our goal is to gather and distribute funds and aid for one of the most marginalized communities in Zimbabwe, many of whom are without income, healthcare, secure housing, and food during this time as well as after.  Our aim is to raise $15 000 USD to assist as many as 300 queer individuals with $50 stipends, care package (food and household items), mental health resources, rent payment, medical payments.  Even after the lockdown is lifted, we plan to continue supporting members of the LGBTQIA+ community as we anticipate the effects to be long-lasting and unpredictable. Due to the Zimbabwean economy’s hyperinflation, we are no longer able to solely fundraise amongst ourselves. We are therefore expanding this mutual aid project beyond borders and across countries, time zones, and lived experiences.”

To join in this fight and donate please donate through their go fund me page here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/care-andrelief-fund-for-zimbabwe-lgbtqia-community

Or Ecocash to 0788804493

If you or anyone you know would like to apply for aid please do so here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSd7mgbk-VH7ejg9MFTKfqW4qcfSYLys7iowelT0F0w8E0bXAg/viewform

By Amanda Marufu

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