Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Zim gay man fears for safety after winning pageant

24 October 2013, 08:34

Harare - And the winner is ... Ezmerald Kim Kardashian.

That was the stage name for a young man who won the title of Miss Jacaranda at a drag queen pageant in Zimbabwe. He refused to give his real name because he feared for his safety in a country whose president has described homosexuals as "worse than pigs and dogs".

The pageant, one of the biggest gay and lesbian events in Zimbabwe, was held discreetly last weekend in an isolated farmhouse on a forest-shrouded hilltop on the outskirts of Harare, the capital.

It was the finale of the annual ZimPride week, in which homosexuals held low-key events, including a film-screening and a launch of "Out in Zimbabwe: Narratives of Zimbabwean LGBTI Youth", a book on experiences of young people coming out about their sexuality to families and society. The events were publicised by word of mouth and messaging on social media.

Sodomy is a crime in Zimbabwe, punishable by at least seven years in prison. President Robert Mugabe has said gays should be castrated. However, there were no police raids on any of this year's gay pride events; gay activists say it is not an offense to dress in drag, a common feature in the nation's amateur theatre productions. Despite anti-gay policy, attacks on people in same-sex relationships are few and isolated to occasional pub brawls.

Some gays speculate that Mugabe, in power for decades, has harshly criticised gays to win popular support and is not intent on enforcing the sodomy law rigorously even though his government exercises tight control over society.

The beauty show on the weekend was named after the purple-flowered jacaranda tree that blossoms at this time of year in Zimbabwe and some other countries in southern Africa. The 17-year-old winner, borrowing the name of the American reality TV star, wore a long, shimmering, purple dress and beat eight other contestants, many wearing makeup, high heels, skimpy beach wear and sequined dresses. Dozens of spectators cheered and whistled at the catwalk.

Safe haven

"I want you all to be proud of who you are, regardless of what anyone thinks about us," pageant organiser Sam Matsipure told contestants.

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe, or GALZ, the group that organised the event said it wanted to celebrate its pride week with a street parade, as in other countries, but feared prosecution or even violence.

The farmhouse provided a safe haven for the young men who vied for the pageant crown, chatting in the dressing room while stuffing rolled socks in each other's bras.

They said the pageant was a way of expressing a femininity that they keep in check while in public.

"Events like these raise my sense of self-worth in a country that hates us," said one participant who goes by the name Coco DaDiva.

In 1996, the GALZ group's first exhibit of literature about homosexuality, safe sex and human rights at the annual Harare International Book Fair was trashed by members of Mugabe's political party, forcing the group to abandon public displays.

It was at the book fair that Mugabe denounced gays as "worse than pigs and dogs" and declared that homosexuals "don't have any rights at all".

Neighbouring South Africa gives full rights to homosexuals, including same-sex marriage, while many other African countries continue to prosecute homosexuals for criminal offenses.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...