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Zimbabwe LGBT activists celebrate Robert Mugabe’s resignation

Former president ruled country with an iron fist for 37 years

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Robert Mugabe on Nov. 21, 2017, resigned as the president of Zimbabwe. LGBT rights advocates in the country have celebrated his resignation. (Photo public domain)

Robert Mugabe on Tuesday resigned as the president of Zimbabwe

He submitted his resignation — which took effect immediately — less than a week after the country’s military placed him under house arrest. The military moved against Mugabe after he fired Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in an apparent attempt to allow his wife, Grace Mugabe, to succeed him.

Members of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front or ZANU-PF on Sunday voted to remove Robert Mugabe as their party leader. ZANU-PF members also expelled Grace Mugabe from the party.

Robert Mugabe remained defiant in a speech he gave on Zimbabwean television on Sunday, even though ZANU-PF said lawmakers would seek to remove him from office if he didn’t resign by 12 p.m. local time on Monday. The Zimbabwean Parliament on Tuesday began impeachment proceedings against Robert Mugabe before he resigned.

Robert Mugabe, 93, ruled Zimbabwe since the country’s independence from the U.K. in 1980. His government has frequently targeted LGBT activists, opposition leaders and other groups.

Robert Mugabe in 1995 described gays and lesbians as “dogs and pigs.”

He said in a 2013 speech he gave in the city of Masvingo said gay men and lesbians “should rot in jail.”

Robert Mugabe in the same year told supporters in another speech that authorities should arrest gay men and lesbians who don’t conceive children. Robert Mugabe also criticized the Anglican Church for blessing same-sex marriage and then-President Obama over his support of the issue.

Robert Mugabe has described homosexuality as “inhuman.” Robert Mugabe in a 2014 speech that marked Zimbabwe’s independence from the U.K. threatened to expel foreign diplomats who promote LGBT rights in the country.

More than 30 people were injured in 2014 when a group of men attacked an LGBT rights organization’s end-of-the-year party. Zimbabwe is among the dozens of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual acts remain criminalized.

’We live in hope’

Zimbabwean LGBT rights advocates are among those who celebrated Robert Mugabe’s resignation.

“GALZ receives the news of the resignation of Robert Mugabe with much jubilation,” said GALZ, an LGBT and intersex advocacy group that is based in the Zimbabwean capital of Harare, in a statement. “Since 1995 GALZ has been on the receiving end of the brutality and hate of Robert Mugabe’s aversion to diversity. We are ecstatic that the face of brutality, hate and impunity has resigned.”

Ricky “Ricki” Nathanson of the Trans Research, Education, Advocacy and Training (TREAT) program spoke with the Washington Blade from the city of Bulawayo after Robert Mugabe resigned.

“It is with such relief and joy to hear of the resignation of the ex-president of Zimbabwe, Robert Gabriel Mugabe,” said Nathanson. “When he took over, we thought that it would usher in a new independent country. But that independence was only experienced in certain areas and not across the board.”

“Certainly members of the LGBTI community felt the brunt of his homophobia as evidenced by his outspokenness on them,” added Nathanson. “His ‘pigs and dogs’ speech has gone down in history at his intolerance of this marginalized population.”

Mnangagwa is expected to be Zimbabwe’s interim president until elections take place in 2018.

“We only hope that the new leadership coming in can address his many wrongs,” Nathanson told the Blade, referring to Robert Mugabe. “It’s early days yet, but we live in hope.”

Jeffrey Smith, executive director of Vanguard Africa, a D.C.-based organization that promotes democracy and human rights in Africa, described Robert Mugabe’s resignation to the Blade as a “tremendous opportunity for the people of Zimbabwe to finally, after decades of callous misrule and brutality, to reclaim their country.” Smith also echoed Nathanson’s optimism about Zimbabwe’s future.

“Tough and challenging days surely lie ahead,” Smith told the Blade. “But my experience working in the country and working with activists over the years tells me that Zimbabweans are surely up to the task.”

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‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols dies at 89

George Takei tweets ‘we lived long and prospered together’

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(Screenshot/YouTube The Smithsonian Channel)

She was a groundbreaking cultural icon who broke barriers in a time of societal upheaval and battling for the civil rights of Black Americans. An actress, a mother and thoroughly devoted to the legions of fans of “Star Trek,” Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Nyota Uhura, has died at 89.

The announcement on her Facebook page by her son read:

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Friends, Fans, Colleagues, World

I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years.

Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.

Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all.

I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.

Live Long and Prosper,

Kyle Johnson

Nichols was born in Robbins, Ill., in 1932, according to her IMDb page. Legendary composer Duke Ellington “discovered” Nichols and helped her become a singer and dancer. She later turned to acting, and joined Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek,” where she played Uhura from 1966 to 1969.

Out actor George Takei who played ‘Sulu’ on Star Trek the original series with Nichelle Nichols who played Lt. Nyota Uhura, at a Star Trek convention in this undated photo. (George Takei/Twitter)

It was in that role of Uhura that Nichols not only broke barriers between races, most famously her onscreen kiss, the first between a Black person and a white person, with castmate William Shatner, who played Capt. James T. Kirk, but she also became a role model for young Black women and men inspiring them to seek out their own places in science, technology, and other human endeavors.

In numerous interviews over the years Nichols often recalled how the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a fan of the show and praised her role and personally encouraged her to stay with the series.

When the first series ended Nichols went on to become a spokesperson for NASA, where she “helped recruit and inspire a new generation of fearless astronauts.” She later reprised her role in several successful “Star Trek” films and continued to advocate for the advancement of Black Americans especially in the areas of science and technology.

Formerly a NASA deputy administrator, Frederick Gregory, now 81, told the Associated Press he once saw an advertisement in which Nichols said “I want you to apply for the NASA program.”

“She was talking to me,” he recounted. The U.S. Air Force pilot would apply and later become the first African American shuttle pilot.

President Joe Biden weighed in Sunday afternoon on her passing in a statement issued by the White House:

In Nichelle Nichols, our nation has lost a trailblazer of stage and screen who redefined what is possible for Black Americans and women.
 
A daughter of a working-class family from Illinois, she first honed her craft as an actor and singer in Chicago before touring the country and the world performing with the likes of Duke Ellington and giving life to the words of James Baldwin.
 
During the height of the Civil Rights Movement, she shattered stereotypes to become the first Black woman to act in a major role on a primetime television show with her groundbreaking portrayal of Lt. Uhura in the original Star Trek. With a defining dignity and authority, she helped tell a central story that reimagined scientific pursuits and discoveries. And she continued this legacy by going on to work with NASA to empower generations of Americans from every background to reach for the stars and beyond.
 
Our nation is forever indebted to inspiring artists like Nichelle Nichols, who show us a future where unity, dignity, and respect are cornerstones of every society.

Nichols son said that services will be private for family members and her closest friends.

In 2008 the actress at a news conference, coordinated by the filmmakers of the motion picture “TRU LOVED,” in honor of the more than 900 students at Los Angeles’ Miguel Contreras Learning Complex’s School of Social Justice who participated in the GLSEN Day of Silence.

Nichelle Nichols speaks on LGBTQ rights:

Her fellow castmate and life long friend, openly Out actor George Takei shared his sadness on hearing of Nichols’ passing on Twitter:

From the September 2016 edition of the Smithsonian Channel: “Star Trek’s decision to cast Nichelle Nichols, an African American woman, as major character on the show was an almost unheard-of move in 1966. But for black women all over the country, it redefined the notions of what was possible.”

Star Trek’s Nichelle Nichols on Uhura’s Radical Impact:

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Miscellaneous

Emma Corin becomes first nonbinary person featured on cover of American Vogue

The star of The Crown opened up about their identity.

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Emma Corrin Jamie Hawkesworth/Vogue

Emma Corin was announced as the cover star of the August edition of Vogue. It’s the first time a nonbinary person is featured on the cover of American Vogue.

Corin posted the cover photo and wrote, “My grin really says it all! A huge honour to be your August cover.”

In early 2021, Corin quietly came out as a queer and nonbinary, changing pronouns to “she/they” in their instagram bio. Currently Corin sticks to pronouns “they/them.”

“I feel much more seen when I’m referred to as ‘they,’ but my closest friends, they will call me ‘she,’ and I don’t mind, because I know they know me,” Corin explained during the interview with Vogue.

Corin stated that they’ve still gone on dates with various kinds of people and set no limit on who they date. “I like people,” they simply said and shrugged.

Corin also shared some of their dating experiences. “My first date with a girl, they were like, Oh! You’re a baby queer!” Corin said, “It was amazing. We actually didn’t end up seeing each other again, but she really gave me the lowdown.”

Besides, Corin was frank about their conflicting feelings towards gender and sexuality issues. “I’m working out all this complex gender and sexuality stuff. And yet, I’m seeing a guy? That feels very juxtaposed, even if I’m very happy.”

Corin is known for playing Diana on the Netflix series The Crown.

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Become a Blade Member Today

Your financial contribution will make vital LGBTQ journalism possible at a time when clear, concise news is needed more than ever.

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(POOL PHOTO/United States Senate Press Photographers Gallery)

APRIL FOOLS!

But you can support LGBTQ Journalism by becoming a Blade Member today!

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