Lesbian author from Zimbabwe fights stigma

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UNITED STATES – Only a teenager when she came to the U.S., Ruth Marimo had already survived scrapes and heartbreaks from the suicide of her mother when she was a young child to her lonely flights to the U.K. and the U.S.

Ruth Marimo
Ruth Marimo

Finally settled on U.S. shores, she married an American citizen, they had two children but wedded bliss turned into a nightmare as she confronted her sexual identity and he turned on her in physical rage.

Her immigration status was the weak link in the chain and her husband reported her to immigration and deportation proceedings ensued.

Fortunately the attempt failed but in the interim, she spent time in detention where she began to jot down her feelings and confront all the truths and issues our society shuns, from racism, illegal immigration, and homosexuality to sexual and domestic abuse.

It was a book for her children – Chido and Simba – who could soon be left abandoned as she was at age 6. She also found hope in accepting herself as an African woman who is gay.

Those notes from prison and beyond have been compiled in a new book called “Freedom of an illegal Immigrant: The Untold Story of My Search for a Place in the World.”

Speaking to Sahara TV’s Fungai Maboreke, Ms. Marimo asserted that she is one among many African women who are lesbian or have such sensibilities but cannot come out in the open due to social, cultural and quasi-political idiosyncrasies.

“I’ve heard endless stories of people who come out to me,” she said. “Some obviously keep it secretive and stay in their heterosexual marriages even though they are having other relationships on the side…”

Now in a same-sex relationship, she and her partner are raising her two girls aged 8 and 4 and her 8 year old is an academic achiever, able to outwit children older than herself in any spelling bee. They live in Omaha, Nebraska, where she attends the Metropolitan Church.

The 33-year-old still writes. She writes poetry, which she reads publicly each month.

Maboreke recalled the intolerance and prejudice against gays displayed by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe when he scorned them as “worse than pigs.” To this, Ruth Marimo retorted: “He is entitled to his opinion, but his opinion does not define who I am”

ruth marimo bookHer book has taken her for readings around the country and between the harshly negative feedback from fellow Africans there have been wonderful supportive emails and Facebook posts. One reviewer on Amazon wrote about the book:

“It’s so powerful and touching that I broke my personal rule against crying in public, TWICE. Ruth has risen above HELL by the grace of God and through her amazing spirit. I encourage everyone who needs to find inner strength to read this.”

Published by AuthorHouse, the book is available online here

Another reviewer wrote: “This is an awesome story of a wonderful woman who, had it not been for her belief in God, probably would not have survived all that she went through. This is one of those books that you start and can’t put down!”

Observers might questions the placement of a woman’s unclothed figure on the book’s cover. She explained: “I’ve taken off all the layers that society has placed on me. I’m living the life I always wanted to live. I’m doing fine!” SaharaReporters.com