A discussion on visibility of lesbian women creates an opportunity to understand what it
means to Zimbabwean lesbian identifying women to be 'lesbian' and how that identity is
visibilised or invisibilised depending on resulting benefit or possible detriment. The study
investigates the experiences of lesbian women in Zimbabwe which have been subsumed in
a 'homosexual' visibility discourse. Placing the focus of lesbian identity on the visibility
locus helps foreground the possibilities and paradoxes of how visibility of an identity
impacts personal experience.
The intention of this study is to make lesbian identity more visible, bringing it out of
the shadows where it has been concealed by a homosexuality discourse that revolves
largely around gay men. The study also seeks to understand when visibility matters, for
what purpose and when it may be problematic. My approach does not assume that there
are ahistorical, transcultural truths about lesbian identity. Instead my question tracks the
production of a lesbian identity in Zimbabwe, how it operates and how best its prevailing
operation can be described. How is lesbian identity in/visibilised? What is the social and
political consequence of in/visibility on the experiences of lesbian identifying women in
Zimbabwe? Does a human rights framework positively impact visibility?