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I Do! I Do?
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Who Wants to Marry a Feminist? by Lisa Miya-Jervis
>What, Me Marry? by Ms. Staffers

A Special Report on the Fertility Industry:
What Price Pregnancy?

Since the birth of the first "test tube baby," assisted reproductive technologies have been hailed as medical miracles. Ms. goes behind the hype. >by Ann Pappert

IN THE MAGAZINE:

MARRIAGE NOW
- Both Sides Now:
She married at 18 and instead of finding bliss, she became a shrinking woman. Now, at 54, marriage is on her mind again.
- Marriage Vegas Style
In this desert empire 295 couples marry every day.
-Who Wants to Marry a Feminist?
But the real question is why do feminists want marriage?
-Otherwise Engaged
The issue of same-sex marriage has sparked an impassioned debate. Asked if she would marry if she could, this author takes a long hard look at the institution and herself.

-What, Me Marry?

A SPECIAL REPORT ON THE FERTILITY INDUSTRY
-What Price Pregnancy?
Ms. goes behind the hype of assisted reproductive technologies.
PLUS:
-Inconceivable
When it comes to fertility treatments, gender makes all the difference.

BERLIN DIARIES
Her immediate family fled Germany before being swept up in the Holocaust, but they forever mourned the loved ones who didn't survive and the life they'd once shared.

Ms.Cellaneous:
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NEWS:
-The Struggle to Preserve Reproductive Rights
- Laws of Entrapment
- Taxing Menstruation
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- Austria Ditches Women's Ministry
- Opinion: Partial-Truth Abortion
- $5 and a Dream
- Czech Mate
- Newsmaker: Lisa Oberg
- Women Organizing Worldwide: Reports from Philippines, Mexico, Zimbabwe, and the Internet

YOUR WORK:
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From 1995 to 1997, GALZ members were constantly harassed by the police, politicians, and the public. State-run newspapers refused to carry GALZ ads yet published letters from readers who denounced homosexuality as immoral. Zimbabwe's Catholic Church fanned the antigay fires when the bishop's newsletter referred to homosexuality as a "disorder." Tiripano, an ex-Catholic, rolls her eyes at that. "I used to go to church," she says, "but when they said, 'Homosexuality is condemned by God,' I said, 'Fuck off,' and stayed home."

 

A newly politicized Tiripano did, however, want to join activist organizations beyond GALZ, but she encountered homophobia there, too. "Other NGOs said we [GALZ members] should go to the psychiatric unit to be cured," she says. Even Amnesty had trouble finding backing in the region. Tor Olsen, Amnesty's London-based researcher for southern Africa, explains, "Political partners were saying, 'We support the issues, but not publicly. It'll damage our image.'" Tiripano has since joined Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), a pan-African women's rights network. But here, too, her sexuality has become an issue. GALZ Program Manager Keith Goddard says, "Tsitsi participates every year as a black lesbian in the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign. But when she tries to sell GALZ T-shirts and put up a stand with GALZ literature, she's told she can't because it will fall foul with the government."

Despite the obvious hardships, many positive things emerged from the 1996 book fair. Amnesty International named Tiripano one of 50 Human Rights Defenders in 1998. International accounts of the book fair helped Tiripano's first girlfriend, now living in Australia, contact her for the first time since they were separated almost 20 years ago. And Tiripano's sons, now 16 and 18, are beginning to understand their mother. Even though Tiripano was able to reconnect with her sons (and her father) in 1988, it was only after the 1996 book fair that she and her children could honestly discuss her sexual identity. "They asked so many questions," Tiripano says. "'Mom, what's a lesbian?' 'Why do the police want to put you in jail?' 'Did you steal something?' It took me time to explain. One day, they finally asked, 'Is Auntie Zandele [Tiripano's girlfriend of four years] gay, too?'"

Tiripano has received thousands of letters of support from all around the world. GALZ has also benefited from her exposure. An Internet fund-raising campaign allowed the group to open a center in Harare that offers counseling, legal services, an HIV/AIDS support group, and a hot line. The weekly Friday night parties, which began as a social refuge, are now fund-raisers for political programs. Membership, currently 320 strong, is mushrooming, and its impact is rippling into Zimbabwe's heterosexual community. "Last week, a couple came to support their son because he was gay," Tiripano says, amazed. Even more stunning, Tiripano's husband joined GALZ in January. "He told me he is joining GALZ because he supported our tremendous work and appreciated the support we have given his wife," recalls Goddard. Tiripano was flabbergasted. She has remained married to her husband for the sake of the boys, because he pays their tuition. But she can't say when, or why, he had a change of heart.

Tiripano does know, however, that things are getting better for gays in Zimbabwe. Last year GALZ became a member of the National Constitutional Assembly, which was formed by NGOs that lobbied successfully for a new constitution to be voted on by the people, not only parliament. GALZ later submitted a request to the Constitutional Commission--400 Mugabe appointees--to include a sexual orientation clause. Though its request was rejected, GALZ's campaign was covered on state television and radio for the first time. The increased awareness can be felt on the streets. "If Zandele and I are walking," Tiripano says, "people used to whisper 'lesbians,' 'ngochani.'" She hisses the words as if they burn her lips. "But now, they aren't saying anything."

Despite the progress, lesbians and gays are certainly not home free. In 1998, as Mugabe's popularity hit rock bottom, he launched a new witch-hunt. The state-run papers published stories about homosexuals raping men at gunpoint and claimed GALZ was a front for a brothel, which incited public rage. Several GALZ members were harassed, blackmailed, and arrested. Tiripano is unfazed. "If Mugabe shouts, it doesn't change me to become straight," she says. "I've been through too much."

When not traveling, she's at the new GALZ center in Harare at least twice a week, counseling people who are coming to terms with their sexuality, as well as those living with HIV/AIDS. But most important, Tiripano is an inspiration. Goddard explains, "She stood up and said, 'I'm a black lesbian, and I'm not ashamed. I have children, and I'm married, but this is my identity.'"

Liz Welch is a freelance writer living in New York City.