by Esau Dlamini
A mammoth number of Lesbian, Gay,Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI) community from different townships and surburbs converged at Hillbrow in Constitution Hill for the Johannesburg People’s Pride march for Freedom and Justice on Saturday, the 5th of October.
Rainbow colours were the order of the day, with the sun shinning bright as the music blared from the stage with various performances by artists, including the crowds favourite poet, Lebo Mashile, who delivered a poem about sanctity of the human body.
Organiser Kwezilomso Mbandazayo “We want to embark on issues of Inequality, Xenophobia, Education, and we want erotic justice for all. We are People’s Pride and we don’t support any political groups,” lamented Mbandazayo. The march also supported sex workers, HIV positive people and the handicapped.
Activist and filmmaker, Bev Ditsie said that when the first Pride was held, only a small number of people attended and eventually it grew to approximately 800 in Hillbrow when other people came out from Skyline, which was a popular joint for gay people at the time.
“Simon Nkoli and I organized the inaugural Gay Pride in 1990 and those are very important and memorable years for People‘s Pride has recalled Ditsie.”
Thokozani Ndaba, an activist and performing artist showed up blind-folded as a Raped lady of Justice, with flamboyant handwritten banners and posters addressing LGBTI issues. People shared their different opinions and perspectives about their day at Pride.
“I have become disenchanted and jaded about these marches because it’s no longer like before, Pride has lost its value. Now it’s more drinking than marching” said Bennedicta Sekoati (21), from Duduza in the East Rand. ‘’I got mugged and attacked when I was coming from Joburg Pride last year that left me with a very negative impact.”
Sifiso Sithole (30), an openly gay man, from Soweto said that it is imperative for people to attend pride marches because they mark a return to human rights activism, especially against hate crimes. “I respect this day as it serves as a commemoration for people like Simon Nkoli,” he said.
Filmmaker and activist, Xana Nyilenda (25), said that her experience at People’s Pride was one that was confusing and disconcerting.
“I was quite astonished because I had expected that this one in particular would be as fun as, if not more exciting than the Soweto Pride. I found that the location did not even give me enough freedom to be myself or allow me to be a bit more comfortable with being there, I felt alienated.”
Former BBC broadcaster Alice Arnold spoke out about the importance of Pride in June at London Community Pride this year, saying that it is a “party message” and that it is still crucial for LGBTI community. “Pride is a party with a message – a message to show that we are happy, proud and confident to be who we are. Let us celebrate what we have already achieved and brace ourselves for the fight that is still ahead of us” she said.