Text by Lindiwe Dhlamini
Photos by Luyanda Mthembu
Often in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual, Queer + (LGBTIAQ+) community we have a tendency not to acknowledge one another. We tend to invisibilize one another without thinking twice about it. Despite the fact that we belong in the same community and have ‘some’ similar struggles that we are fighting for, we have become a community that works as a Pay-As-You-GO.
We are reactionary in our politics and many have given up the fight for equal rights because; the more things change, the more they stay the same. It is very troubling how we as the LGBTIAQ+ community talk and treat each other at events and other spaces that we occupy. What happened to unity, or solidarity as we call it?
What happened to intersectionality in our LGBTIAQ+ Prides?
I attended the Durban LGBTIAQ+ Pride Parade 2016 and I must say I feel that this was my last pride in Durban or any other city that hosts their Pride in the suburbs while visibility is needed more in the townships where our Black LGBTIAQ+ persons are assaulted, raped and murdered daily. I have to admit that LGBTIAQ+ Pride has totally lost context from what was envisioned by the likes of Simon Nkoli, Bev Ditsie and ‘others’ who started pride in South Africa. The political space that was meant to create awareness and highlight the plight of hate crimes that are directed at LGBTIAQ+ persons has now become a frivolous event that is filled with petty politics and liberals who have commodified the space for capital gain.
In my opinion, LGBTIAQ+ Pride has lost the intersectional lens that many of us who are still in it for/with the same politics that is; to create awareness and educate about LGBTIAQ+ in an intersectional lens with hopes of alleviating the hate crimes. We are left with heavy hearts and uncertainty about the future of LGBTIAQ+ Pride. The gender identity/expression, class and race politics have been distorted by the rainbowism bull***t that we are supposedly “equal” according to the constitution of South Africa. Moreover, the residential positionality of the attendants of LGBTIAQ+ Pride is/has been completely disregarded and we need to go back to the drawing board and teach each other what exactly LGBTIAQ+ Pride is about and for who(m) and the importance of LGBTIAQ+ Pride.
I can say one interesting part about my trip to Durban Pride was meeting the participants of Faces and Phases a project by Zanele Muholi. I have written academic assignments about them but, I have never had the pleasure of meeting them face to face. And when I got the opportunity to spend my Sunday afternoon with them, it was an honour to hear their stories in person. Furthermore, I got the pleasure of meeting the participants of the Brave Beauties the new project that Muholi is working on with transwomxn.
Amongst the Brave Beauties, I had the pleasure of meeting a young beautiful transwomxn by the name of Eva. Eva is deaf, and after Muholi alerted me to translate for her through text what was being said in the room, it was only then that I realised that I was also guilty of erasing her in that space. I felt so guilty and angry at myself for not thinking about translating for her before being asked by Muholi. After a while, I had to remind myself that I am human and I am still learning and unlearning a lot of things as a self-identifying Fallist .
The erasure in LGBTIAQ+ Prides is so rife and sickening, it does not only apply to those who live with disabilities but, there are many other people at LGBTIAQ+ Prides who get erased and it is so normalised that we don’t even question it. It is little things such as; ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’ in our greetings. The violence of mis-gendering and erasing those who are gender non-conforming, gender non-binary etc. I remember at last year’s Durban Pride I argued with the organisers for gendering the toilets as ‘Male and Female’. This gender dichotomy was not only perpetuating erasure of those who do not identify with their cis-gendered-ness, but it was violent especially, in a space that is meant to be safe for all who belong under the LGBTIAQ+ community. Therefore, I infer that, it is these little things that we take for granted that contribute to psychological trauma of those who do not fall within the mainstream gender identity/expression(s). And until we commit to learning and unlearning we cannot claim that our LGBTIAQ+ Prides are inclusive and safe for all who identify as LGBTIAQ+. I wish for a pride that is political and speaks to the issues that are affecting us as LGBTIAQ+ persons, I cannot stress the importance of such a Pride especially with so many lives that we have lost in our community.
I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that sees me as a Black lesbian womxn from the township with lack of access to resources such as; safer sex barrier methods, poor health and safety services from government officials. I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that will acknowledges the risk I take to attend an event so far away from my township to create awareness in town, and go back to being victimised and threatened to be ‘corrected’ because of my sexuality in the township. I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that understands and acknowledges my/our intersecting identities as a Black poor womxn/LGBTIAQ+, who cannot afford the exorbitant entrance fees for me to celebrate after Pride party. I want an LGBTIAQ+ Pride that sees me not only as part of LGBTIAQ+ community, but sees my oppressions and addresses them.
I want to be seen, see me, not only when I become another statistic of rape and murder.
 Rainbowism – the concept that came with Nelson Mandela that ‘we’ are a rainbow nation and race does not matter (Fuck that s**t!)
 Fallist – a person who is determine to make all oppressions fall.