by Lindiwe Dhlamini
It is that time of the year in Gauteng where LGBTIAQ+ Pride protests and celebrations take place. On the 14th of September 2019 I had the opportunity to attend Ekurhuleni Pride. Celebrating its 11thyear; for the first time ever, it took place in Daveyton hosted by EPOC LGBTI and Daveyton Uthingo – The Rainbow which are both LGBTIAQ+organizations in that area. The theme was LGBTIAQ+ and religion which saw members of the LGBTIAQ+ community marching in their religious uniforms in celebration of who they are.
It was particularly fascinating to see Reverends in their clerical gowns, in attendance and leading the Pride march. Rev. Klass, Rev. Nokuthula Dhladhla, Rev. Sibisi, Rev. Emma and Rev. Tebogo Moema marched proudly around the streets of Daveyton shouting, “End homophobia in churches, communities and our homes”, “End Gender Based Violence and End Xenophobia”.Escorted by a Brass Band that serenaded the crowd with both gospel and protest songs in efforts to create awareness that is so badly needed in townships about the existence of LGBTIAQ+ people. Representatives from The City of Ekurhuleni were among those who came to show their support and to address the crowd about its plans to work together in advancing LGBTIAQ+ rights.
Also, in attendance were; Ekurhuleni Metro, South African Police Service, Department of Health, Aurum, Access Chapter 2, Daveyton TV and guests from Tshwane, eMalahleni and other surrounding areas in the East Rand. I was there with Inkanyiso Crew to document this historical event; importantly, to go and visit one of the organizers Lesiba Mothibe in hospital. Lesiba is a member of EPOC LGBTI and a Brave Beauties participant a photographical project by Professor/Sir Zanele Muholi, documenting the lives of transwomen. What a strong beautiful woman who was still helping to organize Pride while lying in a hospital bed; from all of us at Inkanyiso Media we wish her a speedy recovery.
At the park where the rest of the festivities for Pride were taking place, I had the opportunity to interact with some of the people through the #SelfieWithLindiwe for Instagram and Facebook. I met a lot of interesting people who were very keen and excited to take selfie’s and have recorded conversations about their experience at the first ever Pride to be held in Daveyton. I had a wonderful time interacting with the people and hearing some of the most beautiful and inspiring stories about love, art, life, issues affecting the youth etc. I also enjoyed meeting Queer parents who came with their children to Pride. The community of Daveyton came out to support even though some of them did not know what the event was about. I met some of the Queer identifying people who were attending Pride for the first time. “I have never been to Pride before because it always takes place far from Daveyton and I cannot afford the transportation fee. I am very happy that this time they thought of us gay people who are unemployed and brought it to our neighborhood. It is very nice being here!” – Thabiso Pooe
It was a bit disappointing not to see some of the well-known LGBTIAQ+ organizations and activists from Gautengin support Ekurhuleni Pride. This was a concern that was raised by some of the attendees at Pride. While doing voice pops, I met Busisiwe Nhlapo an out and proud bisexual identifying mother who expressed; “I am very happy that finally Pride came to Daveyton it is amazing to see our community coming out to support us. However, it is sad to see that people from Soweto are not here to support us but we always go to support them”. Speaking to some of the organizers of the event they also expressed their dismay at the lack of support from the big organizations and activists from around Gauteng. Nonetheless, the success of the event and the community support made the 11th anniversary of Ekurhuleni Pride spectacular.
Although we missed some of the performances that took place as we had to go to the hospital to see Lesiba; the reviews from the people I interviewed were great to say the least. I saw some of them on social media and I can attest that; LGBTIAQ+ talent deserves bigger stages and audience. The support from the community of Daveyton was good some of them did not know what the event was about while others had a clue. I loved that those who knew that it was Pride came prepared to educate while having fun. I do applaud the organizers for working hard to put that event together and ending it successfully with no reports of any violence. I do hope all the stakeholders who attended and gave speeches of support do follow through and do more to educate people in Ekurhuleni about LGBTIAQ+ people.
LGBTIAQ+ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans*, Intersex, Asexual and Queer/Questioning+