The last weekend of July saw the city of Durban become a sea of rainbows as hundreds of LGBTI and gay friendly people marched through the streets on the city’s Pride march.
The Durban Pride Parade which commenced and ended at the Durban City Hall was the city’s first Pride celebration since 2005.
The march was followed by a host of activities which included a fashion show, live music, singing and dance performances which kept the large crowds entertained through out the day.
The theme for the Durban Pride Parade was “I Am”, which organisers said was aimed at remembering the importance of rising above discrimination, ‘hate crimes’, gay-bashing, ‘corrective rape’ and other injustices faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
The Durban Pride Parade was widely supported by LGBTI activist from various organisations.
Welcoming everyone who had converged at City Hall, Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Director of the Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre said “You all look so beautiful. Nice and bright, just as we are as gays and lesbians.”
Dawn Cavanagh, Organisational Director, for the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) said the Durban Pride Parade was “brilliant and a beautiful political moment. Seeing the passion and the people waving… People have been murdered, raped and brutally assaulted, but here we are, powerful in numbers, it was really amazing.”
Cavanagh added, “We see Pride in its best form, as a political statement for our communities in the state of violence, in the face of all violations, that however you feel about us, we will resist any attempt by people who try to erase our visibility and we are here for activists who are fighting for LGBTI rights.”
Bontle Khalo of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organising Committee (EPOC) said it is important for them as EPOC to be visible and form relations with other LGBTI organisations.
“It is very important for us to be out here and be abreast of issues that happen in the rest of the country and to represent EPOC and Ekurhuleni. Hate crimes are everywhere and it is our struggle.”
Khalo also encouraged the LGBTI community in Durban to also come and support the Ekurhuleni Pride March saying, “We encourage them to come and also march with us. Our marches are still political in fighting against the struggles faced by LGBTI people.”
The Durban Pride Parade was a conclusion of the week long festivities which included Flag Raising Ceremony which was then followed by an LGBT Movie Festival, High School debates on bullying in schools, a cheese and wine read-a-thon and the Mr and Ms Pride contest.
Asked about the significance of Pride openly gay, Ruby Phewa said “Pride sets me free, it’s about showing people that we are out there and we are proud to be here.”
According to the organisers Durban Pride celebrations of this kind had not taken place since June 2005.
Baby Rawlins, Director for Zeep Productions, who were also part of the organisers of the Durban Pride Parade, lauded Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Director for the Centre.
“Nonhlanhla and her team did a great job, I salute her, today covered everything, all our hard work,” she said.
Asked about the importance of parents being supportive of their children regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, Rawlins said, “As a parent you do not pick what your child becomes and if parents are supportive, their children can be confident as well.
She added, “If you are a parent and you’re not supportive of your gay or lesbian child, you are missing out a lot. I am part and parcel of my child’s joy, it’s important for parents to also love and respect their kids being gay and lesbian as it’s not a choice, it’s who they are.”
Rawlins pointed out that going forward into organising next year’s pride they want to surpass what they achieved this year.
“We are going to triple these numbers, Jo’burg Pride watch out,” she said.
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