Thousands of out and proud members of the LGBTI community and their supporters flocked to Zoo Lake on Saturday for the annual Joburg Gay Pride, the biggest event on the Gauteng gay calendar.
Joburg Pride is an annual celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) identity and sexual diversity. It consists of a weeklong festival of cultural, social, activist and entertainment events held in Johannesburg culminating in a street parade followed by a mardi-gras offering entertainment and a platform for community expression.
Some of the events in the week included a roundtable discussion of LGBTI rights organized by the Helen Suzman Foundation in association with the Open Society Foundation for South Africa on September 26 and the first ever African LGBT Business and Human Rights Forum sponsored by amongst others, blue chip firms, IBM, HP and Anglo-American.
Themed “Born This Gay”, this year was the 22nd annual edition of the Joburg Gay Pride and as usual events began with a parade in which members of the LGBTI community wearing purple, pink and other bright colours took to the streets marching from Zoo Lake to the Rosebank Mall and back.
The festivities continued in the afternoon at Zoo Lake Sport Club where more than 25000 people were entertained by local artists and DJ’s such as Lira who rocked the crowd with renditions of some of her most popular hits. There were also performances by a number of fabulous drag acts including one act who sang Lady Gaga’s popular smash hit, Born this Way.
The Joburg Gay Pride Festival is a not-for profit publicly transparent Section 21 company registered in April 2007 (Registration number: 2007/013596/08).
It was constituted to organise the annual Joburg Pride event in a credible and manner on behalf of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community.
The company says on it’s website that it “aims to professionally and responsibly organise a regional annual Pride festival in Gauteng that brings together members of the LGBTI community to create public visibility, celebrate and build confidence in our identity and diversity, and offer an umbrella under which the community can fully develop.”
This year, as always, at such events, there were a number of complaints about the organisation. Some of the revellers who attended complained that the Community Village was “too far away from the action” and others claimed that costs of setting up in the village were prohibitive.
After the event one of the Twitter messages on the official Joburg Pride website said, without mentioning any names,: “I just didn’t feel the ‘oneness’ I normally feel. These people are making the event and us look bad.”
Nevertheless, the majority of the crowds attending seemed quite happy to eat drink, dance and be merry at Zoo Lake and most seemed grateful that the weather held despite predicted showers and thunderstorms.
Meanwhile, Joburg Pride may have come to an end, but the Pride spirit lives on.
While in South Africa Gay Pride is a day on which the LGBTI community and their supporters and well-wishers can celebrate their sexuality as a result of South Africa’s progressive constitution and law, it is worth noting that the LGBTI community in the rest of Africa do not enjoy such freedoms.
However, in an attempt to share the occasion and spread the joy to the wider African LGBTI community across the continent the African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (AMSHeR) is running a competition titled, AMSHeR Pride to celebrate their work towards attaining and defending the right to an empowered and healthy life, and human rights for all on the continent.
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