The 16th annual Cape Town Pride parade made its way through the city on Saturday under the theme of “Love Happens Here”.
The march, the climax of the 10-day LGBTQ festival, started at noon at the Fan Walk, at the beginning of Somerset Road.
The crowds braved the heat wearing colorful outfits, waving rainbow flags and holding up signs affirming LGBTQ equality.
Despite the general show of unity, not everyone felt that Pride was meeting its obligations to deal with the more serious issues facing the community.
The procession was early on brought to a halt due to a ‘protest within a protest’ that sought to highlight hate crimes against the community, in particular black lesbian women, by observing an emotional 15 minutes of silence.
Activists lay down on the road and blocked the march in order to remember and show solidarity with those who had lost their lives.
Cape Town Pride is annually subjected to criticism that it is dismissive of the issues facing black and female members of the community.
This year, activists reportedly planned to disrupt the event but negotiated at the last minute with the organisers to hold the lie-in action during the march.
According to one Pride participant, who asked not be named, emotions soon spilled over during the protest, after some marchers expressed frustration with the 15 minute delay.
“What began as a worthy demonstration turned ugly very quickly when one woman [poet and activist Jacqui Dichabe] turned the issue of black gay lives lost into a vicious and scathing attack on whites,” he told Mambaonline.
Incomplete footage seen by Mambaonline shows Dichabe angrily berating white marchers for not respecting the protest. You f**king racists,” she shouts, “You want to party while black lesbians are being murdered!”
Cape Town Pride Festival Director Matthew Van As said that the brokered deal between the activists and the organisers had “worked quite well”, but criticised the language used by Dichabe.
“We do not accept racism in any form,” said Van As, who claimed that the “tirade” ended up not being about “our slain sisters in the township” but “verged very heavily on the side of hate speech” and “verbal abuse”.
Dichabe’s supporters on social media, however, praised her for expressing her pain and anger in the face of a mounting death toll. Mambaonline reached out to Dichabe on Facebook. She denied she had made hate speech comments and said that video footage of the incident confirms this.
She also said that she was “consulting the collective” and would respond in more detail to our questions “when we are ready”.
After the protest, the march continued unhindered to Reddam Field at Green Point Urban Park, where celebrations went on into the evening.
The crowd, which numbered in its thousands, was a diverse and inclusive representation of the LGBTQ community, said Van As.
While the event was generally well received, questions were asked on social media why this year’s theme appeared to be strikingly similar to Pride in London’s 2017 theme, which was also “Love Happens Here”.
Van As, however, told Mambaonline that the organisers had contacted Pride in London who “gave the thumbs” up for Cape Town Pride to use the theme, which he described as “very apt”.
• See our 2018 Cape Town Pride Parade pics here.
• See our 2018 Cape Town Pride Mardi Gras pics here.