Durban Pride took place this past Saturday, June 30, at Gugu Dlamini Park, under the theme of “Keep the Promise to LGBTQI+ People.”
The event began with a march at noon from the park, past City Hall and back to the venue. Participants held up rainbow pride and transgender flags and placards calling for LGBTQ acceptance. After the march, revellers were treated to musical performances at the park, as the crowd continued to swell into the evening.
Organised by the Durban LGBTQI+ Community and Health Care Centre, in partnership with Aids Health Foundation, the 2018 theme aimed to remind families, political parties, leadership organisations and funding agencies to keep the promises they made towards the advancement of the LGBTQI+ community. Promises which, the parade organisers said, had repeatedly been broken.
Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Durban Pride organiser, said she was pleased with the day. “From an organisational perspective, we were happy with how everything turned out. The support and how people came out to express themselves; people were a little bit more dressed this year compared to the past, which was quite exciting.”
Mkhize said the organisers were also satisfied that the event had been incident free. “From that aspect, people understood the concept of keeping the promise, coming out and networking with people.”
The eighth annual pride event also hosted after parties at six different venues, and the organisation said all of them were packed. Despite the good turnout for the march and parties, Mkhize believes that work still needs to be done to encourage more people from KwaZulu-Natal itself to attend the event.
“We still get a lot of people from outside the province than we do from within the province, so I guess moving forward we need to look at how we can get local support from the LGBTI community.”
Mkhize said the lack of political support is also concerning. “We invite political parties to come but that only one [the DA] comes to show support for us is very worrying. In one event where they can show support and win our votes, they decide not to pitch.”
KwaZulu-Natal is known to be among South Africa’s more conservative provinces when it comes to the acceptance of LGBTQ people. Last month, Durban’s EThekwini Municipality refused (as it has done before) to fly the rainbow flag at City Hall or to pass a motion in support of the LGBTQ community. A defiant councillor raised the flag briefly at City Hall, but was forced to take it down by security.
Mkhize said that despite the success of Saturday’s event, the province’s LGBTQI+ community still has a long way to go in ensuring that they receive full support from the community and political structures.
“We want more. We haven’t seen a lot of businesses [for instance] that have come forward and said they are pro-gay and have been visible at an event like gay pride,” she said. “The theme ‘Keep the Promise’ is going to be with us for some time because it has been very clear we have people who say we are here for you, but are not necessarily here for us.”
Check our full gallery of pictures of Durban Pride 2018 here.