PEOPLE'S PRIDE TO ‘TAKE OWNERSHIP’ OF STREETS
Mon, 19 August 2013
People’s Pride, Johannesburg's politically driven LGBTIAQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Asexual and Queer) Pride event, has announced a programme of events that will lead up to its October 5th march.
At a public meeting at Constitution Hill on Saturday, the volunteer organising committee revealed more details, to around 150 people, on how it plans to return the city's Pride season to its more socialist and activist roots.
The People's Pride manifesto argues that in recent years Joburg Pride had become de-politicised, focused on festivities and had "catered, often explicitly, to affluent, mostly white individuals".
The organisers say they aim to produce an event that is based on "anti-racism, anti-capitalism, anti-sexism, anti-ableism and the positioning of LGBTIAQ struggles within broader socio-political and economic contexts and struggles in South Africa and globally".
In the coming weeks, People’s Pride will host a number of events, including a discussion on "race, class and queerness," a workshop on organising protests, a film festival, an art exhibition, walking tours and a multimedia advocacy and production skills workshop.
The organising committee said that members of the community could add other events to the programme "as long as it is in line with our manifesto".
The programme will conclude with a march on Saturday the 5th of October from 10am to 1pm, starting at Constitution Hill, through Hillbrow and Braamfontein and back to Constitution Hill.
The march will stop at a number of key points along the route, including Simon Nkoli Corner, the Hillbrow Police Station, Esselen Street Clinic, Cosatu House and the Joburg Civic Centre.
"I have a dream of 10,000 of us on these streets," said the organising committee's Kwezilomso Mbandazayo.
The contentious issue of the safety of the route was brought up in the meeting. A 2005 Pride march through a built up residential area of the CBD saw a brick thrown from a high rise apartment building seriously injuring a Pride participant.
Mbandazayo said that the issue had been discussed a great deal by the organising committee, but ultimately they decided that "we live in an unsafe society" and that LGBTIAQ people could not be scared from marching in the places where they live.
She asked, "Queer people live in Hillbrow, so where should we be marching?" but added that "we will take all available measures to ensure safety as best we can".
Another organising committee member argued: "We need to show people that we are here - we live here. To reclaim our spaces... We are occupying this space."
The organising committee's Carrie Shelver revealed that the City of Johannesburg had agreed to offer all its venues for use for People’s Pride events.
There were still discussions with the city on it assisting with transport and logistics as well as possibly using some of its public art budget to put in place "public artworks that talk to the lives of queer people".
The launch day saw t-shirts being printed with the People’s Pride logo, participants making video clips on the subject of "I march because..." (see below) and the crowd being entertained by poets and DJs.
Another Pride event, describing itself as the 24 annual Johannesburg Pride, will take place at Mary Fitzgerald Square in Newtown on 28 September. The event promises to include both a human rights agenda and a party into the early hours of the morning.