As lesbians and gays across the USA celebrate gay pride, Joburg’s own Pride event is being put back on track. But is it too little, too late?

At a meeting of concerned parties at Constitution Hill this past weekend, agreement was widely reached on a way forward for Pride in the wake of the crisis caused by the collapse of the Equality Project.

Last year, following the disappointment and scandal of Pride 2004, the Lesbian and Gay Equality Project agreed to take over the financing and management of this year’s pride celebration and Paul Tilly was given the responsibility to oversee this. However, the organisation’s recent financial woes put paid to any progress in organising the event. Little more than two weeks ago, Equality’s board finally transferred their mandate to organise the celebrations to Paul Tilly in his personal capacity.

The confusion around the future of Pride saw a number of other parties stepping into the ring in an attempt to wrest control of the event – only leading to further uncertainty. In an attempt to bring the situation under control a community meeting was called by community organisations, the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) and OUT on Saturday.

At the meeting, it was agreed that Paul Tilly should continue his efforts to put together a Pride event in September. FEW and Out also proposed to pay Tilly a stipend to bring financing to the table within one month. Tilly explained that he was already awaiting response from a financial institution on its possible sponsorship of Pride. A representative from a bank also attended the meeting. Bruce Walker, who is managing the soon-to-be-opened Heartlands complex, offered to support this year’s Pride by offering the Heartlands as a venue for the event.

The meeting agreed that the Pride march should again move to the city this year, perhaps starting at Constitution Hill and finally ending at the Heartlands. Tilly has been tasked to report back in two weeks on progress in devising a strategy and assessing proposals from the Heartlands and other parties. At the same time, a process would begin to form a Section 21 company to ensure accountability and financial transparency.

What became clear at the meeting are the time constraints in organising Pride, with some expressing doubt that the event could be put together in just over two months. Nevertheless the meeting ended on a positive and enthusiastic note, with various attendees offering to assist Tilly in the coming weeks.

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