The theme that caused all the trouble.
In a shock move, some activist groups have organised an alternative Pride event out of unhappiness with the current organisers of the Cape Town Pride Festival, which is set to take place from February 19 to March 1.
The split between Cape Town Pride and these activists appears to have been rooted in the choice, by the current Pride board, of the Pride 2009 theme: “Pink Ubuntu. Jou ma se Pride.”
In December last year, the theme was slated by a number of activist organisations, led by Triangle Project, as being insensitive and hurtful towards women and people of colour. (‘Jou ma se Pride’ is a play on an insult commonly associated with the Cape’s coloured community.)
At the time, the board defended the theme on that basis that it was a “quintessentially localised Cape Town” term and that the LGBTI community should take ownership of offensive terminology; such as has been done with the word “queer”.
Nevertheless, under continued pressure, the Pride board recently decided to drop the ‘Jou ma se Pride’ phrase from the theme in order to appease the organisations.
While the activists welcomed the move, and said that they hoped “that this action is the harbinger of a new era of Cape Town Pride and community partnership”, they have nevertheless decided to go ahead with an alternative “fringe” Pride event over the same period as Cape Town Pride.
“The heart of the issue [with Cape Town Pride organisers] remains for us a lack of gender and cultural awareness, unhelpful official responses to the call for change, deeply held questions of accessibility, and the need for broader vision in planning an event which celebrates the Pride of all in Cape Town,” said the activists in a statement issued today.
The decision to undertake a fringe Pride festival came out of “a stance of critical loyalty to the ideal of a Pride celebration accessible to and aware of all Capetonians…” The statement was supported by Triangle Project, Good Hope Metropolitan Community Church, IGLHRC and Engender.
Glenn de Swardt, the Chairperson of Cape Town Pride was shocked to learn of the development when contacted by Mambaonline, describing the move by the activist groups as “a sad day for queer politics in Cape Town”.
He said that the board, which consists of a group of volunteers, had done all it could to include everyone in the community.
“We actively invited individuals from these organisations to participate. Our AGM is open to everyone to volunteer and it was widely advertised 21 days in advance and only one organisation bothered to send a representative to that,” said De Swart.
He further insisted that the board had never been directly approached by the groups about their concerns and the board itself was forced to approach the activists when he learnt that an active campaign to discredit the 2009 theme was already underway.
De Swart said that the information being disseminated by the groups was “highly filtered and highly biased” and that the groups were seemingly intent on splitting the LGBT community in Cape Town. “They must have a hidden agenda,” he added.
De Swart said that due to the imminent demands of the event, which is set to kick off on Monday, the board would not be able to deal with the matter until the close of the festival.
The Pride Fringe Festival events will be free of charge and open for all to attend. Events will range from seminars on sexual health, personal development workshops, various parties and events commemorating victims of hate crime.
A panel discussion on the topic of the “Jou ma se Pride” theme will also be held on February 25 at the Art CafÃ©, UCT Lower Campus, Rondebosch at 6.30pm.