Organisers of Joburg Pride, Africa’s oldest gay and lesbian event, have announced their theme for the 2009 event: YOU NEED PRIDE.

On this, the 20th anniversary of Joburg Pride, and the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the theme aims to highlight the importance of Pride – both historically and in today’s world.

“It’s a call to action for the LGBT community and all freedom-loving South Africans. It’s a reminder that we can never take our freedoms for granted and never be complacent,” said Joburg Pride Co-Chair Zak Mbhele.

“Pride is our community’s most visible day of the year – and it is one that we must treasure and ensure continues to make an impact.”

The broad board urged organisations, businesses and entertainment providers in Joburg and Gauteng to plan their gay-interest and gay-friendly events for the week preceding the Pride Day and Parade to ensure a week-long series of celebrations and cultural events which can be included in the 2009 Pride Calendar.

Co-Chair Tanya Harford emphasised that while funds were raised through last year’s highly successful event to carry the organisation through the coming months, fundraising and sponsorship for the 2009 event was an ongoing priority, made especially difficult in today’s harsh economic times.

The Board called on members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual community to play an active role in Joburg Pride, by contributing where and when they can to ensure that the event remains relevant and vibrant.

The 1990 Joburg Pride March was the first lesbian and gay pride parade to take place on the African continent. It was organised by the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW) headed by the late legendary gay rights and anti-apartheid activist Simon Nkoli. Many of the participants wore brown paper bags over their head out of fear for their safety.

The event has taken place every year since then, making the 2009 Joburg Gay Pride Festival the 20th annual Pride event in the city. Today, Joburg Pride is organised by a Section 21 company run by a board of volunteers.

The 2009 Pride Day and Parade take place on Saturday 3rd October, once again at Zoo Lake Sports Club.

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