Two groups have accused Joburg Pride of sidelining the transgender and intersex community through its 2011 theme, “Born this Gay”, which is inspired by Lady Gaga’s hit song Born This Way.
Robert Hamblin from Gender DynamiX told Mambaonline that the organisation “strongly opposes” the theme.
He said that by only including the word ‘gay’ the theme “seems to aggressively demean the spirit of Lady Gaga’s efforts which definitely includes all people in the LGBTI spectrum”.
Tebogo Nkoana from Transgender and Intersex Africa also slammed the theme, complaining of the dominance of “South African gay men” and saying that the “transgender and intersex community has become a minority within a minority community”.
“It feels like we are not recognised in the bigger LGBTI community to such an extent that even Pride excludes trans identity,” said Nkoana.
While the two groups were not prepared to say if they would boycott Pride over the issue, Nkoana insisted that the Pride theme must be “re-considered”.
LGBTI does not spell ‘gay’…
Mambaonline contacted Joburg Pride, which has a majority of women on its board but no trans representatives, about the issue.
In a statement sent to Mambaonline, Joburg Pride denied that the theme was exclusionary and insisted that the word ‘gay’ was used “as an all-inclusive word, meaning not just gay men – but all gay, bisexual, lesbian, transsexual, transgendered, queer and curious people”.
It said that it is difficult to include all these categories when creating a “catchy theme or logo” in order “to promote the event, get media attention and highlight the message behind our theme for 2011”.
Pride also quoted an earlier press release that explained that the theme aimed “to creatively, without fail and without shame, encourage society to speak out and take action against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender hate crime”.
Hamblin compared the issue to the struggle lesbian women had in the eighties and nineties to be recognised at the time by the organisers of Joburg Pride who, he said, “simply treated women as some sub-sector of same-sex love.”
“Off course in that time there was not even a consideration of trans and intersex people. And now in a new millennium? Have we not learned anything? LGBTI does not spell ‘gay,’” he said.
Joburg Pride, however, warned “of further dividing ourselves into smaller segregated communities (homosexual, lesbian, transgender, transsexual, intersex etc)”.
“We are all fighting the same fight as well as being able to celebrate together our freedoms and rights. ‘Born this Gay’ means we are one large community. We are happy, we are gay and we are here to stay,” it said.
Hamblin claimed that a Gender DynamiX board member had written to Joburg Pride about the issue but “received deafening silence as a response”. [Update: Joburg Pride has since insisted that it received no correspondence from Gender DynamiX.]
Do you think that the Joburg Pride theme is exclusionary towards transgender and intersex people?