Saturday’s first-ever Limpopo Pride (Pic: Dikeledi Sibanda)

Hundreds turned out in Limpopo to celebrate the province’s first-ever LGBT Pride day with a parade and picnic in Polokwane.

A small group of enthusiastic participants, consisting primarily of lesbian women, marched from SABC Park in the city centre to the Polokwane Cricket Club on Saturday morning.

They held up posters and placards proclaiming their pride, demanding acceptance and calling for an end to the scourge of ‘corrective rape’.

At the cricket club grounds, participants picnicked, participated in HIV screening and counselling by organisations such as OUT and Health4Men and were entertained by performers.

“It went very well, especially considering it was the first one,” Cindy Molefe, one of the organisers from Limpopo LGBT Proudly Out, told Mambaonline.

She estimated that around 200 people took part in the day’s events, mostly at the cricket club. Some, however, expressed their frustration at the turnout for the parade itself.

“It’s a disappointing sight I must say. I expected to see a lot of people today. I understand though that a lot of people here in Polokwane are still in the closet. They fear that the media is here and they are scared to show face, but hopefully next year will be better,” Mahlatse Modila from the Limpopo Observer told Kopano Sibeko from the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW).

(Pic: Dikeledi Sibanda)

Andries Sefole who was at the march added: “I’m glad that finally Limpopo has a gay Pride. It was long overdue. What we need to do now is treat this thing like a baby and nurture it.”

A supporter at the event, Happy Phaleng, told Mambaonline: “Some people in the city were shocked because it was the first time they’d seen something like this. We were stopped by people on the street and they asked us what the march was about.”

The organisers praised the police and the municipality for their support, protection and traffic control on Saturday, noting that police stayed at the venue until the close of the event at 6 p.m.

Molefe confirmed that Limpopo LGBT Proudly Out plans to hold another Pride event in 2013. “We are looking forward to it being bigger and better next year,” added Phaleng.

Limpopo, which borders Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, is one of the poorest provinces of South Africa, especially in its rural areas. It’s economy is largely driven by agriculture, mining and tourism.

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