The Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) has accused the new organisers of one of the Johannesburg Pride events planned this year of callously setting its event’s date on the same day as Soweto Pride.
FEW has held Soweto Pride for the past seven years on the weekend before Johannesburg Pride, which in turn has, for the last few years, taken place on the first Saturday in October.
Last week, the new planning committee announced that the 24th annual Johannesburg Pride would take place on 28 September, reverting back to an earlier tradition of holding the city’s Pride event on the last Saturday of September.
FEW, however, says that the 28th is also the date it’s set for this year’s Soweto Pride.
While the Joburg Pride committee insists that FEW had not publicised the Soweto Pride date before it chose its date, FEW argues that the last Saturday in September is the date on which the event has always taken place and that the organisers of Johannesburg Pride should have known this.
On its Facebook page, FEW members and supporters vented their anger at the news that the two events are set to take place on the same day.
Mpho Kubjane wrote: “Does it not defeat the purpose of pride in general? because basically what we’re dealing with here is a black pride and a white pride…I don’t care whose fault it is or what caused the rift, the fact that the organisers as a collective can’t even come together and find common ground means to me that the spirit and purpose of pride is none-existent…”
Celia Engelbrecht commented: “Soweto Pride should NOT move their date… Also, having to ‘choose’ one pride to attend that day is about what we value more. Do we go to Soweto and protest against rape and murder or do we go to Joburg to party? The pride we attend that day will say what we as a community value more. I just have one thing to say about Joburg ‘pride’ HELL NO, I WONT GO! Soweto is a true PRIDE.”
Dikeledi Deekay Sibanda from FEW claimed on the Facebook page that the issue was discussed with the Johannesburg Pride organisers, but that “they don’t want to engage with our issues as black queer people who are affected by hate crimes and other social issues”.
Mambaonline asked FEW for official comment on the matter but has not yet received a response.
According to the Johannesburg Pride Planning Committee, having this year’s event on the last Saturday of September is in keeping with its 2013 theme, “back to our roots”.
In a statement, the committee told Mambaonline: “Johannesburg Pride has a 24 year history since inception, of which 18 prides occurred on the last Saturday of September.
“The [Soweto Pride] organisers should have respected the LGBTAQ history and avoided scheduling a newer event such as Soweto Pride on a date and day that has a deep rooted legacy and attachment with Johannesburg Pride.”
The committee also said that “our target markets differ. We aim for mainstream inclusiveness and open to all LGBTIAQ as well as PFLAG [parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays]. Soweto Pride targets a specific group within the LGTBIAQ community and they are welcome to their event on that day”.
Finally, the committee called on Sibanda to publicly provide evidence verifying her statement that there had been discussions between it and FEW, “as to date no one from FEW or One in Nine has contacted the 24th Johannesburg Pride Planning Committee”.
In addition to the 28 September Johannesburg Pride event in Newtown, another group backed by FEW and One in Nine, which believes that Pride has not been sufficiently representative, accessible and political in nature, is planning to hold the Johannesburg “People’s Pride” event the following Saturday (5 October). Details of this event have yet to be announced by that organising committee.
What do you think? Should either Soweto Pride or Johannesburg Pride move their dates to accommodate the other?