Durban Pride 2013, which concluded with a day event at the North Beach Amphitheatre on Saturday, was dubbed a success, despite a lack of funding and not hosting the traditional parade or march this year.

According to Nonhlanhla Mkhize, one of the organisers from the Durban Lesbian & Gay Community & Health Centre, around 3,000 people attended the event throughout the day.

The festival consisted of speeches in support of LGBTI equality and rights as well as performances by various LGBTI artists, with food and drink available for the revellers.

“There were a lot of performers and DJS who showcased their talent. We had a varied mix of performances on stage. I was impressed with the skill and talent of the LGBTI community,” commented Mkhize.

She acknowledged that more people might have attended the event had there not been an entry fee this year, a requirement imposed on the organisers by a lack of funding.

“It was an unfortunate thing. We did not get a sponsor so we had to request a donation of R30. But there were also nice gardens outside the area we fenced off where some people chose to spend the day,” Mkhize told Mambaonline.

Another significant difference this year was that there was no parade or march through the city’s streets. Mkhize explained that this was in large part due to bureaucratic delays by the municipality.

She said that it was a “logistical nightmare” and that delays in securing a venue meant that the route near the beach could not be confirmed within the six month application period required by the authorities. It also affected the organisers’ efforts to source sponsors.

“Our major challenge was getting the municipality’s buy-in early on. Having their logo on our correspondence opens doors, and we didn’t have that,” she explained.

Mkhize said that she would not say at this point that homophobia was behind the problems but said that organisers would put forward their applications for next year to the authorities this month.

She also confirmed that the intention is to hold a Durban Pride parade again in 2014.

“Next year we intend to take it back to the streets. That’s what we’re hoping for, so we are submitting things now so that we don’t have the same problems next year.”

Mkhize added that organisers will take the opportunity to educate the community about why Pride events have parades and marches.

“We will circulate much more information about why we march and parade earlier. There is both an activist and celebratory element. We hope to encourage people to prepare costumes and message t-shirts earlier for next year. Our hope is that when we take it to the streets, people will not just wear their usual clothes – but constumes and messages that reflect who we are,” she said.

Saturday’s event was attended by LGBTI community groups (including the Coalition of African Lesbians, Pietermaritzburg Gay & Lesbian Network, FEW, One in Nine, Sisterbend and Joburg Pride), gay-friendly religious groups (including Victory Ministries International, Deo Gloria Family Church and Upper Room), as well as two political parties, the ANC and the DA.

“Pride was successful in that it happened, and brought together activists, the community and a sense of fun. But I think that there’s a lot of room to grow,” said Mkhize.

The week preceding Saturday’s celebration saw a series of LGBTI events being held across the city, including the Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, the Miss Gay Durban pageant, a boat cruise and a variety of parties.

ユ View our two Durban Pride 2013 Galleries here and here.

Pics by Jason Fiddler

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