Pic: Andrew Biddy Horne
Pretoria, often associated with conservative Afrikaans culture, displayed its rainbow colours this Saturday with its first-ever gay and lesbian Pride event, held in Centurion.
Braving the scorching heat, hundreds of LGBT people and their friends turned out for the festive event, which saw marchers parading through the streets. They were joined by a handful of floats, including one for the group Tears, which campaigns against ‘corrective rape’.
Participants showed their support for personal liberties and freedom of self expression by having fun, dressing up in colourful outfits and enjoying being openly and proudly gay or lesbian in public.
After the parade, the crowd gathered in a fenced, open stretch of land in Centurion where they were treated to entertainment by the likes of Idols alumnus Jacques Terre’Blanche and a host of DJs.
Speaking to Mambaonline’s Andrew Biddy Horne, the hunky Terre’Blanche said that he was a big fan of the gay community. “I love the gay market and what it stands for,” he said.
Jacques Terre’Blanche (Pic: Andrew Biddy Horne)
He urged homophobes to “stop being narrow minded individuals and get with reality. Love is not a brand or product but a truest indication of feeling. No-one has the right to decided who can love and marry. They are basic human rights.”
A remarkable sight at the event was a lonely nesting bird protected by a flimsy taped off barrier in the middle of the field that was left untouched by the revellers.
“It went very well. A good time was had by all,” commented organiser Bruce Walker, who has long dreamed of seeing Pride in Pretoria. He also confirmed that it will be an annual event.
“We had a lot of positive feedback. The venue could be batter. It was far too hot and there was not enough shade, but we will find a better venue next year and we will improve.”
Unlike the People’s Pride march that was taking place in Johannesburg at the same time, the three kilometre parade was markedly less overtly political in nature, something which Walker acknowledges.
“You can’t make people be political. They were mainly there was to show their pride in being gay. That’s the first step in political awareness. Rome wasn’t built in a day,” he said.
Pretoria Pride saw no counter protests by religious groups along the route, which some had expected. Walker revealed that he had invited the Moreleta Park NG Kerk to open the Pride with a prayer “but they turned us down”.
Pic: Andrew Biddy Horne
Responding to criticism that the event was primarily held to promote the nearby Babylon nightclub, Walker said that the club had been the one to take the initiative to organise the event. He also pointed out that Pride in Johannesburg had often historically been funded and backed by gay nightclubs and bars.
“We put in about R200,000. You’ve got to have a starting point. We stepped up to do it because we had the capacity. Even next year, we can move it [to a different location in the city] if people want to and it must eventually be run by the community,” he said.
Walker said that he hoped to work together with other Pride organisers in Gauteng to avoid date clashes next year, an issue that divided the province’s LGBT community. “No matter what differences we’ve got, let us find a common ground.”
View Mambaonline’s Pretoria Pride gallery here.