Johannesburg Pride 2013 (Pic: Joffree Hyman)
Johannesburg Pride has responded to the opinion piece Grappling with Gauteng’s Pride Problem. Below is the Pride Board’s full and unedited response.
It remains Johannesburg Pride (read a Pride for all) on the 25 October. And the Pride Board remains excited.
We trust that ALL will support this all-inclusive Pride in their droves, ignoring the cynical, boycott called by the opinionated authors, Gabriel Hoosain Khan and Dylan van Vuuren, mired within their unfortunate myopic bias, clearly illustrated in the closing paragraphs of their opinion piece – Grappling with Gauteng’s Pride Problem.
Therein, the authors espoused their wish to inform the “young gay generation”….and “gay people” on their subjective opinions, to make an informed decision as to whether to attend Johannesburg Pride or not, among others.
Fortunately the current Pride Board and Johannesburg Pride itself have transcended that discriminatory phrasing of exclusivity and usage of discriminatory language. One would have thought that at least the one author who emanates from a respected LGBTI organisation, would be mindful of his language, while desisting from labelling all as gay. Or is to only gay men and young gay men, they wish to discourage from attending Pride? Perhaps therefore, they need a refresher course.
While many lesbians do not identify as gay perhaps the authors would find it interesting to note that bisexual persons are not gay either. They are both straight and either gay or lesbian while some prefer the term polysexaul traversing the entire spectrum of gender and sexuality. Straight transgender women remain horrified the world over when labelled as gay by the uninformed, while straight transgender men would share the disdain. Gay transgender males primarily indentify as their gender first viz male and their sexuality, gay, as secondary equally the same with lesbian transgender women.
The there are transvestites, drag queens/kings and the entire spectrum of transgenderism. While intersex persons in a few countries across the globe are now recognised as a specific gender (and while this debate remains) it seems the authors which to lump them within the gay label too, when in fact Intersex persons are as diverse across the spectrum of gender and sexuality.
Asexual persons assert that themselves as, well, a-sexual, while the straight significant others, family, friends, and allies (SOFFAs) sympathetic to the challenges faced by LGBTIAQ persons, lend support. Thus one can only deduce from these opinionated authors’ position that their version of Pride is either only for “gay persons” or at the very least, “gay and lesbian” persons.
And they allude to alleged exclusion of Johannesburg Pride attended by LGBTIAQ and SOFFAs across the colour spectrum in 2013 while they think in myopic silos?
We reiterate. Johannesburg Pride is proud to be inclusive of all. Johannesburg Pride respects the right to individuality as opposed to the utopia-view of a “community” – a term many within the LGBTIA circles have since rejected. Not that the aim is divisive. On the contrary. It celebrates several strides made, while keeping challenges it mind, with the assertion that actually we have crossed the first Rubicon of division and are transcending Simon Nkoli’s definition of a community, recognising that all are individuals of the homosapien species, as one with Mzansi (South Africa) and not as a separate “community”. Who knows, perhaps Simon is actually ululating in his grave?
Now, let’s focus on the authors’ assertion that Johannesburg Pride has “fragmented” into five different Prides. Certainly cause for contention and points to the authors’ lack of the understanding of expanding geographical challenges of the Province and growth. It still remains a fact that Gauteng is a province. From the rationale of their argument one can only but deduce that the authors are of the misinformed opinion that it’s a city.
Do the authors, while clearly citing examples of transport challenges, actually really expect those challenged LGBTIAQ persons to travel from Tswaing, Cullinan or Brits, now part of the City of Tshwane while the geographical name of Pretoria still remains, to Johannesburg just to appease them, when a Pretoria Pride has seen a wonderful birth since two years ago thus more accessible to the city’s inhabitants? Is the same expected of those living in the East Rand, while the City of Ekurhuleni now has their own Pride?
While the City of Cape Town, the City of eThtekwini (Durban), the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality (Port Elizabeth), Buffalo City (East London) and others have birthed their respective Prides, does it not remain the right of Pretoria (Tshwane) and Ekurhuleni to also have their Prides for their specific city? Pretoria has long since called for a city focused Pride, way before the One In Nine organisation was formed, let alone their destructive campaign? One would deem these two Prides certainly as the proud offspring of the former Johannesburg Pride that’s germinated into their own independence.
As for Soweto Pride and other off-springs within the province. Does our Constitution (which the authors seem to hold in high regard but perhaps not clearly understand) not allow us the right to the freedom of association and expression? Do they wish to infringe on this right, in an act of hypocrisy, and demand that all these respective Prides merge to form their version of their Pride while the population of Gauteng alone has mushroomed since 1990? Is that not hypocritical?
Now let’s examine the authors’ discriminatory attack on the suburb of Sandton. Or let us rephrase that: The express intent to mislead the uniformed reader about this suburb which they claim as “inaccessible”. Yet it has mushroomed into a pivotal public transport node of Gauteng accessible to all. Apart from the Gautrain, regrettably steeply priced for some, (at least one issue Pride and these opinionistas agree on) it hosts a bustling minibus taxi rank, primarily used by the historically disadvantaged. Johannesburg Metropolitan buses, Putco-type and other public buses equally traverse the node equally used by the historically disadvantaged.
It remains a pivotal node for the residents of Alexandra just as a clear example. A sprawling township of thousands of historically disadvantaged residents filled with the history of our country. Indeed, one of South Africa’s political party for the poor, the Economic Freedom Fighters, specifically chose Sandton (Innesfree Park) for its post election celebratory party due to the suburb being a pivotal transport node to the lesser privileged of Gauteng and easily accessible to the people of the adjacent Alexandra township. In fact, some can even just walk across, albeit with the challenge of a major arterial road, which soon will be breached by the construction of a walkway bridge.
While the Pride Committee will desist from entering the fray of the dynamics of organising, still Africa’s biggest Pride attended by as many as 6000 – 10 000 people, perhaps attention could be draw to some aspects. Those include finding a suitable venue where security is one of the paramount concerns for an expectation of thousands; a severely constrained budget where the current Board have to fund several administrative aspects of Pride from their own pockets. Thus we trust that the authors (and their sympathisers) take cognisance and perhaps render assistance in lieu of subjective, opinionated at times, ill-informed, at worst hypocritical criticisms.
Watching performers on stage at Johannesburg Pride 2013 (Pic: Joffree Hyman)
The current Pride Board has always had an open door policy and has never turned away any person, LGBTIAQ or SOFFARs who wish to proffer input. But someone has to keep the ball rolling. We’ll continue digging deep into our pockets when sponsors disappoint, we’ll continue fervently in the face of opinionated, destructive criticism and calls to boycott and a host of challenges as we present Pride 2014 come October 25th. Remember. It’s a Pride for all… ALL are welcome, not just the “younger gay generation” and “gay persons” that the opinion authors wish to school.
As for opinions. Across the world they are welcomed (well, at least in countries that have Freedom of Speech). It must be borne in mind though that everyone has the right to their respective opinions, but unfortunately not to their own facts.
Example – it remains the authors’ opinion that private food and drinks are not allowed inside the Pride venues as an “elitist discriminatory” tactic while the fact is (which they insist on ignoring) that it remains a prerequisite regulated by the Metropolitan Municipality of Johannesburg with regard to certain public events, for those events to arrange in-venue drinks and catering – a requirement Pride has to abide by, including the obtaining of a liquor licence. A clear illustration of opinion (subjective) versus fact (objective).
Finally, if the authors wish to see their dream come true of “all of us getting along” best they and all are seen within days as we celebrate the fact that WE ARE ALL HUMAN. It really is that simple. Oh, and remember, entrance is free!! (And we do hope someone will bring a cake)
With much love, kindness and greetings
P.S. All historically disadvantaged persons
Please note, any offensive, insulting and personal comments will be removed.