Durban Pride takes to city’s beachfront

Pic: Francois Raubenheimer

Pic: Francois Raubenheimer

More than 1,500 people marched through Durban’s streets and beachfront on Saturday to celebrate the 2015 edition of Durban Pride, held under the theme of “common ground.”

The day kicked off with a flag raising ceremony at the Amphitheatre on North Beach, at which speakers addressed the past, present and future of LGBTI equality in South Africa and on the continent.

The event included South Africa’s first openly gay black male MP, Zakhele Mbhele; Mr Gay South Africa, Craig Maggs; EThekwini Councillor Martin Meyer; a representative from the Muslim community and activists from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

This was followed by the colourful march on OR Tambo Parade and along the beachfront and an afternoon of celebration and fun with DJs, singers, bands and drag performers entertaining the crowds back at the Amphitheatre.

Jason Fiddler, Chief Marshal of Pride and Festival Director of the Durban Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, described the march as “one of the proudest moments of my life.”

He said the parade was the largest he’d seen in five years and the “one of the most inclusive and diverse marches I’ve been in, in terms of race, gender and economic status.”

According to Pride organiser Nonhlanhla Mkhize, Director of the Durban Lesbian and Gay Community and Health Centre, the march route was significant because of its high visibility.

She praised the participants who braved the cold, rainy and windy day to take part. “I didn’t think people would pitch,” she admitted.

Fiddler noted that the route along the beachfront and promenade highlighted one of the most contentious spaces in Apartheid South Africa. “People of colour could not use that beach and LGBTI people could not be visible in public and now we are free to do so.”

Pic: Francois Raubenheimer

Pic: Francois Raubenheimer

He and Mkhize acknowledged that despite our freedoms, “we stand in solidarity with our African brothers and sisters who are still not free and our South African brothers and sisters who still face daily discrimination and in many cases violence.”

Mkhize confirmed reports that organisers had struggled to secure permits from the municipality to put on the event, describing EThekwini regulations and by-laws “as seriously difficult to work with and to host a good event in Durban.”

She said organisers were already planning next year’s Durban Pride to ensure that there will be fewer snags. “I’m very excited and looking forward to 2016, especially since Durban is hosting the international AIDS conference around the same time.”

Mkhize, partly tongue-in-cheek, also promised to ensure that organisers next year officially invite Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini to attend the event. Zwelithini was accused of making anti-gay comments in 2012 and the province remains among the country’s most culturally conservative regions.

“We are in KwaZulu-Natal after all. The king should come to see some of our queens,” she quipped.

In 2014, Durban Pride was marred by controversy after efforts to have the eThekwini Municipal Council express its support for the march led to alleged homophobic heckling by an ANC council member.

Get the Mamba Newsletter

Latest Comments
  1. Ezra Steenkamp
    Reply -
    • Mamba Writer
      Reply -
  2. Sibonelo
    Reply -
  3. Misanthrope
    Reply -
  4. L
    Reply -
  5. Nokufika
    Reply -

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend