Third Joburg People’s Pride honours LGBTI activists

Pic: Mambaonline / david Penney

Pic: Mambaonline / David Penney

The Joburg People’s Pride movement held its third annual march through Hillbrow and Braamfontein on Saturday, remembering the activists who started South Africa’s LGBTI rights movement.

The event was marred by a last minute cancellation of its post-march concert due to “unforeseen technical difficulties,” but nevertheless saw a spirited crowd of around 400 people taking part in the procession.

Participants began the afternoon by making placards at Constitution Hill before embarking on the march with the intention of “reclaiming” the streets and making a radical political statement.

They held up rainbow flags and placards with slogans such as “Sodomy is an act of love”, “Our bodies our choice”, “Free Palestine”, and “Black and gloriously queer”.

One of the organisers, Sekoetlane Phamodi, said he was impressed with the turnout, despite the postponement of the celebrations.

“It was awesome to see the commitment to the politics of Pride of the people who participated and who came to the march, and goes to prove that the people who make up this movement are very clear about what Pride is,” he told Mambaonline.

Pic: Mambaonline / David Penney

Pic: Mambaonline / David Penney

“We are not knocking celebration; as a group and collective we agree that Pride means a whole lot of things to different people. We now have a whole number of Pride events happening in Joburg. People go where they want to go and engage how they want to engage and that is their right. What is crucial for us is that the basis for the Pride we organise must always be about the politics of Pride,” Phamodi continued.

“Our pleasure must always be informed by our politics and our politics must also be infused with our pleasure. Those two things must always be in conversation with one another,” he insisted.

The participants stopped at significant locations in Hillbrow, such as Simon Nkoli Corner, to commemorate the late activist who co-founded Gays and Lesbians of the Witwatersrand (GLOW) in the 1980s.

There was some brief tension and confusion about the route when metro police blocked the marchers from making their way through Joubert Park and it instead continued through Hillbrow and back to Constitution Hill.

Phamodi argued that it was important to have the march in a public space in which LGBTI people may not always feel secure.

“This is our world, this is where we live and this is a space we want to reclaim and interact with the people of the city in open public,” he said, “rather than parade in suburban areas that are often walled and are private spaces and limit how people can move through them.

Pic: Mambaonline / David Penney

Pic: Mambaonline / David Penney

“People feel secure in the suburbs so there is not a lot of impact there; we need to focus on areas where there is a direct need.”

He revealed that the planned People’s Pride concert and celebration will now take place in mid-December, with details and the line-up to be announced.

“We have called on actors, performers, MCs, poets and dramatists within the Johannesburg People’s Pride movement and beyond to make up the set list of the performers who will be there,” said Phamodi.

“We have shown that a movement does not need to seek out commercial funding. We have looked beyond conducting ourselves like businesses. We have a model here and we are a clear example that we don’t have to do the usual same things in the same old ways by corporatising our politics.”

Johannesburg People’s Pride was launched in 2013 as a response to what the group claimed was the commercialised, depoliticised and exclusionary nature of Johannesburg Pride. It takes a more radical political and anti-capitalist stance and links LGBTI equality to all other struggles for equal rights.

For an extensive gallery of images of the day, click here.

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