Cape Town Pride to change controversial 2016 theme


cape_town_pride_2016_theme_to_be_changed_Cape Town Pride has once again become embroiled in controversy after some members of the community questioned its chosen theme for next year.

The theme for the 2016 edition in February was recently announced as being “Gay, Proud and Colourblind.”

It was, however, attacked by critics who argued that “gay” was exclusionary of other members of the LGBTI+ community.

The term “colourblind” was also slammed as being offensive, not reflecting the reality of South Africa’s racial inequality and pandering to “white-privileged” gay men.

Pride organisers claimed on their Facebook page that the theme’s critics had “threatened to derail Pride 2016.”

Mambaonline received an e-mail from the Cape Town-based OUT magazine warning that, “Pride as we know it is in the process of being hijacked by a group of radical homophobes.”

It said that this group had “already met to discuss the disruption of 2016 Cape Town Pride and are asking that the City ban the permits for Pride.”

“They are opposed to celebration of Gay achievements through Pride and instead want a political event. Let us show Cape Town that we are proud to be ‘gay’ regardless of colour or gender and we need not be ashamed to have a party and celebrate what we have achieved,” wrote the magazine’s Tommy Patterson.

Reacting to the furore on Pride’s Facebook page, Joanne Fairbrother commented, that, “If Pride is genuinely invested in ‘Uniting the Cultures of Cape Town?’ then I think it’s a good idea to start listening to some other voices.”

Scott Fuller added: “I think the issue here is ‘colourblind’. We live in South Africa. Race matters. It will always matter, forever and always. To say you’re colourblind is to be wilfully ignorant to the many discriminations and inequalities that POC (people of colour) in the queer+ community still face. And yes, homophobia affects all, but if you’re a rich white gay living in Clifton, I can promise you that you’re sheltered from a hell of a lot more than POC in the gay community.”

In response to the debate, Cape Town Pride posted a Facebook poll asking the community for its support or disapproval of the theme.

This in itself was attacked as being unrepresentative, lacking context and not being capable of reflecting the wider LGBTI+ community’s views. Nevertheless, at the time of writing this story, 70 people had voted against the theme, 40 were in favour and 11 said they didn’t care.

On Thursday morning, Cape Town Pride Director Matthew Van As confirmed that the theme would be abandoned and admitted that its choice could have been better handled.

“Due to the tremendous response and interest from the community about the theme of Cape Town Pride 2016 we have heard and acknowledge that there was a short-sightedness from our side and as such we are changing the theme for 2016,” he wrote.

He urged members of the community to submit their ideas for a new theme by e-mailing Van As explained that organisers will put up a short-list of themes, within the next week, for everyone to vote on.

Cape Town Pride has repeatedly come under fire for not consulting sufficiently with the LGBTI+ community, for hosting expensive and exclusionary “white” events, and not being representative of the larger community.

The event has faced boycotts from some LGBTI+ groups and last year activists hosted a series of “alternative inclusive” Pride events.

Cape Town Pride organisers, who are volunteers, argue that that any member of the community is welcome to join their ranks and to submit and organise events that would fall under the Pride banner.

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