Alternative Inclusive Pride protesters at Cape Town Pride 2015 (Pic: David Lee)
The organisers of Cape Town Pride have once again come under fire, with claims that the event is not representing the interests and needs of lesbian women and black LGBTI people.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Free Gender, a self-described black lesbian organisation based in Khayelitsha, confirmed it would maintain its stance, first announced in 2014, of not participating in Cape Town Pride, which kicks off today.
The organisation’s Funeka Soldaat said that Pride “continues to exclude lesbians and black LGBTI in decision making when planning for the festival.” She accused the event of “exclusionary practices” and of being run by “a few white gay men who are gatekeepers.”
In December, Pride’s theme of “Gay, Proud and Colourblind” was criticised as exclusionary of other members of the LGBTI community, not reflecting the reality of South Africa’s racial inequality and pandering to “white-privileged” gay men.
The Pride committee agreed to change the theme to “Brave Enough”, but Soldaat said this is not sufficient to “ensure that Cape Town Pride is a space where all of Cape Town’s LGBTI community is welcome and included.”
Free Gender demanded an end to “the arrogance of exclusionary white gay men” within cape Town Pride and requested an urgent AGM, “in the spirit of transparency and accountability,” in order to plan the way forward.
“This is the only way to ensure democratic processes are followed so that all of Cape Town’s LGBTI community can contribute to the planning and implementation of a Pride that is conducted in our name,” said Soldaat.
She accused Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille of “taking sides in the matter” by not responding to a letter sent to her about the issue.
Soldaat also confirmed that she and other like-minded activists would again unite under the banner of the Alternative Inclusive Pride Network this year, to host alternative Pride events and to protest against the status quo.
Cape Town Pride Director Matthew van As accused Free Gender of attempting to sabotage the event at the last minute. “I haven’t heard a word from them all year and now at the last minute they attack us.”
He argued that Cape Town Pride hosts events organised or suggested by the community and it is up to members of the community come forward with these.
He pointed out that Pride is hosting a party in Khayelitsha organised by a group of black lesbians in the township who “volunteered their time and expertise” to plan it. “Free tickets are being given out to NGOs and free transport is being provided,” he said.
Van As further commented that two workshops on safer sex and developments around HIV prevention are also being hosted in an around Khayelitsha as part of the Pride programme.
As for an urgent AGM, he dismissed the idea of holding this in the midst of organising the festival but confirmed that after Pride was over the Section 21 non-profit company running the festival would hold an AGM, open to the community, as required under the law.
Mambaonline will publish details of events hosted by Cape Town Pride and the Alternative Inclusive Pride Network if and as we receive them. For more details on Cape Town Pride 2016, click here. For details on a free Alternative Inclusive Pride film screening being held today (Friday, 19 February), click here.