Passersby join in on 5th annual Free State Pride march


Pic: Free State Rainbow Seeds

The Free State’s LGBTIQ community celebrated Pride on Saturday with a defiant march and a celebration in Bloemfontein.

Around 500 people took to the city’s streets to demand equality and freedom from discrimination and stigma under this year’s theme, “I Am Pride”.

Zenny Kgolokwane from LGBTIQ group Free State Rainbow Seeds, which organises the event, said that the procession was well received by people in the CBD.

“We marched and sang and the public joined in. They watched us pass by and took videos and photos,” she told Mambaonline.

After the march, around 1,000 people gathered at the VIC (Visitor Information Centre) for festivities and the Miss Free State Pride pageant. Kem Blank, a pattern maker from Welkom, took home the coveted 2017 crown.

Participants were treated to other entertainment and were offered HIV testing, sexual health advice and condoms and lube. “People didn’t want to leave because of the entertainment,” exclaimed Kgolokwane.

The event was the culmination of a week-long Pride celebration that featured an information day, a gala dinner, a mass dialogue and a Pride Picnic.

Miss Free State Pride 2017, Kem Blank

Kgolokwane said that the Pride had grown in size this year and included participants from not just the province but also from across the country. She expressed concern, however, that there has been little support from the city and government for the event.

“We should be able to host Pride without having to pay for venues. The municipality should assist in that regard,” she explained. Kgolokwane was also disappointed that no officials turned out for the march, despite her organisation sending out invitations.

“We make it a point that we attend and support government events but they choose not to attend our events. It’s an issue that I have raised with them but I got no reply.”

Kgolokwane revealed that the date for next year’s Free State Pride has already been set; the 23rd of March, 2018.

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