Pic: Neil Coulson
There was general consensus that while the 2017 Pink Loerie Mardi Gras and Arts Festival was smaller compared to previous years, it was still a success.
In its 17th incarnation, the annual Pink Loerie event paints the town of Knysna in the Western Cape pink.
Shops, guest houses and the general public were decked out in pink feather boas, hats and caps in celebration of the event.
This year, the central theme was that of charity, and three local charitable organisations were the biggest beneficiaries of the various fundraising activities held throughout the Freedom Day weekend.
The Pink Loerie started off with a workshop, during which media partner GaySA Radio introduced the audience to the only online LGBTQ+ radio station on the African continent.
This was followed by the Visibility Project event, hosted by Funeka Soldaat of Free Gender and writer Bruce J. Little. The newly created project focuses on awareness and upliftment of marginalised members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Soldaat spoke about her experiences as a black lesbian woman from Khayelitsha and the discrimination, stigma and challenges faced by her community.
Pic: Neil Coulson
She explained that by being activists and visibly standing up against these attacks and murders, black lesbians in poorer and rural communities often open themselves up to further danger and abuse. And that’s why, she said, other members of the LGBTQ+ community who are less vulnerable and more privileged must take a stand.
Although the audience was small, it was a useful exercise for the people in attendance to understand the issues facing the community and measure their own experiences against that of the larger LGBTQ+ landscape.
Designer Peter Bondesio delighted the crowd with his evening and wedding dresses at a fashion show at the 5 star Villa Castollini guest house. Hosted by singer Tobi Jooste, the event was attended by the Knysna Executive Mayor Eleanor Bouw-Spies who expressed her support for the festival. Villa Castollini hosted another fundraiser, namely a Medieval Feast, during which an auction was held to raise funds for the various charities.
There was an abundance of drag shows during the weekend, with Betty Bangles and her troupe of drag artistes delighting the crowd with their unique brand of humour. There certainly is room for other performance genres and it is hoped that more performers will make their way to Knysna next year to join in the fun.
Bruce J. Little launched his book Homonologues at Knysna Fine Arts, where a selection of art specific to the event was on display, as well as the regular art on sale in this amazing gallery.
Stars of the weekend were members of the gay rugby club Jozi Cats, who were in loud attendance at every event and eagerly participated in the Mr Gay Mardi Gras event, which was won by Bloemfontein boy Juan Pinnick.
The Miss Gay Mardi Gras crown was hotly contested, but Angel Lalamore snatched the crown away from the other contestants.
Pic: Neil Coulson
The annual parade down the main street was much smaller than before, but that did not stop the people lining the streets from enjoying it, nor did it dampen the spirits of the participants. Proudly led by GaySA Radio, the parade featured a marching band and two giant flags.
Several local restaurants and guest-houses participated by sponsoring accommodation and meals, while the flights were sponsored by FlyMango.com (and they were #Mangolicious.)
Kudos to the small organising team led by John-Louis O’Neil who managed to put the event together. O’Neil has reported that there are many people who have already volunteered to help make next year’s event bigger and better. It certainly deserves to grow and expand.
Click here for the Pink Loerie Parade gallery.