Trans community turns out for Free State Pride 2018


The 6th annual Free State Pride march saw hundreds taking to the streets of Bloemfontein to mark this year’s theme of “all out and free”.

On Saturday, over 500 people took part in the procession through the CBD, organiser Gleo Booysen told Mambaonline. She said that the latest edition, facilitated by the group Free State Rainbow Seeds, was the largest in the event’s history.

“We were quite impressed with how it turned out,” she commented. “People showed up and dressed up in a way that they felt comfortable and expressive. It was very diverse. We really focused on the march this year because we wanted the visibility to be there.”

The reaction from members of the public to the march was overwhelmingly positive, said Booysen.

“People left their daily life and joined in. They wanted to know what was going on. It was very colourful, there were balloons. We were quite in awe at the response.”

According to Booysen, a standout feature of the 2018 Pride was an increase in the number of members of the transgender community as well as the amount of LGBTQ allies that took part.

She said that the events leading up to the march were more inclusive and targeted. “For example, this year we had a transgender workshop, a ‘bring a parent’ event… We really got the community involved. That’s why they also felt the need to come and show their support.”

After the march, the crowd continued to swell for celebrations that went on into the evening. There was a slate of performers on stage, including drag artists and DJs. The crowd was also treated to the crowning of Mpho Moferi as Miss Free State Pride 2018.

HIV testing was on offer for the participants, with a record number of people screened at the event. “Free State Pride is definitely growing,” said Booysen. “We beefed up security and made sure that everyone felt safer.”

Responding to criticism on social media that Free State Pride was not well publicised, Booysen agreed but said that a lack of funding remained a problem in addressing this.

“Unfortunately public and government officials aren’t so open to fund [Pride events]. As much as we have these constitutional rights, it’s not so easy to go to government to ask for funding. People still believe that this is just ‘a party for LGBTI people’.”

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