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A meeting on 18 May of the recently formed organising committee of about 30 individuals decided on a broad programme of action for the annual lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual, and queer (LGBTIAQ) Pride in Johannesburg. Johannesburg Pride 2013 will consist of public art installations, performances, exhibitions, direct action, workshops, and debates over the months leading up to a march on October 5.
The organising committee emerges from two public meetings hosted by the Forum for the Empowerment of Women (FEW) and the One in Nine Campaign during April and May 2013, attended by a broad range of activists and other members of the Johannesburg queer publics.
The meetings discussed issues concerning the manner in which Pride has been organised in Johannesburg in the recent past. They identified the ways in which previous Pride events have reinforced racial, class, gender, and other social hierarchies - overlooking the problems confronting a vast majority of LGBTIAQ individuals and communities in and around Johannesburg and in South Africa as a whole and ignoring their daily struggles for adequate housing, safety, education, and access to public services such as transportation and health.
In a society still largely stratified along racial lines, this failure translated into Pride events that catered, often explicitly, to affluent, mostly white individuals. This deliberate de-politicisation of Pride and emphasis on festivities for the affluent is a slap in the face of individuals from economically marginalised communities, particluarly black lesbians and gender non-conforming people, whose lives are characterised by high levels of structural and interpersonal violence. In privileging corporate sponsorships and promoting the market value of such events, Pride ceased to be an inclusive space that was safe and accessible to all members of LGBTIAQ communities.
The meetings also generated a “Pride manifesto” that lays outs the principles and vision for a “People’s Pride,” including anti-racism, anti-capitalism, anti-sexism, anti-ableism, and the positioning of LGBTIAQ struggles within broader socio-political and economic contexts and struggles in South Africa, and globally. The People’s Pride is envisioned as an inclusive and explicitly political movement for social justice.
The organising committee, which is mandated to organise Pride in line with the vision of the manifesto, is in the process of creating a People’s Pride calendar; the events and actions will serve to:
- Build solidarity with other politically oriented Prides in the greater Johannesburg region and beyond, such as Soweto Pride and Ekurhuleni Pride;
- Educate and conscientise communities about the struggles that shape a range of experiences of being queer in South Africa;
- Honour the contributions and resilience of queer Africans;
- Celebrate the hard-won legislative freedoms we have today, recognising that none of us are free until all of us are substantively free; and
- Articulate demands for furthering social justice for all.
The organising committee meetings are open to all and hosted by Constitution Hill. In addition, mass meetings will be held regularly to ensure transparency and accountability.
For further information:
Reclaim Pride Facebook page