Pride and purpose in Gugulethu


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INLSA

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people from Gugulethu take to the streets to speak out against homophobia. Picture: CANDICE CHAPLIN

Cape Town -

South Africa’s big pride marches have lost touch with the issues faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, and for this reason more “specific” marches such as Khumbulani (“Remember”) Pride - Gugulethu’s first pride march - are necessary.

That was the message on Saturday from people who marched from NY1 in Gugulethu to the Nyanga football stadium to raise awareness of the plight of LGBTI people.

Junior Mayema, a 25-year-old Congolese man who describes himself as “gender non-conformist”, said South Africa was not the gay haven people thought it was.

“If this was the best place to be gay we wouldn’t be having a gay pride march in the township. There is too much hate crime in the township. I’ve also been beaten up in town.

“Before the town incident I was attacked by a fellow Congolese man in Salt River. When I reported it to the police, they said ‘Why are you gay? There are no gays in Congo’,” said Mayema.

Siphumeze Ndinga, 30, said lesbians were still not accepted in her area of Khayelitsha, and that the government and police needed to do more.

“I don’t think the City of Cape Town is visible enough or doing much work in our areas to deal with the attacks on lesbians. Their work is not seen here, and when we report crimes to the police, they do not move swiftly enough,” she said.

Parents, some of whose children were LGBTI people, also participated in the march.

Noluthando Somani, 40, said it was important for parents to be part of the fight for their children’s rights.

“Parents must show interest in who their children are and what they do.

“It is important for a parent to be here and understand their children and their rights, and support them in expressing who they are,” she said.

Funeka Soldaat, an organiser of the march from Free Gender, said organisers needed to remember that marches were not just about partying.

“People in pride committees have lost sight of the issues. It was important to have this march in the township to address issues specific to the township. It’s in the township where lesbians are getting killed.

“If we had this pride in town, for example, it would have just been a party. We wanted to achieve two things: to mourn and remember the crimes against our counterparts, and to celebrate and enjoy our lives,” she said. - Sunday Argus


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