GAY AND PROUD (1993): At least 200 local gays, lesbians and non-homophobic supporters hit the streets of Cape Town on Saturday in the City's first-ever gay pride march to demand gay and lesbian rights in the new South Africa. The march glittered with flamboyantly dressed beauty "queens". Picture: Benny Gool/Independent Media Archives

Cape Town - On 13 October 1990, South Africa’s first Lesbian and Gay Pride march was held in Johannesburg. 

According to SA History Online, it was the first Pride March on the African continent and acted as both a gay pride event and an anti-Apartheid march. The march was organised by the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW) and attracted a crowd of about 800 people.

Cape Town had it's first ever Pride march in December 1993.

Approximately 200 people gathered and took to the streets to demand gay and lesbian rights in the newly democratic South Africa.

Pride parades represent a time when those within the LGBTQIA+ community get to be bold, proud and fierce about who they. While we have come far since the first march, progress is only made when we get to build on what has come before, which is why it is important to reflect on where we started. 

(Included below are pictures from the first and second Pride marches to take place in Cape Town, that was collected in the Independent Media archives. The captions attached are those from their initial publishing, and in other instances captions only include the date as there was no additional information available about the pictures.)

Cool couple: Proud to be gay. George (left) and Ernest show off their tanned torsos at the first ever Cape Town Pride in 1993. Picture: Benny Gool/Independent Media Archives

While society has become increasingly accepting of the queer community, there is still very much a need for such parades and to show society what it means to be queer. Some people shared their thoughts on Pride, and specifically, what it means to them -

Jonathan Cohen said: "Pride, for me, isn't reserved for the yearly march. It's represented by the shout of "I'm here. I'm Queer. Get over it!". It's a way of living, of being unapologetic about your Queer identity. Being the person you needed when you were younger and confused."

Anine Pheiffer said: "I'm reminded of my experience at Gothenburg Pride a few years back - one of the slogans roughly translated to "All love is good love" - that has always stuck with me - so universal in its truth and power."

Walter Hayward: "Pride to me as a white male means acceptance and inclusivity. I know that I am very privileged but Pride to me is a place that's just free of hate I think. I love pride because it is colourful and happy - it is a fun time and I look forward to it every year."

Social media user, Mel (@equalizer_69) said: "Pride parades is a stance against all anti-gays. A day to proudly stand by your colours whether you're out or not. To be loudly free and promote equal rights. Pride is nothing but love."

Cape Town Pride in 1993. Picture: Benny Gool/Independent Media Archives
Cape Town Pride in 1993. Picture: Benny Gool/Independent Media Archives
GAITY PREVAILS: A small group of protestors picketed outside Green Market Square on Saturday to celebrate "Queer Pride" day when lesbians, gays and bisexuals the world over campaigned for rights. The campaign is to culminate in the Mother City's first bisexual and gay rights and pride march on December 11, 1993. Picture: Benny Gool/Independent Media Archives

While strides have been made, there are still challenges that remain.

In 2017, a number of organisations came forward to criticise the organisers for the event’s alleged lack of diversity and inclusion. To right the wrongs of the past, festival director Matthew van As told Weekend Argus that “Cape Town Pride always strives to be as diverse and inclusive as possible”.

“We make sure of this through our partner groups and stakeholders that participate in Pride - 2018 was the most diverse and inclusive event in the history of Cape Town Pride,” Van As said.

Although there was a “pretty high level of acceptance” within the urban areas of the city, more needed to be done to “fight for the rights and shed light on to what is happening to brothers and sisters in the informal settlements”, he said.

“Tolerance is reasonably limited to one’s socio-economic situation, where you live and other factors. It’s easy for a Green Point gay to say that life is great - but he doesn’t live in Philippi and go out in Parow. It’s one thing to have protection under the law, but another to have that filter down to mainstream society,” Van As said.

“The Cape Town Parade and Mardi Gras is destined to be the jewel in that Cape Town calendar for 2019. The parade, the biggest we’ve ever seen, will start with 16 floats and walking groups that will include NGOs, religious groups, minstrel bands and Pride supporters. The parade will start in Prestwick Street and move towards Reddam Field at Green Point Urban Park,” he added.

Cape Town Pride in 1994. Picture: Obed Zilwa/Independent Media Archives
Cape Town Pride in 1994. Picture: Obed Zilwa/Independent Media Archives
Cape Town Pride in 1994. Picture: Obed Zilwa/Independent Media Archives
RAINBOW PEOPLE: Fun and colour at the gay and lesbian parade in 1994. Picture: Obed Zilwa/Independent Media Archives
Cape Town Pride in 1994. Picture: Obed Zilwa/Independent Media Archives


* Additional reporting by Marvin Charles.

@thelionmutters

[email protected]

Cape Argus