Cape Town - The Cape Town Pride festival has again come under fire amid allegations that the event does not represent the black homosexual community.
Cape Town Pride festivities kicked off on Friday and will run until February 28. The main event, a mardi gras and parade in Green Point, is on February 27.
Funeka Soldaat, of Free Gender, a black lesbian rights campaign organisation based in Khayelitsha, said Cape Town Pride continued to exclude the black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, asexual and queer (LGBTIAQ) community in decision making when planning the festival.
While festival organisers deny this, Free Gender has called for all activists to unite under the banner of Alternative Inclusive Pride Network, an umbrella organisation for the LGBTIAQ community, during the parade.
Last year the festival came to a brief standstill after a group of protesters staged a sit-down calling for the event to be more inclusive.
“When we attended or participated, it was through invitation by a few white gay men who are gatekeepers in Cape Town Pride,” Soldaat said. “We urgently request an AGM in order to plan the way forward.”
Festival director Matthew van As said this year’s celebration would be more diverse than before. He added that Cape Town Pride was hosting an event in Khayelitsha.
Van As, however, said the decision was not made to appease complaints but was suggested by one of the Cape Town Pride volunteers. “We have tried over the last two years to meet (with Free Gender), but it becomes a racial thing alone… And it becomes hostile. The meeting will happen when (we can) work towards the betterment of the LGBTIAQ community,” Van As said.
He said the allegation that the organisation was controlled by white men was untrue. “This year Cape Town Pride is completely diverse. We are the largest pride in Africa and we are the most diverse pride in Africa. People want to celebrate Cape Town Pride.”
Soldaat said, however, the event to be held in Khayelitsha was passed off as a “favour” to the black community.
Last year the network sent a letter to mayor Patricia de Lille calling for intervention, which they say was ignored.
De Lille’s spokesperson Zara Nicholson said their office responded in mid-December, saying the correspondence had been sent to the Tourism, Events & Economic Development Directorate: Events Department for their attention.