This Pride Month, meet Mzansi’s celebrated LGBTQIA+ advocates



Published Jun 12, 2024


While South Africa commemorates Youth Month in June, the rest of the world celebrates International Pride Month.

Pride Month is commemorated every June to celebrate the LGBQTIA+ community and their allies for the work they do to fight for equal rights.

When it comes to sexuality, South Africa is the only African country that does not discriminate. It was the first and remains the only country on the continent to legalise same-sex marriage.

Like racism, homophobia is an offence in South Africa. And although we do have people who discriminate against homosexuals, the LGBQTIA+ community has advocates who are fearless when it comes to their rights.

This Pride Month, we celebrate some of the most vocal LGBQTIA+ advocates.

Rich Mnisi

The award-winning designer has been vocal about gay rights. He uses fashion to raise awareness for LGBTQIA+ rights and spreads it globally.

Mnisi has designed several Pride collections, including “Love Unites”, where he partnered with adidas for a kit for London football club Arsenal. Last pride, he unveiled a collection called “Let Love Be Your Legacy”.

Speaking on the collaboration and collection, Rich Mnisi said: “In creating this collection, I had a strong impulse to speak to my inner child and express to the world how LGBTQIA+ allyship can create a legacy of love.

“Unifying these themes together through my own visual language and adidas’s iconic performance and lifestyle pieces is a powerful combination, making the collection a symbol for self-acceptance and LGBTQIA+ advocacy.

“My hope is this range inspires LGBTQIA+ allies to speak up more for the queer people they love and not let them fight for acceptance alone.”

Rich Mnisi. Picture: Instagram

Thami Dish

Thami Kotlolo, casually known as Thami Dish, has led several LGBQIA+ campaigns. The founder of the Feather Awards is one of the people who played a huge role in making sure that queer creatives are celebrated and recognised for their exceptional work.

Besides the awards, he also has other initiatives such as the annual Global LGBTIQ+ Network,  a platform to convene LGBTIQ+ people from across the world to engage in conversations leading to change that empowers and shifts thinking.

Thami Dish. Picture: Instagram

Yaya Mavundla

The award-winning fashionista is known for her influence in ensuring that transgender women are afforded equal rights and opportunities.

She has hosted several exhibitions, including “Layers of a Black Transgender Woman”, a groundbreaking exhibition featuring black transgender women in the media and at the forefront of transgender visibility in South Africa.

“My agenda is to address issues of black transgender women in SA, create space for inclusion and further say transgender women are women.

“This is also to make sure that I use my platform by making sure that transgender women are respected as women and are deserving of same spaces as all women and further be given the same opportunities as all the women,” she said at the time.

Yaya Mavundla. Picture: DeeTee

Lehlogonolo Machaba

The first transgender woman to enter Miss South Africa set the tone when she participated in the pageant in 2021 and made it to the top 30. During Pride Month last year, she partnered with Impact Drivers to raise awareness for zero discrimination against trans women.

“LGBTQ Pride Month is a month in June dedicated to celebration and commemoration of the Queer Community. Pride Month began after the Stonewall riots, a series of gay liberation protests in 1969.

“It both honours the movement for LGBTQ rights and celebrates the diversity of culture,” Machaba said at the time.

“I’m honoured to be part of the Impact Drivers team, where diversity is at. As a trans woman, this type of environment plays a huge role in my life, impacting positively on how I view the world.

“There’s zero discrimination and a 100 % celebratory attitude towards queer diversity. I believe Pride Month should be a reminder that diversity is what makes us powerful and unique as the human race.

“Let’s take this moment to celebrate those who came before us and paved the way for Authentic inclusion in society. Happy International Pride Month.”

Lehlogonolo Machaba. Picture: Instagram

Thishiwe Ziqubu

The actor and director is one of the people who believes that gay people should “come out”. He says that if straight people don’t come out, then queers shouldn’t come out as well because it’s somehow homophobic.

Thishiwe Ziqubu. Picture: Instagram