After 30 years of advocacy, Johannesburg Pride has grown to become the most established and well-attended Pride event in South Africa. Johan Venter
One of the biggest drives for the Joburg Pride events this year is raising funds for a shelter for the homeless LGBTQI+ community.

“We’re finding that the number of homeless youth is growing. As much as we’re growing LGBTQI+ on a corporate level, inclusion is being driven by a global perspective. In South Africa, we still have to fight. The youth are facing a lot of challenges and the homeless are a big focus point for us,” said Kaye Ally, project manager for Joburg Pride.

Ally said for now they were leveraging off state-owned shelters currently in existence.

“It’s difficult because they’re very specific male- or female-oriented shelters, and in some instances refuse admission for a member of the LGBTQI+ community, especially from a transgender perspective. Homophobia has always been rife in Africa but transphobia is a much bigger issue that’s not being addressed.”

There are still a number of African countries that cannot celebrate Pride, with same-sex marriage constitutionally banned in nine out of 54 countries,and the community protected in only seven.

In South Africa, advances towards the protection of rights for the LGBTQI+ community were constitutionalised in 1996, making it the first country in the world to have legal protection for the community, and later the fifth in the world to legalise same-sex marriages.

This year Pride celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York, and Johannesburg Pride is celebrating 30 years.

“Globally, Pride is in its 49th year as it started the year after Stonewall so that also heightens the exposure.

“We’ve been working tirelessly as a team of volunteers in establishing the Johannesburg Pride of Africa identity to grow in a credible light.”

Ally said the vision for Pride was “Proudly African Authentically You”.

“Our themes are based on the colours of the rainbow flag and this year our theme is ‘Celebrating Yourself’. We’ll be highlighting avenues like androgenous fashion and lifestyle content that addresses the relevance of Pride, gender identity and sexual orientation and transgender challenges.

“We’re also looking at trying to establish a system in health care that makes it easier to assist the community with sexual awareness and education.”

For this October edition, the platform will introduce a number of activities including a lifestyle conference, a queer fashion show and an awards show as part of the Pride of Africa festivities before the main Parade day on October 26, Ally said.

“Joburg Pride has no barriers to entry. We welcome all, provided everyone conducts themselves in an appropriate manner.” 

 @mane_mpi