Cape Town Pride took place this past weekend, and while it was a lot of fun, it raised a lot of feelings and struggles within me.
Any and every LGBTQIA march is important because it highlights a community which despite its issues is brave enough to come together and celebrate who they are. The queer community often gets told that we’re perverse or that there is something wrong with us, but Pride is when we come out to show that we’re proud of who we are.
Pride is the queer community coming together and saying that we will not be shamed for being who we are, and loving who we love.
Cape Town Pride was an interesting experience for me. It illuminated a lot of things that I still need to deal with, and some noticeable flaws within the community itself.
Before I get onto some of the issues of Pride and the community, let me first address some of my issues.
Pride made me realise that I have to get over my issues of slut shaming. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but I think for me acknowledging that I unintentionally slut shame others is a good way for me to begin addressing the issue.
There were numerous instances, where a person was making out with someone, and within the next 5 minutes, they were locking lips with someone else. It didn’t only happen once, but more times than I could count.
I would often stare incredulously, signally at those around me like, “Did you see that? That’s totally unbelievable!” but it would always be with the intention of like “Damn, they sure get around.”
At the end of the day, who they hooked up with was none of my business, and if they wanted to make out with 5 or 20 strangers, and sleep with any of those strangers, it still didn’t affect me and my life.
Yes, practising safe and responsible sex is important, but people are adult enough to make decisions over their own lives and behaviours. It’s not for me to deem what is considered safe and responsible for them, I only need to focus and informed about my sex life and whoever I sleep with.
We’re entering a stage as a society where we are recognising that people have autonomy over their bodies, and we’re slowly losing the stigma surrounding what it means to be promiscuous.
For me to cast judgement or criticism at those individuals is on me, and something I need to address myself.
I have questioned myself enough to know, that my level of conservatism comes from my time growing up within a traditional Christian value system.
I was raised to be very obedient, and that the word of the biblical text was law – believing that sex before marriage is sinful and the bible-bashing rhetoric had a massive impact on me.
Even to this day, I’m struggling to reconcile my belief in God with the fact that I’m gay because it was preached for so long that you have to choose one or the other.
This is also compounded by society constantly screaming out “this is right” or “this wrong” regardless of whether or not it has anything to do with their lives…which is something people like to do, especially in regards to sex, and also women’s bodies.
I’m trying to do better and be better, but it’s a process unlearning all these unhealthy habits.
Picture: Cape Town Pride
Cape Town Pride was also at times isolating.
It was wonderful being around many people within the queer community who I felt accepted by.
I was with my friends, just having a great time, but after my friends left, I was left to my own devices, and sometimes that can be very overwhelming.
I am a friendly-enough person, and even my job as a journalist requires me to make conversation with strangers, but in social settings and surroundings, my reasons for engaging with someone change from it being “for work” to “making casual conversation” and that creates a lot of anxious feelings within me.
If I had to choose between being in the company of 2 strangers and making conversation, versus that of my own, I’d much rather be by myself.
Social interactions feel very overwhelming for me.
However, when checking social media I noticed someone I follow was also at Pride.
I sent them a message and after some milling about, I found them, and then by pure coincidence discovered a mutual acquaintance who I had met once before. Within a span of 10 minutes, I ended up hanging out with new people.
Later, I met another person from social media that I knew, and it all ended up with me having a lot of fun.
Every queer person will agree that another interesting experience about Pride is when you see a person you’ve slept with.
The community is so small that you WILL bump into a person you slept with. You have to be a big person, and at least greet them because if you’ve had your penis/fingers/tongue in them, a hug is the least you can do.
The queer community is also very big into its kinks and fetishes. The straight community is too, but it’s a lot more visible to the queer community.
A guy I went on a date with, and who I’m still in regular contact with, is into a particular kink and engages within that sub-community. He was at Pride, and as we were hanging out, he mentioned that the group he was about to introduce me to was part of this kink community.
He was kind enough to give me a heads up, which I really appreciated. As he mentioned this, my flight instinct wanted to kick in, and I was having a mild freak out, to say the least.
Part of the reason for this was because I had this notion of what kink meant in my head, and I also cast judgements on them before meeting them, which also didn’t really help the extremely awkward level of uncomfortable feelings that sat in the air.
It doesn’t help that I’m a socially awkward individual.
Now, I’m not saying that kink is for me, because it’s not, and it’s not something that everyone is comfortable with, BUT instead of just seeing them as people, I judged so heavily and that just made a situation infinitely messier than it needed to be.
Again, while I have a minutely limited understanding of kinks, it’s not my place to be a moral judge.
While feeling uncomfortable was a completely valid feeling for me, other people’s sex lives have nothing to do with me.
Now onto the issue where Cape Town Pride was being problematic:
Many people knew about a pre-planned protest to disrupt Pride, as there was a message going around on social media:
Love lives here…PHI??
Where is the love?
Where is the love for Noxolo Xakeka, 23, assaulted, humiliated and murdered in January 2018?
Where is the love for Noluvo Swelindawo, 22, abducted, assaulted and shot to death?
Where is the love for Nonkie Smous, 28, whose body was so badly burnt her own family could not recognize her?
Where is the love for Joan Thabeng, whose mutilated body was found after having been dragged through the streets?
The list could go on if anyone cared to put actual numbers on paper.
So sorry to put a damper on your party but ours is the Pride too. Cape town pride, among other problematic prides, is an exact replica of what is happening in society at large and we intend to put an end to it.
Cape Town Pride is accustomed to being oblivious of the struggles endured by the LGBTQI+ community.
Cape Town Pride is blind to the discrimination, rape and murders.
Cape Town Pride is capitalist, entertainment machine that has traded in its responsibilities for a fistful of Pink Rands.
We are aware that many others, over the years, have tried to stop the injustice and it has not worked and we are the ones who have been awaited and something WILL change.
THIS IS IT
Since 2012 1 in 9 Campaign was kicked out of Gauteng pride in Joburg and as a result exposed the racism that exists in these spaces, Cape town and Durban pride included.
WE ARE SAYING ENOUGH IS ENOUGH as 80% of the black majority that lives in this country.
We are reclaiming our purpose. We are reclaiming our Pride.
We are saying that this cannot be the case that an entire 80% is not represented
Especially while BLACK WOMXN bodies suffer in silence.
WE WLLL NOT HAVE IT ANYMORE
YOU CANNOT BE SAYING THAT “LOVE LIVES HERE”
While there is absolutely no love for black LGBTIQP+ bodies
We intend to disrupt this celebration for we are not in the mood to party while our community is being plagued by discrimination, violence and corrective rapes.
There cannot be any celebration when all the resources are being geared towards the entertainment of privileged White males and empowered people.
WE REFUSE to allow this to continue
We have tried to contact and involve the Cape Town Mayor Patricia De Lille before but she has not responded to our cries.
We may not have a pink rand to spare but we have our value.
We are going to take the matters into our own hands.
We have been polite
We have done “polite” protests, silent protests amongst many others.
We have engaged and tried to get a black lesbian or two to sit on the board and it has not worked because it is an EXCLUSIONARY STRUCTURE.
It’s a PREJUDICED WHITE SUPREMACIST PATRIACHIAL structure that excludes Black LGBTIQP+ bodies
So perhaps love lives here means that LOVE LIVES WHERE BLACK QUEER BODIES DO NOT LIVE!!!!!
– Where Is The Love? Disrupting Cape Town Pride!
News of this protest caused a lot of complicated feelings for everyone.
These feelings stem from the fact that many feel like Cape Town Pride isn’t inclusive and caters to predominantly white gay males, and that many others who aren’t white gay males don’t feel as included.
The issue of exclusion relates to a topic I tackled previously in a post, “THE RACIAL CURRENCY IN CAPE TOWN, AND IT’S GAY SPACES“. People of colour often feel a constant level of being uncomfortable in predominantly “white” spaces because those spaces all make us feel unwelcome.
Pride is this issue on steroids, being that many within the queer community, who aren’t white and gay, feel unwelcome by those who are meant to be there as a support structure for them.
The pride organisers have tried to help remedy this, but others have seen their efforts as half-assed.
This issue is too complicated to tackle here, but its problem that has persisted for recent years, and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
The reason why a pre-planned protest didn’t go through was that an arrangement was reached by the two parties, which included a moment of silence for the deceased.
Cape Town Pride Festival
In remembrance of our fallen black lesbian sisters we will be having a 15 minute silence at the beginning of the parade to morn these atrocities. We are one community that will win as one.
Many people, myself included, were relieved that an agreement could be reached because while we wanted to honour and show our respect for our fallen sisters, we also want to celebrate what it means to be gay.
We want to be joyous and be proud of who we are because there is a laundry list of horrible things that come along with being gay, and it’s baggage that for one day we want to put aside.
It created many complicated feelings.
Cape Town Pride is fractured, and this was corroborated when witnessing who people were interacting with.
There was rarely any crossover.
People of colour would hang out with people of colour, while many white members of the queer community would be relaxing with those who too looked like them.
One can argue it is Pride and everyone doesn’t always want to interact with strangers, but if this is true, then why even come out with Pride.
Pride is supposed to be about solidarity and coming together as a community, NOT just sitting with your friends who you see the rest of the year.
Pride should be commended for the fact that more people of colour seem to be attending than in previous years, however, it is saddening that they sometimes sit outside the gates of the Pride party because they don’t get the luxury of paying the R50 entrance fee.
Of course, if the money didn’t go to a good cause then entrance would be free and open to all, but it’s a definite catch 22.
This may be a non-issue and could be something that happens in many other Pride festivals, but it is saddening regardless when you see how people who have so much in common not really communicating with each other.
That said Cape Town Pride, much like the city that it represents, has a very long way to go when it comes to addressing inclusion. When will that happen? I don’t know, but I am hopeful that I will see that inclusive day.
Theo. Over and Out.