The topic of racism in South Africa is not a new one. From 1948 until 1994, South Africa went through an awful period of racial segregation called apartheid. Although most people in South Africa were black or of other ethnic minorities, their rights were taken away from them and Afrikaner minority rule (Afrikaners are a white ethnic group) was enforced.
It’s unsurprising then, that there are ongoing complaints by South Africa’s LGBT community that the annual Cape Town Pride celebration is not just exclusionary but is inherently racist too.
While it’s unclear as to how Cape Town Pride has been racist, activists have raised issue with the fact that Cape Town Pride is mostly focused on white, gay men and fails to address the issues of queer women in townships, such as the fact that that they are often threatened with rape or have verbal abuse thrown at them.
A group of like minded activists who agree that Cape Town Pride needs to change have set up Alternative Inclusive Pride which takes place at the same time as Cape Town Pride. What’s key is that despite the timing of the AIP, the organisers aren’t calling for a boycott and instead hold seminars, parties and continue to ask for Cape Town Pride to involve the wider LGBT community in its planning.
Funeka Soldaat, a member of Alternative Inclusive Pride as well as being the chairperson of Free Gender, a lobbying group explains that “Protesting at the event was the last resort for us, we’ve been engaging with the organisers for a while, but they chose not to listen”.
However, despite the insistence that Cape Town Pride needs to change, Cape Town Pride director, Matthew van As has retaliated saying that actually, Alternative Inclusive Pride’s protest is racist.
“I don’t agree with the method they used. I find it slightly racist because Pride doesn’t see colour or gender, anyone is welcome to get involved and you can choose not to join in.
They were given until the 20 December to add any new events to our calendar, but we didn’t get anything. About two weeks before Pride, we were contacted to say there was unhappiness about the calendar. It was too late for us to change things a week before a festival.”
Matthew van As
van As also notes that his organisation has held Khumbulani Pride in Gugulethu where they have talked about homophobia in the townships.
It’s unlikely that the situation will be resolved soon but we’ll keep you posted once we know more.