By Tshepang Pooe
This article is exclusive to the online Edition 2 (Wrap Edition) of VARSITY Newspaper.
On the 17th of March, the very first inter-residence Pride Parade was held by UCT. The parade, with the slogan “UCT residences bringing heteronormativity to its knees”, was orchestrated by an inter-residence transformation sub-council with the intention of raising LQBTQIA+ awareness around UCT campuses and residences.
Lukhanyo Mnyute, a member of the inter-residence transformation sub-committee and Kopano residence transformation representative, comments that the parade was brought about by a need to create “a space in which queer bodies can celebrate themselves more”. The inter-residence Pride Parade served to signal to queer students that their presence and identities are respected by the residences and broader university. The event followed Cape Town Pride week, which was over 23 February to 3 March 2018.
According to the chairperson of RainbowUCT, Viwe Tafeni, the residences which organised and participated in the parade were predominantly first-tier residences such as Kopano, Clarinus Village and Fuller. There were few second-tier residences which participated, one being Varietas. Those residences which did not participate, the names of which the chairperson preferred not to mention, have historically been characterised with homophobic and sexist attitudes.
The Parade began with a gathering on Jameson Plaza on the Saturday afternoon. The congregation then mobilised, moving past Smuts and Fuller residences towards Sports Centre and through middle campus to conclude at Graça Lawns. A bring-and-share picnic was held, where the residences and individuals contributed snacks. During the picnic, a speech was presented by Tafeni on the history of the Pride Parade – in which he highlighted the human rights, queer rights, and HIV/AIDS rights advocacy element of the Pride Parades. Following the speech and general announcements, the parade was concluded with music and a relaxed celebration.
Attendance was below the expected turnout, with a gathering of between 30 and 40 individuals, reports Mnyute. Femme and queer bodies were the most predominant demographic group in attendance, with masculine bodies in minority. The parade was populated with people of colour, with white individuals forming a racial minority. As per representation, this was the expected demographic given that university residences are populated widely by students of colour.
For Mnyute, the inter-residence Pride Parade is symbolic of hope. “Pride is the one place where most or all queer bodies can gather and be themselves completely without fear of victimisation or any hate crimes. That fear is a burden that queer bodies carry with them every day, so pride is the one time where we get to have a break.” Tafeni hopes that the parade becomes an annual event which will signal to the queer student that “UCT as whole is accepting and is willing to embrace each student in their fullness so that they are able to thrive in the university not only academically but also socially.”