By Amu Mnisi
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 1 of VARSITY News.
No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us – Marsha P. Johnson
The inaugural Cape Town Pride march took place in 1993. Led by Cape Town activists such Theresa Raizenberg, Midi Achmant and Bassie Nelson, it made a point of highlighting the intersecting struggles of race, class, gender identity, disability, nationality, sexual orientation and HIV status. It was an inclusive event. Cape Town Pride in its modern form, is anything but inclusive.
For the past three years RainbowUCT has not affiliated itself with Cape Town Pride. As chairperson of RainbowUCT it was incredibly important to me that our society continue to prioritise inclusivity over festivities. The LGBTQIA+ community is a vast and diverse community made of people with unique and individual experiences that must be highlighted and acknowledged when attempting to build a safe and inclusive space. Cape Town Pride has a long history of disregarding these experiences. It’s 2016 theme of “Gay/Proud/Colourblind” was tone-deaf at best and insulting at worst. It erased not only the intersectional history of the event itself but turned a blind eye to and undermined the identities that actively shape queer people’s experiences in South Africa.
Most recently, Cape Town Pride’s lack of accessibility has been a major concern for RainbowUCT. Events surrounding and adjacent to pride, organised and promoted by Cape Town Pride’s organisers, are often financially exclusionary to many members of the community and thus pride has become an elitist and exclusionary event. RainbowUCT is acutely aware of the difficulties of trying to build a space that is inclusive and representative of our diverse community and recognises that no one event can be everything for everyone. However, that does not mean that we should not try. For far too many members in our community, events such as Pride or RainbowUCT parties are the only places they get to feel seen. We owe them this feeling of recognition and safety. We might not always succeed but we owe it to all of them to at least try.