YOLANDE SITHOLE AND SUSANNA ANBU
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual plus (LGBTQ+) community took part in a pride march on 17 October 2019. The march started at 14:00 from the Agricultural Sciences building to the Piazza on Hatfield campus. The march was aimed at raising awareness and spreading the LGBTQ+ pride. Members of the LGBTQ+ community marched around Hatfield campus chanting “we are queer, we are here, and we have no fear!”.
Ryan Naamdhew, the transformation officer of the LGBTQ+ society on campus, is one of the people who organised the pride parade. He defined pride as “accepting yourself and existing without shame outside the expectations of society”. He brought up the concern about how people who are not part of the LGBTQ+ community are not accepting, but they pretend to be accepting out of fear and the judgements posed from people who not part of the LGTQIA+. For him, the march is a very important event organised by the Society as it brings members of the LGBTQ+ community together and promotes a sense of awareness to the student consciousness.
“accepting yourself and existing without shame outside the expectations of society”
One of the participants, Nokwanda Nkosi, mentioned that the march highlighted the daily challenges that members of the LGBTQ+ community go through, the fact that “straight people don’t have to march or come out of the closet like the members of the LGBTQ+ community” says a lot about the treatment and the challenges they face every single day. TV personality Mohali Moating also participated in the march. To Moating, it was about highlighting real sexuality issues, as there are still individuals who are struggling to “come out” because of fear of judgement from their families, peers and society.
Moating emphasised the fact that members of the LGBTQ+ community have no department in the government that solely represents them and have their best interest at heart. He referred specifically to the Department of Education and its curriculum where subjects like Life Orientation are aimed at teaching learners about the dynamics of everyday life challenges but don’t educate learners about homosexual relationships and the LGBTQ+ community at large. He appealed to the LGBTQ+ community to come together to raise awareness.
“straight people don’t have to march or come out of the closet like the members of the LGBTQ+ community”
Clara van Niekerk, the outgoing chairperson of the UP&OUT society, mentions that the executive committee pushed hard to market the event on all social media platforms in order to encourage a massive turnout for the march. The executive committee organised poster-painting sessions where members of the community were given the chance to leave their personal mark in the promotion campaign of the march to promote a sense of inclusivity.
Van Niekerk remarks that they chose the hottest day of the week to have their march but mentions that it worked in their favour as the crowd carrying a multitude of colourful umbrellas mimicked the rainbow colours characteristic of pride. The march was closed off with a speech from the transformation officer from UP&OUT, Ryan Naamdhew.
Van Niekerk comments that UP&OUT is trying to address the culture of LGBTQ+ around UP rather than in it. According to van Niekerk, homophobia is not voiced on campus but rather in public spheres where there are often no repercussions, making members of the LGBTQ+ valuable outside the campus space. This leads the community to believe that “you can be queer at UP but not in front of UP”. The march around campus occurred across all faculties and was characterised by the chant “We are queer, we are here and we have no fear”. Van Niekerk assures members of the communities that they need not fear as there is a whole community who will back them up.
Photograph by: Mandisa Jolinyhati