Kathmandu/Pahichan – Cape Town was awash in rainbow colours on Saturday, as more than 7,000 people came out for the city’s annual Pride parade and mardi gras.
According to Cape Town Pride Festival Director Matthew Van As, the event was one of the biggest yet; with 16 floats taking part in the parade, in addition to walking groups.
The issue of religious homophobia was the focus of a number of participants, with placards visible in the crowd calling for acceptance of all people by churches.
Others held up signs claiming that Pride remained too focused on gay white men, to the exclusion of other members of the LGBTIQ community; a long standing dispute with some activists and organisations.
This year’s theme ‘I am what I am’ was a call for self expression and self affirmation, explained Van As. “People were like, ‘this is who I am and this how I love and this how I live. This is me. No regrets’.”
At the park, revellers were treated to entertainment from the likes of Manila von Teez, Latheem Gabriel and 3 Tons of Fun, as well as a variety of DJs.
“It was the most lovely Pride we’ve ever had,” Van As said. “It was very upbeat and inclusive and united.”
Van As expressed his gratitude for the city’s assistance with marketing, venues and logistics. Corporate sponsorship for Pride remains a problem, however. Van As noted that other than a presence from Absa, mainstream companies remain wary of taking part or supporting the event.
“Sponsors are very difficult to get. We’re very lucky that we had WeTheBrave this year and some of the alcohol companies got involved but for very small amounts.”
Saturday was the climax of a ten day festival that included parties, comedy shows, film screenings, the Mr and Miss Cape Town Pride pageant, a picnic and a book night.
“There were events for everyone. We had something like 18 events over ten days, and there was community engagement in every event,” said Van As.
“If just one person got to be themselves without shame, without all the pressure of society and they expressed who they were for the first time… just one person… then I think our job was done.”