October 30th, 2010
By Conraad G. Jonas
October 2010, Pretoria, South Africa
Johannesburg Pride 2010 – Photo Credit: Pride Board of Directors
“WE’RE ALL AFRICAN” was this year’s theme for Johannesburg’s 21st annual Pride, to highlight the deteriorating human rights landscape for LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex) people across Africa. First held in 1990, Johannesburg Pride has been the largest South African Gay and Lesbian celebration.
Being part of the LGBTI community is not only a preference, but a life decision. The Joburg parade has always been one of the most anticipated events that happen. From the early hours people get ready to head to Johannesburg to show off their pride in some unique way.
All along the highways you can clearly see our community standing out from the rest with Gay flags fluttering in the wind from the passing cars’ open windows, and great classics booming from the sound systems, as our “family” hoots and sings along, all the way to Zoo Lake.
Rainbow flags waving all along the highway to Johannesburg Pride – Photo credit: Karl-Heinz Michel
At Pride we are all equal. We set our differences aside as a community (as this event not only attracts gay people but straight people as well) so that we can all stand together supporting the fight for equal rights for all LGBTI people around the world, but especially in our country.
As usual the parade starts of at Zoo Lake Sports Club through the streets of Rosebank and back to Zoo Lake. This parade is so big that the Johannesburg Metro police, the South African Police Service and Think Bike have to marshal the event through the roads of Rosebank to stop the normal traffic entrapping the parade. It’s a wonderful feeling to see loads of unfamiliar faces looking out of windows cheering you on, people hooting away on their horns and just random people encouraging us to a better and open future.
Organisers of the event said that “there were more than 18 000 people that took part in this year’s Pride parade through the streets of Johannesburg which is no surprise seeing as South Africa is the only nation on the continent with full LGBT equality.”
The festive parade is a prestigious event on its own, from the lovely “ladies” in their drag outfits, to the creative costumes made or hired especially for this walk. Among these, there are also a handful of multi-coloured and entertaining floats from numerous clubs and businesses, followed closely by open-top cars as well as the walkers with their dogs (some inspired by Paris Hilton!).
Conraad Jonas (3rd to left) and the other Firemen, alongside Terry Tiger Victor (far left) and Lola Fine (far right) – Photo credit: Ryan Stewart
After the parade everyone gathers back at Zoo Lake Sports Club for the after-Pride festivities where there is entertainment from various Radio and Club DJ’s & Drag performances from local clubs to set the mood. Besides the entertainment from the stage, there are also social and educational stalls that aim to raise and promote the visibility of the LGBTI community where you can buy all sorts of different merchandise on sale. There are also bars, food, and doggy watering buckets for man’s best friend!
One of the organisations that are always a big sponsor and great supporter for the better well being of the LGBT community is “OUT LGBTI Well-being”. This year OUT and Health4Men hosted a Pride Village and offered information to the public about their work and also provide free services such as on-the-spot HIV testing, counselling and advice to try and reach a better and safe future for us all!
After 5pm most people rush off home to run a cold shower after a hot long day to get ready for the first official after-party. For those with extravagant outfits or Joburg’s fabulous queens, this means a second major transformation for the day.
Karl-Heinz Michel (Mr Gay South Africa finalist), Shaida Maria Elvira (Ms Ramp Divas Finalist) and Conraad Jonas (Mr Gay Pretoria finalist) at Joburg Pride – Photo credit: Frans-Petrus Zeelie
This year we were honoured to have the British Pop-Star and world-renown DJ, Sonique, at the Standard Bank Arena. She was joined by various other local DJs, who got us all into the party mood with great mixes. If this was not enough, there is always the Fireman’s ball to look forward to. This year the Fireman’s ball was held at the new up-and-coming club Discotech, in Joburg, owned by the legendary Stuart Hillary. If you were not fortunate enough to get a ticket, that was no problem as all the gay clubs in Pretoria and Johannesburg had their own after-parties. It was up to you where you wanted to go!
Left: Dame Crystal handelier Right: Tilly Tittilation
In the end, what truly matters is that we all came together, for one special day, to celebrate who we are, to stand up for what we believe in, and to march for our rights as LGBTI people. Pride is about more than just a fun day in the sun, it is symbolic of our OWN “long walk to freedom”, and it clearly shows that we are making progress. South Africa was the first country in the world to include gay rights in their constitution, and is one of the very few nations (and currently the only one in Africa) to fully acknowledge same-sex marriage and civil unions.
Conraad Jonas and his hubby Karl-Heinz Michel, advocates of monogamous relationships, at the official Pride After Party – Photo credit: Conraad Jonas and GlamCam
Clearly, we need Pride, and Pride needs us! So we will return every year with our rainbow flags, flamboyant outfits, and lots of suntan lotion, and take to the streets of Joburg to celebrate our homosexuality with PRIDE!
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