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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Hundreds march for LGBT rights at Durban Pride parade

Hundreds+march+in+the+9th+annual+Pride+parade+in+Durban%2C+South+Africa.+PHOTO%3A+Ryan+Mulligan+21
Hundreds march in the 9th annual Pride parade in Durban, South Africa. PHOTO: Ryan Mulligan ’21

Durban, South Africa — Hundreds of people gathered for the 9th annual Durban Pride parade on June 29 in Gugu Dlamini Park in central Durban.   

Participants marched in the streets around the four blocks surrounding Gugu Dlamini Park, ending back in the park for food and live entertainment.

Aluta Humbane, a performer at Durban Pride and an LGBTQIA activist, said celebrating the LGBT community in one place is a special occurrence.  

 

Aluta Humbane, an LGBT activist and Pride organizer, said Pride is a place for LGBT community members to come together without fear of discrimination. PHOTO: Gabby Gutierrez ’21

“This becomes a space where we can be without any criticism, discrimination or fear,” Humbane said. “For one day, we are [able] to just be.” 

Jason Fiddler, chief marshall of Durban Pride, said members of the LGBT community in Durban organized “significant pockets of resistance” even during the apartheid era. Starting in 1994, the first democratic post-apartheid government introduced constitutional amendments to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. In 2006, South Africa legalized same-sex marriage. 

“It is good to have the constitution, but you have to translate it on the ground at the grassroots,” Fiddler said. 

In addition to creating a safe space for members of the LGBT community, various organizations at Durban Pride offered free HIV testing and prevention information to event attendees.

Larissa Klazinga, a manager of the Aids Health Foundation (AHF) South Africa who was working at the Durban Pride parade, said despite South Africa’s progressive constitution, many South Africans still die of AIDS each year.

“A trans activist, Lee Davids, passed away because she was so badly treated in healthcare facilities that she ended up dying,” Klazinga said. “We wanted to make sure [this] community knew that they have access to healthcare in our facility and we will fight for them.” 

Men who have sex with men are among the most vulnerable people for contracting HIV in South Africa, which has the biggest HIV epidemic in the world, according to UNAIDS. 

In addition to institutional discrimination, members of the LGBT community face violence within their own personal communities. 

Humbane said when, as a teen, she dressed up and went out at night, she faced discrimination from boys in her neighborhood. 

“The boys would see us passing on the streets and hit us with stones,” Humbane said. “I would have to run, because we had to run for our lives.” 

Preventing violence through education is one of the goals of UNIQ Magazine, a Durban-based LGBT publication, according to its editor, Indlovukazi Mapule Ngobese. 

“If we sit at home people will never know that this should stop,” Mapule Ngobese said. “We are also parents so we know this must stop so there isn’t any killings.” 

Aeda Petse, a Pride parade marshall and Durban native, said dismissal of LGBT community members adds to the cultural stigma. Coming together at Pride seeks to make them visible.

“In African societies, we are always told that gay people don’t exist,” Petse said. “When people see a long queue of gay people, some white, some black, whatever the case might be, [it proves] we exist within all communities of South Africa.”

While Durban Pride does increase the visibility of the LGBT community within the city, there is still need for increased visibility in rural areas, according to Mantsha Khuzwayo, an author who writes about her own experiences as well as fictional accounts of what it’s like to be gay. 

LGBT activists and allies marched through Durban center city on June 29 in support of Durban Pride 2019. PHOTO: Ryan Mulligan ’21

Khuzwayo said she hopes the message of Durban Pride expands beyond the city. 

“[While] living in towns it is easy to interact with [LGBT people],” Khuzwayo said. “But we never filter to the rural areas. I hope the visibility spreads like wildfire.” 

Thandeka Ngobese, a station manager for Inanda FM, a radio station that celebrates diversity with a focus on the LGBT community, said mainstreaming gay issues adds to that visibility.

“We don’t want it to be about gay issues, or just gay people issues, but everybody can read about it,” Ngobese said. “It is about education and more informed decisions.” 

Humbane said seeing so many diverse people united at the parade ignites her confidence in the future. 

“We are getting ourselves to be on stage,” Humbane said. “In South Africa, there aren’t many trans women or LGBTQIA people headlining the spotlight. Here, it’s all about us. it reaffirms the fact that we matter.”

[Best_Wordpress_Gallery id=”38″ gal_title=”Durban Pride 2019″]

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