This year’s Wits pride march was anything but just plain pink. A growth in support was reflected in the variety of students and staff members who tread the Wits campus in solidarity for freedom of sexuality.
The march was a colourful start to the week’s events which aimed to conscientise people to the acceptance and not just mere tolerance of each other’s sexual preferences.
People chanted to the remixed version of world renowned songstress, Beyoncé Knowles’ hit single “Who runs the world? Girls,” which was vehemently sung as “Who runs the world? Gays”.
Angela Sibanyoni , a 2nd year public management and governance student at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) came to march in full support and commented, “ It’s awesome. People who aren’t gay are also marching in pride. This shows that such initiatives help create awareness. I came to march at Wits because I believe homosexual people are the same everywhere and we should support across campuses.”
An implied contradiction was raised when a song, stating: “I don’t know what you’ve been told, but being straight is soooo old,” was sung while marching on west campus.
This song had a few bystanders questioning whether the marchers were not contradicting their main theme of “acceptance” across all sexual preferences.
When asked whether such a song eroded the essence of the pride march theme, Cameron Jacobs- a member of the Wits pride week organising team said, “To a certain extent, if that’s how some gay people want to express themselves then there’s nothing we can do about it.
Maybe the song was sung in frustration from all the discrimination against lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, trans, intersexual and asexual (LGBTIA) or perhaps solidarity for the cause behind the march. I don’t think it was sung with an aim to exclude heterosexual people.”
An exhibition memorial for people killed due to homosexual hate crimes was held in front of the Great Hall on east campus. The memorial plastered coffins and a noose stand to commemorate the lives lost due the increased violence last year against people in the LGBTIA community.
Zamani Mtshali, a 2nd year Computer Science was taken in by the morbid exhibition and said, “I think it highlights the struggle that gay people go through, such as the discrimination and stigma continually associated with being gay.”