A display of gay people kissing, touching and evoking “ohhhhs and ahhhhs” from a crowd staring into the Wartenweiler Library windows last year ultimately resulted in students clogging up Twitter asking: “What the hell is going on at Wits?”.
Such events are the backbone for this year’s “Lace it up” Wits Pride Week which kicks off on Monday, September 26. The theme of integration aims to build tolerance for homosexual people.
“The response we got on Facebook and Twitter after the showcase of ‘claiming space’ by gay people at the Wartenweiler Library was the exact reaction we wanted. For people to understand that all people, no matter their sexual preference, have the right to show affection to their partners,” says Wits Pride Week organiser, Cameron Jacobs.
Shoelaces in line with the ‘Lace it up’ campaign will be handed out on all campuses throughout Pride week by organisers from the transformation office and the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans-gender, Intersex and Asexual society, (LGBTIA)- ACTIVATE.
“Our greatest goal is to see a diverse group of people – the VC, staff and faculty members, deans and students – marching and wearing the lace to show their support for the anti-homophobia campaign.
“This is not just an issue specific to gay people because no one wants to be discriminated against,” said Jacobs.
A variety of events will take place throughout the week, with a documentary of the week’s events to be produced.
3rd year BA student, Katleho Mhargwane, said: “I think political systems don’t support gay and lesbian rights so they have to get their rights noticed and Gay Pride march does that. It also removes the violence they are subjected to.”
BCom student James Daniel had a positive perspective and said: “I’m all for gay pride. It brings awareness and therefore more acceptance and on an individual basis it’s their lifestyle, so they must live it as they want.”
Wits University last year released an official anti-homophobia statement, which the vice chancellor Loyiso Nongxa signed in solidarity.