By Nolwazi Mjwara and Pheladi Sethusa
Empty lecture rooms where talks were planned, no information tent and an exhibition with no pull are some of the things that contributed to the dark cloud that hung over this year’s Wits Pride celebrations.
Wits Vuvuzela headed out earlier in the week hoping to bump into people dressed in rainbow colours, ready to see all the events but all those hopes were dashed by a lack of noticeable fanfare for Wits Pride. [pullquote align=”right”]“I had no idea that it’s Pride this week. I think they haven’t advertised it enough”[/pullquote]
Witsie after Witsie had no idea that it was Wits Pride this week, largely due to the lack of visible advertising around campus.
“I had no idea that it’s Pride this week. I think they haven’t advertised it enough,” said Jabulani Moyo, 3rd year BSc Eng.
A daily exhibition held at the Substation art gallery was poorly attended. Few came to see the beautiful self-portraits by artist by Germaine de Larch.
Ella Kotze, programme officer of the Transformation Office, defended the promotion of Wits Pride on campus.
“In terms of marketing, we have put close to 1 000 posters up across all of Wits’ campuses. We have been very active on Facebook and Twitter, and we have also had a very good relationship with Voice of Wits, who has gone out of their way to promote our events and the whole concept of Wits Pride,”she said.
Kotze agreed that attendance at some events was disappointing, particularly Tuesday’s panel discussion and films.
However, Kotze said that an information stand and tours to Hillbrow and Constitutional Hill were very successful.
“Contributing factors are possibly varied and may include timing, as well as type of activity – perhaps Witsies don’t like movies as much as we thought,” Kotze said.
We need pride
“Pride is very, very, very necessary on campus,” said Wits Pride organising committee member Jeremiah Sepotokele, 3rd Law.
He believes the overriding culture on campus was still “very hetero-normative”, especially in a lot of the men’s residences like Knockando.
“As men’s res there’s a culture that’s very hetero, violent and masculine. That’s problematic,” said Sepotokele.
Many students start at Wits start out as homophobic but their perspective changes.
Sam Allan, 2nd year BSc, said that she was ignorant of gay rights before she had gay friends.
“I couldn’t stand gay people before,” she said.
It was only after spending time with gay people that did she begin to accept them for who they were.
Allan said she would have liked to have gone to Wits Pride events, had she known about them.