Wits Pride Week 2018 has been a tumultuous one for the queer community

Wits Pride Week began on Monday, August 20, with the theme #NotOnMyWatch and has been one for queer people to make their presence more visible on campus.

The week began with the tradition of hosting a mock wedding on the Great Hall piazza. Two BSc Engineering students, Kaylin Klein and Zamantungwa Ndawonde, were the couple ordained at the ceremony attended by nearly 200 Wits students.

Jem Rose, who officiated at the ceremony, said that it showed the strength of the LGBTQ+ community at Wits. “I saw people who were not queer at the wedding. There was a lot of support from allies, everyone was there to support and show love.”

Later on Monday, a dialogue titled Toxic Masculinity in Queer Communities included a panel of queer women of colour, to discuss the violence of patriarchy in queer relationships. First year BA student and Wits Activate vice-president, Daniel Lee, said they chose to explore the topic from a female perspective to highlight the reality of masculinity even beyond heterosexual relationships.

The various talks and seminars scheduled throughout the week aimed to engage with the different aspects of the queer community in the hope of creating a common identity.

The status of queer people in the country’s healthcare system was a huge topic throughout the week. A focus group held at the Disability Rights Unit on Tuesday, August 21, discussed the queer experience at public hospitals, specifically shedding light on the abuse and mistreatment faced by members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Continuing with the topic the following day at a TRANScending Boundaries seminar, one of the attendants remarked that people needed to realise that “queer people’s identities do not necessarily match their bodies.”

Safe Zones Programme Co-ordinator Tish Lumos told Wits Vuvuzela that, “Wits Pride has been particularly successful this year and, certainly, every year we reach wider parts of our university community with valuable and engaging initiatives.”

In what was meant to be a week of inclusion, homophobes still made their presence felt. On Monday, the LGBTQ+ decorated wall near The Matrix was defaced with anti-queer slurs such as “Queers are disgusting”, “F*&# Faggots” and “Rape Gay Bitchez”.

Lee told Wits Vuvuzela that the vandalism showed “a very real dark undercurrent of homophobia on campus. People at Wits don’t actively reject the queer community but rather our visibility. It is almost as if they prefer us when we are silent. The vandalism was an attempt to silence us,” he added.

A Pride march was scheduled for Friday, August 24, at 13:15 in front of the Great Hall and Lee believed that it would cap off a tumultuous week for the queer community.

“This Pride has reflected a number of different and varying experiences for us. There have been highs and lows. But the march will be a very real reminder that queer people are ready to organise and stand strong. This is not the end, it is rather a platform for us to grow,” Lee said.

FEATURED IMAGE: The wedding party poses in front of the pride flag for pictures         Photo: Tshego Mokgabudi


Wits Vuvuzela, Pride Week wall defaced with anti-queer slurs, August 2018

Wits Vuvuzela, ‘We are queer, and we are Witsies’, August 2018

Wits Vuvuzela, Safe Zones allies increase to 160, August 2018