Queer lives are at stake across the country and activists are saying ‘enough is enough’.
The event was a host of colourful flags, bright orange whistles and Witsies dressed in extravagant outfits for the event . The event started with a few words from the Deputy vice chancellor of finance and operations Tawana Kupe, who said he was impressed with this year’s turn out and chanted to the crowd “No fear, No hate, All love, Proud to be you” and the crowd replied with a loud “Proud to be me”
The parade was themed Being Me, which was a week of events dedicated to merge the diverse personalities, sexual orientations and gender identities at Wits. Events include a new t-shirt design competition, a drawing marathon; and a queer history tour.
Wits Pride programme manager Ella Kotze said this year’s theme aimed to make Wits a safe space for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, age, nationality, ability or class.
Kotze said Wits Pride will join hands with students and those supportive of LGBTIA issues to show their pride and also remember the struggle the LGBTIA community has faced in obtaining their rights.[pullquote]We need to reclaim the space for everyone, we know there is homophobia on campus, and it’s one of the silences on this campus[/pullquote]
Kupe said “We need to reclaim the space for everyone, we know there is homophobia on campus, and it’s one of the silences on this campus.”
SRC secretary Tasneem Essop highlighted the lack of support the SRC has given to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and asexual (LGBTIA) on campus.
“We are behind pride, as an SRC we have not done much for pride”, she acknowledged that pride has come a long way and as the SRC they want to take the fight against inequality all over campus.
The march started 1 pm at the Library Lawns and proceeded past the Great Hall, down Yale Road across West Campus and back to the Library Lawns again.
THE QUEERS of Wits Pride 2013 and members of Wits Sport went head-to-head in an entertaining game of rugby, on Wednesday night at the Wits Rugby Club.
Wham!, an amateur mixed-gender, queer social rugby club, and the Wits All Stars, a team put together by Wits Sport, played a fun and exuberant game with the Wits All Stars winning 26-24.
The game was part of the Wits Pride campaign which was held on campus this past week. The aim of the match was to tackle prejudices against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and asexual (LGBTIA) people of the Wits community.
This epic square-off began weak as the Wham! team tried to get their footing. Wits All Stars came in strong with a leading score by half-time.[pullquote align=”right”]“One of the aims of Wits Pride 2013 is to establish a safe campus community for all our students and staff. This is particularly important in light of the rising number of attacks on queer South Africans, especially lesbians and trans-women,”[/pullquote]
The second half saw the Wham! players score epic tries and some ambitious drop goals, which quickly made them fast and head-strong competitors.
The game was all in fun as it aimed to integrate people of queer identity with the rest of society. Wham! was created as an alternative space for queer, which includes LGBTIA, people to meet in a healthy social environment.
“Not only is Wham! comprised of members who identify as queer in some way, it is also comprised of players of all genders – none of whom are scared to go for the tackle,” said Transformation Office programme manager Ella Kotze.
The Wham! and Wits All Stars game took place amid the annual Wits Pride festivities, under the theme “Being Me”. Wits Pride is hosted by the Transformation Office.
“One of the aims of Wits Pride 2013 is to establish a safe campus community for all our students and staff. This is particularly important in light of the rising number of attacks on queer South Africans, especially lesbians and trans-women,” said Kotze.
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.