It started political, enough…?
Before the actual taste of freedom, it happened. When the smell of the heavenly roast of equality was wafting through the air, it happened. And in 1990 I remember hearing about it at the ripe age of seven, “Die moffies hardloop deur die straat!” – so naturally, with the initial emotion of shame, I pranced outside to play where hateful words could not be heard. But one day I knew I would be one of those “moffies” prancing through the streets whether onlookers spat on me or not. And as soon as the clock turned 18 I was strong enough to stand up for myself, and I braved my first pride. Propositioned by men, sweet talked by the ladies and accosted by the bible bashers… I could not have asked for a more fulfilling experience from a cherry popping first time. What were we marching for? The right to adopt children. And now we can, to spite how difficult it may still be (I am told), but I felt I marched for something.
Is it different?
Now, We marched for equality…? What? Slap my forehead and call me Mary, that is as redundant as saying I would like meat for dinner, not rump, fillet or sirloin, just meat. For a group of people hell bent on equality they surely have not thought past their own noses in terms of creating a real message, creating real unity between the marchers and creating something that we can be proud of (can you smell the filthy smell of irony, no pride in pride). I understand the concept of equality but does it really need to be mentioned? Marching for equality – and here comes another food analogy – is like asking for my steak to be seasoned in a restaurant, it’s pretty much expected to be seasoned.
With such an open theme it was expected that this year would turn into a march of individuals, not of a group. Each and every person was going to have their own idea of equality and come fully prepared with their own agenda, and this idea of “what about me?” was more prevalent than ever before. What ever happened to “What about us?” but before I start accusing everyone else of nepotism for their own idealistic notions of freedom, I have to ask myself, am I guilty of doing the very same? Admittedly, yes I am. After almost eleven years of Pride, my admiration and support for the LGBTI community has dwindled down, dissipated into a fine mist of nothingness, as I feel more and more the perversion of being gay taking hold of the very definition of being gay. Correct me if I am wrong but I was under the impression that I was gay because I fall in love with men, not merely that I lust after them? But float after float I was reminded of what it really means to be gay… A boy in underpants. And it saddened me, if it weren’t for the Christian float handing out much needed water or the ladies in the front of the march dancing to their own tangible rhythm I may have completely lost my respect for a community I have been so naively supporting over the years. So I am guilty, of attending this year with the idea that most homos are just perverts, the idea buried somewhere deep in my brain, therefore I am guilty of creating a notion of “them” and “me” in a community that use to take that very notion and, with one copacetic movement, turn it into “us”.
What did I do?
With the wave of violent protests sweeping over our fair land I could not help myself from asking the more pertinent question: How is this march different from any other? And my answer would have been that this march is about love, respect, tolerance and a general good vibe. To prove to onlookers that to spite what judgement may be cast on us as LGBTI folk that we always brave a smile and include others in our quest for joy. So I slipped on an outfit that commanded attention, spun a mirror ball high in the air to gain a few grins and twirled my way past onlookers all in hopes of garnishing a smile, a laugh whether it be at me or with me, so long as I see you are happy.
But half way through the march I stumbled upon a group of protesters with a very ambiguous message: “No cause for celebration” and as a somewhat veteran at the game of pride I immediately jumped towards homophobia. But I was wrong. It was not homophobia but an awareness campaign that came off rather hate filled than enlightening. Their delivery enticed a raw reaction and by the time I had learnt how wrong I was I felt like too much of an idiot to even stick around. I could feel a split between those women and myself, a very unnecessary split. And for the first time I could see that the ‘other’ had moved away, from pride goers versus spectators towards organizers versus protesters, and dare I say… We have turned on ourselves. Why was one group so mislead in thinking that no one would care about the plight of the slain that they would resort to terror like tactics to be heard and similarly how can organizers of something as “meaningful” as pride not have taken it upon themselves to bring awareness to the degree of homophobia in our country, if they are not aware then maybe they should not be organizing something of this calibre?
Should I give a flying fuck?
Yes! Most definitely and for two very simple reasons, one – splitting the community will only make fighting for the same cause more difficult and two – we seem to have forgotten that homophobia and hate crimes are still rampant in most communities in South Africa. Where did we miss each other, when did we stop caring about atrocities such as hate crimes and what happened to the unspoken love we use to share?
By the end?
The march is over, the drinks are flowing, there is a vibe and we can all start to have a bit of fun. Why are we having fun though, does that not depoliticize the cause? In my minds eye the festivities creates a feeling of inclusivity for anyone wanting to be part of our community but that is scared because sexually they are not inclined to join but on a moral standpoint they believe in equality. So I am all for the fun – and on a personal level – the fun in celebration of the fact the we are each still alive, managing to come out of some hostile situations with our lives, long enough to celebrate the fact that we are the only country in Africa that hosts, not one, but five gay prides through the year. Celebration of the fact that we can celebrate in a park, in the sun ( some countries without a constitution like ours are forced to host pride indoors) and with local musicians that support us.
So by the time Tamara Dey is commanding my spirit to wiggle and shake, I know I am safe. Flash Republic entertains the crowd after a build up of so many superb live artists, and around me in the middle of the crowd I see faces of both sexes, of all colours and a variety of ages thrusted together in a jovial jump for the sky as we all scream along with Miss Dey, “I don’t even know your name”, and a profound beauty sprung to mind, how we don’t need to know each others name to have a love that is formulated in respect for one another (to spite the fact that I don’t think the song is actually about that). We are bound by one idea, the FREEDOM to LOVE who we please.
And since when can a little bit more love ever be a bad thing?