This year’s Cape Town Pride celebrations were taken to the townships with a special picnic for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, queer, intersex (LGBTQI) community held at the Buyel’embo Village in Khayelitsha.
About 100 people attended the event – held ahead of the Cape Town Pride Parade, which takes place in Cape Town on Saturday February 27 – and proudly displayed their true selves in a society where they still endure discrimination and often face violence.
Part of the aim of the event was to celebrate cultural diversity and raise awareness of LGBTQI issues in the country.
Headed by the Anova Health Institute with its “WetheBrave” campaign, which is funded by renowned musician Elton John’s Aids Foundation, the focus in Khayelitsha was on encouraging men who have sex with men to be tested for Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases.
The day gave a platform to all the LGBTQI groups to speak out about their status and share their stories.
As they prepare for the Pride celebration, the groups have appealed for tolerance and understanding from those who criticise them.
Cape Town Pride co-founder, Sisanda Fatyela, said they brought the awareness-raising initiatve to Khayelitsha for two reasons: to challenge the perception that Cape Town Pride is mainly for white people and to educate the communities about homosexuality.
In the new South Africa, the groups said, they still experienced challenges and troubles in their communities.
“It is still difficult for some people to live their life in the townships. We are still facing difficulties with people judging us and calling us names. We are here to educate people.
“But, mostly, we are here to show them that this is not a white thing,” he said.
Mr Fatyela said more education is needed and also commended Anova Health Institute for educating homosexual men.
He said it is important for everyone to test for HIV/Aids and other illnesses.
Wethebrave spokesman, Cassius Mogoeng, said he was happy to have taken the campaign to the townships.
He said the campaign was established to address issues related to sexual health in an educational, non-judgemental and fun way.
The day’s events was boosted by the support from other groups, such as the Khayelitsha-based Buwa Art organisation.
Its founder, Noluthando Hermanus, said her organisation is on a journey to learn about the history of LGBTQI people.
“We conduct dialogues and workshops with traditional leaders, churches and older persons who might have something to say about gay people back in the day.
“So our involvement is to conduct workshops or dialogues that educate people at large about LGBTQI history and trying to teach people that gays and lesbians existed even in the time of our great grandfathers. Buwa uses art to educate people so we are an edutainment group,” she said.
She called on people to learn more about the LGBTQI community and blamed a lack of empowerment for some of the problems this community faces.
“Because of lack of educational empowerment, people still don’t understand the LGBTQI community, which puts us as a community at risk of so-called corrective rape and other hate crimes.
“I believe working together LGBTQI community would help us understand each other more. A lot of our people need to learn more about sexuality,” she said.
* Visit www.wethebrave.co.za for more information.