Pride toyi-toyis through Hillbrow

2014-11-29 15:28

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“If you think gays are revolting, we are,” shouted a banner. “Sex work is work!” yelled another.

“All freedoms for all people now!” chanted organisers as singing, toyi-toying activists and supporters took to the streets of Hillbrow for the second annual Johannesburg People’s Pride late this morning.

The march, which offers a banner for all social justice causes – from the rape of lesbians to victims of Marikana and the rights of migrant labourers – again amplified the voice of the poor and of women, several hundred protesters calling for an end to violence against women in South Africa.

“Can you hold a Constitution against your vagina and they stop raping you?” yelled an organiser in an opening address at Constitution Hill, saying that rights don’t exist if people don’t demand them and make their presence felt.

The march is currently Joburg’s biggest Pride event after the enormous annual Joburg Gay Pride parade folded when feminists activists 1 in 9 Campaign were physically assaulted by organisers when staging a

sit-in in 2012.

The opening performance of People’s Pride by a group of theatre activists highlighted the perceived inefficiency of government’s 16 Days of Activism campaign, bemoaning the “349 days of silence” it suggests for the rest of the year.

The march, said organisers, was going to move past the Hillbrow Police Station, “where we will demand our security” and Hillbrow Hospital “where we will demand equitable health care”.

Heading off to a chant of “This is what democracy looks like,” the rowdy participants danced and protested along much of what was the original Johannesburg Pride route begun by activists in 1990.

It arrived back at Constitution Hill via Braamfontein with amused participants singing, “My father was a kitchen girl. My mother was a garden boy. That’s why I’m a stabane [homosexual].”

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