The People’s Pride Manifesto.

PRIDE:  A movement of protest & celebration
The People’s Pride Manifesto

We are a diverse group of people from suburbs and townships, queer and non-queer, workers and unemployed people, black and non-black, disabled and able-bodied activists, feminists, conscious and interested people. We come from economically advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds, with competing interests and visions, yet joining in the call to Reclaim Our Pride.

We recognise that:

  • we live in a South Africa that is one of the most unequal societies in the world;
  • we live in a country, a continent, and a world that is over-determined by violence;
  • the inequalities and availability to violence in South Africa run along racial, gendered and classed lines;
  • the systems of oppression and exclusion such as Racism, Sexism, Classism, Homophobia, and Transphobia are the root causes of this inequality and violence;
  • these systems of oppression are systematic in nature and the violence is ultimately expressed as a war on our bodies;
  • in a society such as this, unfair discrimination occurs unabated – based on and not limited to – race, gender, class, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability and citizenship;
  • these systems and their discriminatory effects are political in nature, resisting such systems therefore need political strategies;
  • any space that is not deliberate in seeking a social justice agenda will then comply with the exclusionary practices that are evident in our society;
  • taking to the streets and occupying space, as people on the margins, is in itself an act of political protest and resistance.

We are critical of:

  • spaces that re-enforce discrimination, violence and exclusion;
  • pink-washing, whereby a corporation, institution or other organisation showcases its liberal stance and/or policies on LGBTIAQ issues with the overt or subliminal intention of deflecting attention from, or downplaying its non-liberal or oppressive policies/practices on other issues;
  • single-issue politics.

Particular to Joburg Pride, we are critical of:

  • the way in which Prides across the globe have been formulated, which does not adequately address the issues faced by LGBTIAQ people across differences of race, class, gender and geographic location;
  • the way in which Joburg Pride has been formulated, which has reinforced the oppressive institutions that we are seeking freedom from –
  • in the form of the change of the route to a wealthy, predominantly white suburb;
  • in the division of the space after the march/parade into a predominantly white and wealthy section and a predominantly black and resource-poor section,
  • and in the highly commercial nature of the event dominated by corporate advertising;
  • the de-politicisation of a political march into a fun event only;
  • how the fun aspect has been racialised and marked by class;
  • the expensive nature of the fun aspects at the official pride event, resulting in safety issues for those who cannot participate on the same fiscal level, thereby exposing them to homophobia which is acted out on certain bodies as a result;
  • the relegation, then, of the majority of people into an outside area which they can afford to be in, which is inadequately resourced and literally turns them into the periphery of the “centre,” which remains predominantly white and wealthy;
  • the dominant cultural themes of Pride, such as the music and other entertainment, which only cater to a few segments of our society;
  • how all of the above has led to many people either not attending the JHB Pride parade as an act of defiance, or feeling like second-class queers when they do – Pride organisers have failed to engage this constituency in any meaningful way;
  • the unwillingness of past organisers to engage with some of these criticisms when approached by various activists over recent years;
  • the non-accountable organising structure of the event over recent years;
  • the privileging of the economic rationale over the historically political identity of Joburg Pride.

We call for a Pride that:

  • is a microcosm of the society we wish to live in, and not a mirror of the divided one that we currently live in. We wish Pride to be a space that all can access, where all can be free, and where every voice is important;
  • is a Political movement for social justice and social change
  • calls on those who are in power to defend, promote and protect our rights as represented in the Bill of Rights;
  • is open to all, without demarcating fences that become symbols of exclusion;
  • is safe;
  • is collectively owned by us, The People;
  • is a space where we can all engage on strategies to combat the oppressive forces that bind us, and where we can imagine a better world;
  • is a Political March with a clear political objective;
  • is a beautiful cultural expression of the various ways in which we are queer;
  • is organised by a broad-based network of people who are committed to freedom for all;
  • is organised by a structure with clear reporting lines and accountability checks and balances;
  • is a process that includes a range of activities preceding the March that educates and conscientises and is inclusive, creative, beautiful, and affordable for all;
  • is a March that will rotate in and around the city in different years;
  • is all-inclusive of progressive left forces, including our families and loved ones;
  • is as free as possible;
  • is not sponsored by corporations that are known in their practices to support oppressive agendas;
  • is creatively resourced;
  • calls on the City of Joburg for infrastructural support and avenues (e.g. free transport, access to public buildings and parks);
  • is not uncritical of, but respects, the history of the march;
  • is highly visible in the media;
  • has clear feminist, socialist, and anti-racist politics;
  • maintains a resilient political movement and memory.

The de-politicisation of Pride protest celebrations and increased commercialisation is evident across the globe. Our call to reclaim is a call to organise for freedom. Our call to reclaim is a movement of conscientised activism towards another way of being. For as long as we are alive, we will continue to agitate, to imagine, and to fight. On the backs of those that have gone before, we will continue to build resilience and resistance. We believe in another pride. We believe in another world. We believe in reclaiming a people’s pride.

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