Thousands of queer Capetonians took to the streets of the Mother City on Saturday 2nd March to walk in the Cape Town Pride Parade, and to party later at the Pride Mardi Gras at Green Point Urban Park. This was the culmination of 10 days of various events from book and poetry readings, drag shows, a fun run, the Pride Edition of the famous Cozi Pool Party, the Mr and Miss Cape Town Pride Pageant, and a karaoke competition to name but a few, that make up the annual Cape Town Pride festival. The theme of this year’s Pride was I Am Me, and many used the occasion to express their individuality and fabulosity.
The Parade kicked off at noon in de Waterkant Gay Village. As has become customary, it was led by the Cape Town chapter of Dykes on Bikes, followed by the Caledonian Pipe Band. This year there was record number of groups and organisations participating, including religious groups, P-FLAG, Cape Town Tourism, Cape Town Carnival, SWEAT – a sex workers’ advocacy group, We the Brave, Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation, Lion Pride (Beauty without Cruelty), QueerUS Stellenbosch, Teen Pride, Cape Town Bears, three political parties (Patricia de Lille was spotted at the start of the parade) and for the first time, LGBTIQ+ groups from Camps Bay and Rondebosch High Schools.
The capacity crowd at the Mardi Gras was addressed by Liberty Matthyse, the Executive Director at Gender DynamiX, a Cape Town based trans advocacy organisation, who reminded us that despite our unique and inclusive Constitution which should be celebrated, we still have a long way to go to ensure true equality. But having said that, South Africa remains a beacon on a continent where most queer citizens face prejudice. Liberty then called for a moment of silence to commemorate those in our community who have passed on. JP Smith from the City of Cape Town then gave a short speech in which he assured queer citizens of the Mother City that city government remained committed to this community and continued to support initiatives such as the Ivan Toms Centre for Men’s Health.
Tommy Patterson, director of Outreach Africa which organises of Cape Town Pride, then introduced Ian McMahon, former chairman of Cape Town Pride and outgoing chairman of the Pride Shelter Trust, who was the first recipient of the Pride Lifetime Achievement Award for his service to the queer community. In accepting the honour, McMahon urged people to volunteer, something people were doing less and less of nowadays.
The day’s festivities were declared officially open by visiting international Drag Diva Ceri Dupree in Dame Edna mode. Seven hours of entertainment followed with popular Cape Town DJs and entertainers, such as Jimmy Nevis, Latheem Gabriel, the ever popular Tonnes of Fun who were three but who are now four, drag trio 3D, who celebrated their 9th birthday, Zoe Zanna, drag superstar Manila von Teez, Maxine Wilde and The Voice SA season 2 winner Craig Lucas. One of the highlights of the day was when a lesbian couple who had been married earlier in the day decided to throw their bridal bouquets to the ecstatic crowd at Pride.
This was undoubtedly one of the best organised Pride events ever, and certainly the biggest. An estimated 3000 people took part in the Parade, while 10 000 revellers partied at the Pride Mardi Gras in their own unique style.
Check out our photos here