Dear Cape Town Pride,
You’re too white.
I feel like the above statement should cover what I have to say but I also understand that you may not know what I am talking about. When I say you are too white, Cape Town Pride, I really mean to say that I do not see myself able to participate in your events as a person who is fully aware of the lived realities of most LGBTIAQ people living, working and studying in South Africa.
I have a series of questions that I would like you to answer or at the very least think about because it’s 2015 and we cannot possibly still be talking about the same consumer-corporate-capital fuelled Pride experience.
We’re returning to the rainbow? Whose rainbow is this that we’re returning to? The nine events listed on your flyer do not appeal to me – except maybe the movie night, but that depends on the movie.
Did you learn nothing from Joburg Pride 2012 and 2013? Really, this is probably what annoys me most. Your older sibling went about hitting its head on these issues. People met after 2012 to consult and find a way forward that was balanced and brought back aspects of the political nature of Pride. They did the work so that you don’t have to go through the same drama whenever Cape Town Pride erupts. Because it will erupt, there are frustrated LGBTIAQ persons who will soon have enough of being rendered invisible.
Whiteness. Do you know what it is? You don’t? Really? Because you are doing it like a pro. Being ‘too white’ is not limited to race – so your argument that everyone is welcome regardless of race will not work here. What I mean by ‘too white’ is that you are working from a position of whiteness and that you are maintaining this position through the events you have put forward for Pride, by charging for events (whiteness and class are very good friends) and by the spaces you have selected as ‘Pride space’. Please show me where there is a broad variety of all lived experiences within the LGBTIAQ community in your events planned for this Pride? Some of your events are: The Pink Party; Ms Cape Town Pride; Millionaire’s Gala Charity Dinner; Divas, Dames and Drags; and Pride Parade and Mardi Gras. I don’t see anything that speaks to the experience of the African queer woman, the transman, the non-binary individual or intersex persons who are negotiating society, its obstacles, violence and ignorance daily.
Are you consulting the community when it comes to the planning of events? And if you are, who are you consulting with? And are you consulting in a way that is open to multiple experiences? Honestly, I look at your events and I see business and corporate interests first. I do not see civil society, I do not see the trans, intersex, asexual or queer community represented in the planning of your events.
Is there an organising committee? If yes, who sits on it and whose interests are being represented here? I look at the events and they feel far too commercial for an event that should be transgressive and advocating for the rights of all LGBTIAQ persons.
Accessibility? Who do these events target? The spaces they are to be held in are spaces for those with money, transport and social capital. Do you have to charge those fees for Pride? There is a degree of gatekeeping that takes place when a price tag is attached to an event – it says that only those who can afford to be in spaces are welcome. And what about accessibility of persons – have you catered to physical, sight and auditory disabilities?
I’d like you to think about the above. By not taking everyone into account means that this Pride is not an inclusive Pride, and you cannot dare claim to be returning to the rainbow if you’re only taking a few members of the LGBTIAQ community with you.
Please put forward an open call for your first planning meeting for Cape Town Pride 2016.
With hope for change,
The open letter originally appeared in the Mail and Guardian