October 13, 1990
ON THIS day, South Africa’s first Lesbian and Gay Pride march was held in Johannesburg.
It was the first Pride March in Africa and acted as both a gay pride event and an anti-apartheid march.
The march was organised by the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand and attracted a crowd of about 800 people. Speakers at the event included Beverly Ditsie, Simon Nkoli and justice Edwin Cameron.
The purpose of the event was not only to demonstrate pride in gay or lesbian identity but also to provide a wider platform for voicing political concerns.
The march was part of a broader struggle to decriminalise homosexuality in South African law and to end apartheid. “I am black and I am gay. I cannot separate the two parts of me into primary or secondary struggles. They will be all one struggle,” Simon Nkoli said in his address to the crowd.
Marchers feared for their safety, with many wearing masks during the event. There was a strong presence of religious groups with many onlookers describing the march as “disgusting”. Despite this, there was a generally celebratory atmosphere to the parade signified by the chant “out of the closet and into the streets”. –