SOWETO Pride is aimed at expressing publically and celebrating, our identities, activism and resilience as black lesbian women. It is also a space to express our outrage at the violations that we still face in South Africa because of our sexuality together with the broader lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community.
SOWETO Pride is a political project initiated by FEW in 2004 with the aim of creating and making political and social space for black lesbian women to celebrate our sexuality and our humanity. Pride has grown in numbers over the years.
The Project, as a political act, brings together our community and our ideas and messages and articulate these both amongst activists from various movements, to surrounding communities in SOWETO, and to the broader public through the media.
It is an act of courage and resistance, an act of open public display and a key moment in the year for increasing the visibility of all the identities of this community.
SOWETO Pride is also, importantly, a social space where black lesbian women and the broader LGBTI community and women’s rights movement come together, [re]connect and have fun in a safe space.
SOWETO Pride is held every year on the Saturday closest to Heritage Day in September.
The Programme includes a lively protest march from a central point in SOWETO, moving through the residential and business areas and ends at a point such a park.
A political programme at the endpoint is followed by a cultural programme to celebrate our struggles and victories as black lesbian women, as the broader women’s movement and as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Friends, family and all those in solidarity with us in our struggles join in the celebrations. Organisations are able to display their messaging, products, promotional items and to engage with participants.
After the SOWETO Pride, the messaging, materials and products produced for and used in that event are used at other events to expand the reach of the messaging. One space where this happens is Joburg Pride, usually held one week after SOWETO Pride. The week long activities that precede Joburg Pride also provide important opportunities to engage with the LGBTI community and others to popularize the issues and the messages we raise in the course of the year.