July 06, 2011, by Melanie Nathan (USA) and Henry Bantjez (SA),
One million or more took part in the annual Pride Parade through London today, through streets lined with curious onlookers. This year, unlike in the past, the march took place around the old BBC building in Portland Place, going down from there to Oxford Circus to join its usual route.
As a newcomer to the parade the GAY FLAG OF SOUTH AFRICA (who is also linked to Luleki Sizwe in the fight against corrective rape – currently forming a task team with government to address not only homophobic attacks) made a visible and significant presence at the festival.
Shaun-Robert Weldon, a South African expat said “I spoke to a lot of people about the flag and your cause of corrective rape and uniting gay South Africans across the races, cultures and social divides…there was definately a lot of interest. I consider this city (London) to be one of the best places in the world where you are able to show who you are and not ever have to blend in.”
Cape Town, South Africa, also celebrated with a “United Against Corrective Rape” Fundraiser where a local Bubbles Bar put together a Drag Extravaganza for Luleki Sizwe that was attended by founder Ndumie Funda and Henry Bantjez and Eugene “Huge” Brockman the gay flag founder and designer. The formidable Lola Lou (owner of the bar) was donned in a Gay South African flag dress which is fast becoming high fashion amongst drag queens all over the country in support of the cause.
Gill Rimmer, 32, a transport planner from Camden, north London, who plays for lesbian football team London Lesbian Kickabouts, said the rise in homophobic attacks in the capital had increased the importance of events promoting the gay community.
“Living in London I don’t feel persecuted on a daily basis, but I don’t think my experience would be the same if I lived in other parts of the country,” she said. “London Pride is not just for Londoners so it’s important for people living outside London to be able to come here and celebrate with like-minded people.” Drag queens, lesbians, “muscled Mary’s”, Shaun’s friends and even the London Police were seen flying the Gay Flag of South Africa at the London Pride Parade under the theme Carnival of Love.
As crowds gathered in Trafalgar Square, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who had carried a placard satirizing the BNP leader Nick Griffin in the parade, took to the stage. He criticized London politicians, including Mayor Boris Johnson, for failing to attend the event.
After the heavy speech it was time to celebrate: families, gay couples, straight couples and groups of people old and young danced to live music.
There was little dancing at the first Gay Pride march in 1972 in London, when gay and lesbian pioneers marched in an act of public solidarity and defiance. What started as a battle for equal rights has been overtaken by a celebration of the right to party.
Whilst global attention is finally focused on African lesbians being raped in South Africa, in the insidious and feigned attempt to change their sexuality, the battle against homophobia continues world-wide.
Photos by: Shaun-Robert Weldon (LONDON) – Leonard Solomonz (Lola Lou in Flag Dress)
My Earlier Articles about GAY FLAG SA and connection to Corrective rape Issue:
SA Leatherman Finalist HUGE has a Surprising Cause: Helping Lesbian Victims of Corrective Rape
Melanie Nathan- March 23-2011
I met Eugene “HUGE” Brockman when I went to Cape Town to speak at Gay Pride. He was one of the friends who made sure I was well looked after. Huge forms part of a group of other South African gay men – each living their lives in a manner befitting anyone worthy of the Title Activist.
My friend Huge accomplishes his name – not for what you Gay Men may be thinking – but for what I witnessed for myself – Eugene has a HUGE HEART!
Together with his partner Henry, they have all but given up their income producing lives to a Project called the “Gay Flag of South Africa.” Huge designed the Flag – extraordinary in its simplicity as it embraces the Rainbow, we all identify as ours, together with key features of the South African Flag – the very flag meant to symbolize a post oppression and equal South Africa. The one Country in Africa where the Constitution embraces equality, but the fight to own it continues.
What touched me more than anything else – in Cape Town – was how the group of Gay White Men friends – of which Eugene, is part all embraced the issue of corrective rape of lesbians, expressing devastation by its impact on the women whom they treat as sisters; not only in advocacy and support, but literally by taking some of the women under their wing. It sort of reminded me of how lesbians in San Francisco came out to care and advocate for those with HIV/AIDS in the 80’s.
You see these men live in the City of Cape Town (as do many white lesbian women – very few of which came forward to help their black lesbian sisters) and the black lesbian and colored lesbian women live predominantly in the Townships.
These men opened their homes, provide money to the women for airtime on the internet and cell phones (extraordinarily expensive in SA) and also money for expensive taxis to get to the various events, including Parliament ion the day the corrective rape issue had its meeting.
Well today I received this note from my friend HUGE and I want to support him in his quest to win Mr. SA Leatherman (South Africa) and I hope you will join me in doing so.
As you will see that after my trip to Cape Town and discussions around how we can help Ndumie Funda to keep running Luleki Sizwe – for the immediate care and urgent needs of lesbian victims of “corrective rape” in Gugulethu, it became apparent that HUGE and HENRY would be willing to provide support for the women from an organization raising money around proceeds for this magical FLAG .
This is what he wrote to me:-
Had a good morning!
Please post on your facebook wall for people to support me in SA Leatherman…
I am invited to take the flag and promote it at the IGLTA Global Convention in Ft Lauderdale in middle-May, which would then raise funds for Luleki Sizwe!
This is a week or so before International Mr. Leather in Chicago May 27th!
If I win SA Leatherman I will be able to get a free ticket to Chicago!
This means I can promote Luleki Sizwe, the Flag and South Africa at both international events!
Please ask people to vote for me by e-mailing “SALM02″ in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org – they will then stand in line to win prizes in the States, Europe and Africa! (DATED EXPIRED)
Thanks for your support my friend!
PLEASE support Huge so we can get him to the USA . We desperately need money for Luleki Sizwe ’s victims of so called “Corrective “Rape.
South African LGBT Activists Launch Unique Rainbow Flag
February 23-2011,Melanie Nathan,
South African LGBTQI activists and supporters launched a special rainbow flag LGBT flag of South Africa (Cape Town stadium, Dec 18th 2010), in celebration and solidarity, to signify the inclusion of equality in the SA constitution and the unique issues facing their community in South Africa. “One of the reasons was that we felt a need to show that South Africa has her own unique LGBT issues (Such as corrective rape,) says a spokesperson for its launch.
“We are using the flag as a vehicle to raise funds for gay NPO’s. Currently, Ndumie Funda, Executive Director of Luleki Sizwe, is our official spokesperson,” says Henry Bantjez, an activist from (P2-INK) Cape Town – “the flag is only 2 months old, but we have already been on SABC TV (twice,) 5fm radio.
LezGetReal was sent these exclusive pictures from Cape Town; some are of the football team in Gugulethu. Ndumie raises the flag outside the Luleki Sizwe house – “she is very brave and we respect her tremendously.”
– to celebrate and maintain the liberties and the right to marry under the South African constitution.
– to address immediate and pertinent issues facing the South African GLBT community such as workplace discrimination, “corrective rape” and the myth of the “un-Africanness” of homosexuality.
South Africa is the only Country in Africa that has sexual orientation and gender identity protections in its Constitution. However it has failed to take a leadership role in Africa. I am leaving for South Africa next week, as a guest of Cape Town Pride and speaker at Pink GALA. One of the purposes of my visit is to meet with officials and organizations to discuss the responsibility of the Zuma government to call for the decriminalization of Homosexuality in Africa, with a special emphasis on Uganda and to advocate for the recall of the South African Ambassador to Uganda, Jon Qwelane an outspoken anti-gay journalist.