Wrapped in rainbow flags, dozens of South Africans celebrated Pride on Saturday in Soweto, and the end of an especially harsh coronavirus third wave for the community.
The pandemic amplified challenges faced by LGBTI people in the country, by forcing them to stay at home with families or communities that didn’t always accept their identity.
“Now we’ve got more (discrimination) cases, more mental health issues, because now they need to deal with this family that does not necessarily accept them,” said one of the event’s organisers, Siphokazi Nombande, 42.
“People are still being killed. People don’t understand that LGBTI people exist… and therefore they want to change them because of who they love.”
Given the additional stress of the pandemic, Nombande said, it was a boost for the LGTBI community to have the City of Johannesburg help sponsor the 17th annual Soweto Pride.
“We still even witness issues of homophobia within our families, you can’t even come out to your family. How do you come out to the world out there when you can’t even come out to your family?” said Tshepiso Leeu, 32, a registered nurse.
“So we still have a long way to go before we get to where we can say it is safe to be LGBTI or queer and out, most importantly, in our communities.”