Lady Gaga’s new song “Born this Way” hit South Africa just in time for its 16th Gay Pride Parade in Cape Town on March 5, which celebrated ‘Love our Diversity ‘ and became an anthem in the scorching heat, blazing loudly from several floats.
Spectators could also hear the chanting of “We’re queer and we’re here” as the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) pride flag adorned the city in red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.
Stellenbosch University’s Lesbigay opted for fairies and mythical creatures with the slogan “We exist,” blowing bubbles into the crowd. They shared the float with a few Cape Townian friends and decorated it in plastic ivy, sunflowers and pink and green balloons.
“Next year, we hope to have our own float. Thirty members supported us this year, compared to the handful last year. It was absolutely magical,” said Ellen Wang, Lesbigay’s marketer and treasurer.
Other floats included a “Save the Rhinos” float with the slogan Let me be horny, a Beefcakes float decorated by pink flamingos, a bubble bath party, Cape Town Lesbians float decorated by women in lingerie, Crew’s float adorned with men in army briefs and the public dressed in colourful and original gear on foot.
Pride started this year at the end of February with the Pride Film Premiere, the Red Party (to promote HIV awareness), a massive pool party and finally the parade which made its way up Beach Road, along the Cape Town stadium, through Sea Point’s Main Road and ended with an anti-climax afterparty at the stadium. Lack of music and ambiance influenced the majority to hit Clifton’s Third Beach and later end up at the Pink Strip’s clubs.
“Lots of people were also bothered by this year’s new route, which made us more visible than last year. They felt more at ease in the old route,” said Roberto Millan, Lesbigay’s ex-chair. Dylan van Vuuren, Rainbow UCT’s former chair agrees: “The route could have been better organised and the R30 entrance at the afterparty was far too much. There wasn’t even a proper MC.”
Amongst the sea of rainbow flags, feather boas, fishnet stockings and men in drag, people holding placards shouted into the crowd: “Jesus can save you from homosexuality!” and “Jesus can save you from the lake of fire!” They blasted sirens into the crowd, which were dumbed down by the floats hooting to a maximum as they passed by.
Ironically, in the song Gaga sings, “It doesn’t matter if you love him or Him,” a direct reference to God, which permeated the entire parade, as a few floats opted to include religion as part of their theme. A group of Muslims were dressed in Middle-Eastern gear of silk saris and kaftans on their float, with a huge banner that read : “Created in the image of Allah. Muslim. Lesbian. Do you see the resemblance?”
The Good Hope Metropolitan Community Church decorated their float with a huge cross covered in the colours of the Pride flag, with two children holding up the official South African rainbow flag above the banner: “Would Jesus discriminate?” The ‘official’ South African Gay Flag was launched at last year’s MCQP party.
The parade was interrupted half way when a drag queen “DJuze Nipples,” who was part of the Beefcakes float, fell off from the top of the truck as she moved to sing. Suffering from concussion, bruises and a cut leg, she was rushed to hospital in a brace and stretcher.
The Pride flag has been listed as the world’s largest flag by The Guinness Book of World Records. It was created in 1978 by American artist Gilbert Baker, who claimed to be influenced by Judy Garland singing ‘Over the rainbow.’
What the Pride flag colours mean :
Red : life
Orange : Healing
Yellow : sunlight
Green : nature
Turquoise : magic/ art
Blue : serenity/ harmony
Violet : spirit
Some flags have re-adopted the hot pink above the red, which represents sexuality.
EXTRA SOURCES : Eyewitness News, IOL, wikipedia.org, official Pride website