#LeadWithPride - South African Pride Month 2023

13 Oct 2023
Pride DD web image
13 Oct 2023

The first Pride March in South Africa took place in October of 1990. And so we celebrate this anniversary, both recalling the legacy of those who publicly took a stand (Simon Nkoli Beverley Ditsie, Justice Edwin Cameron, Donné Rundle and Hendrik Pretorius) in those early days but also as a reminder that we still have to do significant work within our faculty and university to ensure greater recognition of, and support for members of the LGBTIA+ communities.     Advocacy for the basic rights of the LGBTQIA+ community is an act of social justice and deep human solidarity. It is rooted in the essential human right to equality and dignity. It is a dignity which embraces all our expressions in society. In this Pride Month, it is an expression of the freedom to express our diverse sexual orientation and gender identity. It is a time to give expression to the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. A time to renew our commitment to the deeply held views of UCT.     I feel deeply about the eradication of all forms of social injustice and there are many in our Faculty who share this commitment. In the 80s, a rallying call was that ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’. In this spirit, the call to allyship is echoing through our Faculty and across the higher education domain.     In the struggles of the world, allyship has played an important role in bringing about change. But what does being an ally to a cause mean? It is actively engaging with the issues that face marginalised persons despite not being identified as a member of that marginalised group.  The call to be allies for straight/cisgender people in response to the struggles of the LGBTQIA+ community includes confronting our own subconscious bias, it means providing intentional and active support. It implies acknowledging and exercising our privilege as a straight/cisgender person. This privilege relates to the very different ways that mainstream society sees and treats a cisgender or ‘straight’ person to what an LGBTQIA+ person experiences as traumatic because of their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.     In many ways, it is my privilege as a leader in this community that allows me to insert the statement written by Chanté Arab, who has been the Gender and Sexual Diversity Advocate in the Faculty, for your reading in the box below.

On 13 October 1990, the first Pride March was held in Africa, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Around 800 people marched through the city on that day while still tightly bound by the grip of the apartheid regime. Many of these participants wore masks and paper bags to cover their faces in wake of the extreme fear of being identified and targeted by authorities. To mark this historic event, October is celebrated as Pride Month in South Africa and the broader African continent. While pride events have grown and blossomed in numerous other cities and countries across the world, we have chosen to recognise and celebrate South African Pride at UCT as a chance to unpack and center our own African AND queer histories and stories.  South African Pride Month 2023 at UCT is presented to you by Faculty of Health Sciences in collaboration with The Office for Inclusivity and Change and RainbowUCT. We have planned a variety of events and initiatives intended for celebration, socialising, education, calls to action and memorial. These should be enjoyed and utilised by LGBTQIA+ staff and students as well as our allies! Our main events include an opening function taking the form of a round table discussion, a Pride movie night screening documentary “Simon and I” followed by discussion on Friday, 13 October at 18:30 and Pride Picnic with details to follow. We have also created a logo for this month that we encourage ALL staff and students to add to their respective email signatures and anywhere else you feel fit!  Throughout our celebrations during this month, my hopes for us all is to remember how far we have come as the LGBTQIA+ community of South Africa, to celebrate ourselves and each other, to commemorate our pioneers, to remember those who we have lost, to imagine our Queer African futures and most importantly, to be called to action by the struggles of our LGBTQIA+ siblings at home and across our continent. In other words, to #leadwithpride in the classroom, in your committees, management teams, living spaces, communities and social circles.    Yours in solidarity,  Chanté Arab  Gender and Sexual Diversity Advocate 

Chanté's letter to the Faculty on Pride Month is an expression of deep pride and commitment from the LGBTQIA+ community on campus. For this month, I invite you to participate in the engaging programme of activities that have been planned for the month, which I implore all members of the Faculty to be a part of:

If you want to find out more about being an ally with the LGBTQIA+ community, these resources can be quite helpful: 

You can also download the SA Pride Month 2023 email banner here.   

Kaise Gangans Associate Professor Lionel Green-Thompson Dean: Faculty of Health Sciences