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TitleThe rupture in the Rainbow: an exploration of Joburg Pride’s fragmentation, 1990 to 2013
AuthorMcLean, Nyx Nicolene Cindy
Format193 leaves
AbstractIn 2012 Joburg Pride was disrupted by the One in Nine Campaign who asked for a moment of silence to honour the lives of victims of hate crimes1 and violence. This interruption of the parade was met with violence from Joburg Pride organisers, marshals and participants, who explicitly told the campaign’s activists that they “had no right to be at the parade.” The activists were predominantly black lesbians and gender non-conforming people. This response suggested that there was no place within Joburg Pride for honouring and mourning the lives of LGBTIAQ people of colour that had been lost to hate crimes. In addition to the call for one minute of silence, the One in Nine Campaign argued that Joburg Pride had become depoliticised as a result of its increased commercialisation. This study is motivated by a need to understand this rupture that occurred in 2012, and to situate it within the history of the LGBTIAQ movement in South Africa. In particular, it investigates the argument made by the One in Nine Campaign that Joburg Pride had become depoliticised and commercialised. The tensions that were facilitated by the 2012 clash and the subsequent formation of alternative Pride events in 2013 are interesting in light of current conversations circulating in broader South African discourse around what it means to be a South African citizen. The study applies a poststructuralist, anti-racist queer feminist lens informed by queer theory, critical theory, critical race theory, and whiteness studies to the historical and current fractures within Joburg Pride. The study analyses Exit newspaper articles from 1990 to 2013, alongside interviews with key stakeholders involved in the 2012 clash. The analysis, informed by both thematic and discursive approaches, interrogates the following themes: depoliticisation, commercialisation, “community”, assimilation, whiteness, racism, rainbowism and rainbow-washing. In this thesis I argue that the commercial interests and apolitical stance of predominantly white Joburg Pride organisers came to exclude LGBTIAQ people of colour’s experiences, at a time when political organising around hate crimes was most necessary. The analysis further highlights a politics of assimilation rooted in rights-based discourse informed by the Rainbow Nation rhetoric of post-apartheid South Africa. Further, this study problematises the notion of “community”, and discusses its strategic use in assimilationist politics within the LGBTIAQ “community”. This study shows that the rupture in the rainbow that occurred at Joburg Pride 2012 was constituted by multiple ruptures that exist in South African society. The issues explored in this thesis are therefore not only useful for constructing more inclusive spaces for LGBTIAQ people, but also for the nation building project of South Africa.
PublisherRhodes University
PublisherFaculty of Humanities, History