Out in the World: First-ever Africa Pride aims to bring LGBTQ community together in solidarity

  • by Heather Cassell, BAR Contributor
  • Wednesday April 10, 2024
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Members of the LGBTQ community take part in an October 2022  Pride march in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: AP/Denis Ferrell
Members of the LGBTQ community take part in an October 2022 Pride march in Sandton, Johannesburg, South Africa. Photo: AP/Denis Ferrell

A coalition of InterPride member organizations and other LGBTQ Pride and rights groups led by the Reverend Troy Perry's call to action announced the first-ever Africa Pride that is timed with the 55th anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

InterPride is an international association of LGBTQ Pride organizations.

Perry, 83, a gay man, is the founder of the international Metropolitan Community Church. He retired as moderator of MCC in 2005. In the 1960s, he led public protests in Los Angeles preceding the Stonewall riots in New York City in 1969. He also created the first permitted Pride parade in Los Angeles in 1970 to mark the first anniversary of the riots.

On June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Tired of homophobic and transphobic harassment, LGBTQ people fought back. The initial uprising lasted for six days, and is widely considered the birth of the modern LGBTQ rights movement.

Perry issued a call to action April 9, asking LGBTQ advocates to stand up for queer people in Africa and to join Africa Pride.

Speaking to the Bay Area Reporter by phone Tuesday in his first media interview about the event, Perry condemned the American and European evangelicals espousing hate against LGBTQ people based on colonial era laws, saying it "is just wrong."

"That is not the Christianity that I believe in," he said, calling the movement "a new predominantly American religious imperialism" in his call to action.

A hybrid global event, Africa Pride will be hosted in person and virtually throughout the African continent and around the world during Pride weekend, June 29-30.

Due to the dangerous climate, many events in Africa will be hosted privately and online. In other African countries, such as Tanzania and South Africa, people will march in person along with Pride parades participating in solidarity that weekend in 12 Western and Latin American countries. Some participating Pride marches include San Francisco Pride, EuroPride in Greece, London Pride, Paris Pride, Oslo Pride, Dublin Pride, Mexico City Pride, and Bogota Pride, according to the news release from Perry's organization Rainbow Advocacy, which is spearheading the grassroots Pride event.

The B.A.R. reached out to San Francisco Pride for comment but did not receive a response by press time.

According to the release, the virtual event, hosted and sponsored by Filmocracy, will feature an art exhibit, concert, and films showcasing Africa's LGBTQ history, culture, and current issues facing the African queers. There will also be a virtual exhibit hall where participants will find resources.

Africa Pride won't only be a weekend event, according to the release. InterPride members in Africa plan to host year-round programming to show unity in Africa and organizations around the world. It will be headed by Tanzania Pride, according to the release.

Last year, InterPride, which produces WorldPride, was granted consultative status at the United Nations. WorldPride will be hosted by Capital Pride in Washington, D.C. in 2025.

Africa Pride was founded to support LGBTQ Africans, like award-winning Ugandan gay activist Steve Kabuye, 26, who was violently attacked last year, as the B.A.R. reported. He fled to Canada soon after. He said that the scar from the knife wound is a reminder of the violence his community members face back home in Uganda and throughout Africa.

"Marks that will never leave my body," read the caption of one of Kabuye's recent Instagram posts, which shows his injuries, the Advocate magazine reported. "These scars should remind everyone how the Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023 has legalized homophobia in Uganda."

LGBTQ Africans are experiencing the pinnacle of more than a decade-long assault by American and European evangelical activists interfering with various governments aiding in the implementation of anti-gay laws harming LGBTQ Africans, said Perry and John Boswell, president of Rainbow Advocacy.

"For centuries, African Pride has been under assault by predominantly European colonizers, driven by the forces of economic, political and religious domination, even resulting in genocide," Perry stated. "This is a centuries-long struggle, which devastated African traditions and cultures by ruling colonial powers and corrupted religious institutions."

Homosexuality is criminalized in more than 30 of Africa's 54 countries, according to Human Dignity Trust. Anti-LGBTQ sentiment is gaining momentum across the continent. Uganda passed its latest Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023. Over the last several months many African countries — Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania, and South Sudan — have closely watched Uganda's defiance in defending the anti-gay law against the Western world's call to repeal the law and to protect LGBTQ rights.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Namibia, and Tanzania are among other African nations considering implementing similar anti-LGBTQ laws.

Last week, Uganda's Constitutional Court upheld the country's Anti-Homosexuality Act 2023, the B.A.R. previously reported. Uganda is not the only country with or considering draconian anti-LGBTQ legislation. The B.A.R. reported Ghana's parliament passed its Human Sexual Rights and Ghanaian Family Values Bill, 2021 in February. However, Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo stated he is waiting for the country's Supreme Court decision on a challenge to the bill.

Advocates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a former Belgian colony, are attempting for the fifth time in 21 years to criminalize homosexuality, reported Erasing 76 Crimes.

In related news, U.S. embassies and other government buildings are temporarily banned from flying the rainbow flag until September due to a deal to pass a bill to keep the government open, the B.A.R. previously reported.

"It's just snowballing. We all consider this a state of emergency at a boiling point," Boswell, 67, a gay man, told the B.A.R. in a phone interview.

"We've all been concerned about the trends in Africa," Boswell continued, "but this has become just a very personal reality for me. I've come to know all these people in Steven's [Kabuye] universe and we're friends now. I can see the tremendous terror that they're living under."

Africa Pride is not associated with any U.S. embassy or InterPride at this point, Boswell said.

The event is a separate effort from Pride of Africa LGBTQ Foundation, which created Africa's Pride flag and works to foster a more inclusive and accepting Africa, according to its website.

"We want to restore African pride and see its people free," Perry told the B.A.R., noting the Universal Declaration for Human Rights recently marked its 75th anniversary on December 10, 2023.

"We must voice our opposition to religious extremism that is leading to a new African genocide," he stated in the release.

Registration for the virtual event has not opened. Check back at Africa Pride's website.

Got international LGBTQ news tips? Call or send them to Heather Cassell at WhatsApp/Signal: 415-517-7239, or [email protected]

Updated, 4/11/24: The country Namibia has been removed as an Africa Pride participant, as has a reference to the head of Namibia Pride. Organizer John Boswell stated that he initially misspoke when he mentioned Namibia would be participating.

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