The History of Joburg Pride
“A society that aspires to respect human rights cannot disrespect people because of sexual orientation” – Justice Edwin Cameron: Supreme Court of Appeals
The first ever African gay and lesbian Pride parade took place in Johannesburg in 1990. Fewer than a thousand people attended – some even wore paper bags over their heads so as not be identified. In subsequent years Joburg Pride has grown in size and visibility – in 2003 boasting almost 20 000 participants. While the event has become less political and more celebratory in nature, Pride remains, at its core, a call for gay and lesbian equality and a recognition of our nation’s rich diversity.
In early 2007 a new section 21 not-for-profit company was formed, composed of new organisers – all with considerable skills and experience in relevant fields and not linked to the troubled events. Their aim: to rehabilitate the institution and create a world-class pride celebration.
South Africa’s 1996 Constitution is first and only constitution in the world that expressly guarantees protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. But despite many changes to our laws, lesbian and gay people are still experiencing discrimination in the home, the community and the workplace. Only by building a fair and equal society for all can we then truly celebrate our freedom and our democracy.
What is Pride?
Pride is an international tradition, in most major cities around the world, which usually consists of a parade or march and associated entertainment, social and educational events that aim to raise the visibility of gays and lesbians. Pride also serves as a celebration of this community and in many countries has become a significant local and international tourist attraction and destination event.
- An economic impact survey calculated that Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras (over 25 years old) attracts 500,000 spectators and contributes AU$100 million to the Australian economy each year.
- A 2001 study of Berlin’s Christopher Street Day parade found that the event attracted 500,000 attendees who contributed €134 million, 38% of whom were heterosexual and 62% were gay.
- Toronto Pride Parade is Canada’s most attended single-day event, with an estimated crowd of more than a million people, and Pride Week festivities bring about C$60 million to the city’s economy.
- Montreal Pride Week, called Divers/Cité, brings in C$40 million with about 850,000 attendees, while Vancouver’s Pride brings in about C$23 million.
- The Gay Games events were founded in 1982 and now attract more athletes than the Olympics, 14,000 every four years. In 1994, it provided an estimated $300 million to New York City, 125 million Dutch guilders ($55 million) in Amsterdam in 1998, and Gay Games VI in 2002 generated roughly AU$100 million (US$60 million) for Sydney, Australia.
- In 2006 São Paulo Turismo stated that São Paulo’s Gay Pride weekend brought approximately 400 thousand tourists to the city in 2005, generating over US$84 million in revenue.
The Gay Market
The gay market is sometimes referred to as DINKs – double income, no kids – who have the freedom to travel more often and higher “disposable incomes” to buy luxury items. Gays and lesbian like to be respected and spoken to as a community in their own right. This reflects acceptance of their lifestyle and a progressive approach; absolutely vital to being taken seriously by this group of trend-setting, astute and often affluent consumers. While there is little research available on the South African gay market, international studies are a good indicator of the local scenario.
- Increasingly, American gay marketing firms and gay rights organisations are finding agreement that about 7% of the overall population is gay, with higher concentration, perhaps 10% of the total, in major cities. Seven percent of South Africa’s population – 44.8 million at the last Census in 2001– equates to 3,136,000 people.
- Gays and lesbian buying power in the US is set to exceed $835 billion by 2011: that according to 2007 report from market research firm Packaged Facts. This report pegs the 2006 buying power of gays and lesbians at $660 billion, an amount that will increase significantly as the US gay and lesbian population, estimated at 15.3 million, grows to a projected 16.3 million in 2011.
- In 2002, a study from the Brookings Institution by Richard Florida and Gary Gates found a relationship between high-tech cities and those with large gay populations. For some time, gays have also been considered early adopters of technology.
- Australian research findings show the large brand loyalty potentially on offer from the gay market – with three out of four Australian gay consumers favouring brands that they see targeting them effectively.
- A 2003 Forrester Research study showed that almost 30% of gay men and women had been online for more than seven years, compared with 18% of straight men and women. In addition, gay men are more likely to own portable MP3 players, browser-enabled phones and personal video recorders.
- Travel is a particularly strong spending area for many in the gay and lesbian community. According to Community Marketing, Inc. the American gay and lesbian community represents a $54.1 billion travel market, or an estimated 10% of the US travel industry.