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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


‘We are human’ – LGBTQIA community marches to create awareness

'People have a false perspective of the LGBTQIA+ community.'


Members of the LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual) community marched in Pretoria yesterday with rainbow-coloured balloons and a pride flag to create awareness on the last day of Pride Month.

Warrant officer Duan Smith from the Wonderboom South police station organised the march and said it was important to create awareness and educate the public because the LGBTQIA+ community was often misunderstood and discriminated against.

Love and respect

“We wanted to educate and inform the people about what the community was about. We are all about love and respect and we are here to say that we also have a place in the greater community,” he said.

Smith said they will continue to stand up for their rights.

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Members of the Democratic Alliance also joined the march at the Rara’s Club in Wonderboom South as they made their way to the Mayville Mall. One of the participants, Lodewyk Hatting, said the march was important because people were still judging and discriminating against the LGBTQIA+ community.

“People have a false perspective of the LGBTQIA+ community. For many people, the LGBTQIA+ community was the only family they had. Often, when a person climbs out of the closet, their families kicked them out of the house and rejected them. That’s why we need to stand together as the LGBTQIA+ community,” he said.

Hatting said he had got used to the hate through the years.

“Calling me a moffie is like telling me I have blue eyes. I choose for it not to hurt me any more,” he said.

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Hatting said his dream was to have equal rights, regardless of sexuality.

“We are all human,” he said. Drag queen Dean Sweeney, better known as Dené Melrouche, said he was chased away from home when he came out of the closet.

“And today my mother is one of my biggest fans. She made my first drag show dress out of a curtain,” she said.

LGBTQIA and suicide

Melrouche said many people from the LGBTQIA+ community committed suicide due to hate and discrimination.

“That is why we need to stand together and support each other. We still have people telling us we will go to hell because we are gay,” she said.

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Melrouche said her goal as a professional drag queen was to stand up for the community’s rights.

“We are human, whether we are gay and you are straight,” she said.

Another marcher Ramon Storm said “accepting each other and coming together as one is where we can inspire love. We are all different but it is our differences that make us beautiful. Putting our differences aside, we can create change”.

“As the fairy godmother says ‘have courage and be kind’. Where there is love and kindness, there is goodness and where there is goodness there is magic. So let’s make some magic,” he said.

Storm thanked Smith for the initiative to put the march together to create awareness.

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“May this be the first of many marches to come,” he said.

Smit said the march was a huge success.

“The march is to spread love and hope and show the people who we are,” he said.

– marizkac@citizen.co.za