Johannesburg will celebrate its 18th annual Joburg Pride Parade on October 6th.

It will be preceded by a series of events designed to commemorate the country’s landmark constitutional freedoms that make South Africa the first and only country in the world to have a constitution that expressly guarantees protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The first ever African gay and lesbian Pride parade took place in Johannesburg in 1990 with fewer than a thousand participants, some of whom 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.

However, while the event has become less political and more celebratory in nature, Joburg Pride remains, at its core, a call for gay and lesbian equality and a recognition of South Africa’s diversity.

In recent years some Joburg Pride events have been dogged by claims of mismanagement and lack of diversity.

In response, in early 2007 a new not-for-profit company was formed, composed of new organisers with the aim being to rehabilitate the institution and create a world-class pride celebration.

The 2007 Joburg Pride celebrations officially kick off on Thursday, September 27th with a charity screening of the comedy Another Gay Movie at Cinema Nouveau in Rosebank, followed by the invitation-only launch of Ster Kinekor’s Pride Film Festival, a stand-alone gay and lesbian film festival held during the Pride festivities.

A number of events will also take place across Gauteng in the week preceding the parade.

Additionally, clubs and entertainment venues in Johannesburg and Pretoria will be hosting numerous parties, expected to draw significant crowds, while community organisations will be presenting seminars on more serious topics.

Joburg Pride Festival Week will conclude on Saturday October 6th with the Parade and ‘Party in the Park’ at Zoo Lake Sports Club.

The customary colourful parade is scheduled to start at 11am from Zoo Lake Sports Club.

Chart-topping electronica band Flash Republic will perform live on stage from 10am, officially kicking off the parade at the end of their set.

A minute’s silence will be observed to mark the recent brutal murder of two lesbians in Meadowlands, as well as acknowledging all victims of hate-crimes.

Then the parade, with over 16 floats, will make its way through the streets of Rosebank. The parade will take a circular route, returning to Zoo Lake Sports Club at around 1pm, when the celebration is set to continue.

To see a complete festival guide or for more information on Joburg Pride 2007, visit the official website at: www.joburgpride.org.

Duane Wells © 2007 Navigaytion.com; All Rights Reserved.