You can bet, they will be out in their numbers

Doreen Zimbizi

Doreen Zimbizi

When South Africa won its freedom in 1994, it was not just the end of apartheid that was celebrated, but also other freedoms people had been deprived of.

Minority groups such as the gays and lesbians, gained unprecedented freedoms that were guaranteed in the constitution's bill of rights. Equality and the recognition of gay rights propelled the country into one of the most progressive countries in the world. For most people, gay icons such as the late Simon Nkoli, Beverly Distie, Mark Gevisser and Judge Edwin Cameroon were faces of gay rights activism. And together with their comrades, they fought hard to have these rights guaranteed.

There have been fun and games too. Top of the list have been pride parades around the country. And they rock.

For the last 18 years, every year for a week in September, gays and lesbians come out in huge numbers in Johannesburg to celebrate what has become one of the most colourful and outrageous parades or festivals in this southern tip of the world. This year, the Joburg Pride Festival starts on September 30 and runs until October 6.

There will be parties, films, exhibitions and outrageous costumes. Leafy Rosebank will host the parade, which will snake through the suburb and end at the The Zoo Lake Country club.

Fringe events include exhibitions, theatre, seminars and gay and lesbian interest events. A new edition this year is the Pride Film festival presented by Cinema Nouveau. Among the films will be Another Gay Movie.

The longest running gay event in Africa ends with a Mardi Gras at the Zoo Lake Sports Club on October 6.