Queer sports and free expression on Freedom Day

The organisers gave Freedom Day a sporting kick to celebrate inclusivity, diversity, and the spirit of athleticism within the LGBTQ+ community. Photo by Chris Gilili

Queer people celebrated Freedom Day in Makhaza by playing sports and open mic performance.

In Khayelitsha on Freedom Day this past Saturday, the Ubuntu Queer Collective joined members of the LGBTQIA+ community at the Desmond Tutu Hall in Makhaza, for a sports day to promote athleticism among one another. The participants played netball and soccer, as well as taking to a stage for live performances and an open mic session.

Other organisations who supported the event include Triangle Project, Safeplace International, Pachedu, Free Gender, Isitha Womens Group, and Thandanani Women’s Group.

Vinolia Sidukwana, of Ubuntu Queer Collective, said this was their first sports festival as the organisation, and they were aiming to promote inclusivity and a spirit of athleticism in the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. “We would’ve had a a big turnout if the event was well marketed. The aim was to celebrate Freedom Day in a different way as a queer community. We used this day as part of advocacy, as opposed to the normal marches we have. We were celebrating our freedom, and we had the privilege to have some of our siblings join us from countries like Zimbabwe and Congo, which was great.”

Aviwe Maqhina, a founder of the Happy Days Programme, which is a physical therapy programme for the LGBTQI community, said they prepared the day for them to get together as a queer community, to create a safe space for themselves and to have fun. “We normally meet in spaces to drink, but today is different. We are in a space that is our own and where we are not judged. And we are delighted to be doing this in Khayelitsha, a community that is well known for ill-treating queer people and with many incidents of violence against gay people. We are happy to have had this sports day and are hoping to have more events of this nature, and have more of our peers also taking part in sport,” said Maqhina.

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A lack of information and support for queer people and their initiatives makes organising queer events a challenge, she said, and that despite a low turnout, the Freedom Day event was a success because they had embraced their freedom. 

One of the participants on Saturday, Ricardo Devos told Elitsha that for them to be able to do their event in Khayelitsha, on Freedom Day, was very important. “For us to be able to take up space and be seen in our community, that means so much. Many people are not educated about gay people and everything that is related to the queer community; therefore we are very happy for a day such as this one.

“Sports is also a great tool for unifying people, even in the past. All we are hoping for is to have the community support; we want to see the community of Makhaza fully involved and also maybe join these games in the future, that would mean a lot for us. Most of the time we are not understood by society,” said Devos.

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About Chris Gilili 62 Articles
Chris Gilili, a 23 year old freelance journalist based in East London. Graduated from Walter Sisulu University media studies school in 2015. Had a stint with Independent Media, in sports writing. Passionate about news and the media.