Before the march started, the executive members of the society handed supporters and society members white balloons and posters with messages against homophobia on them. According to Up and Out Chairperson Nazo Tunzi, the balloons symbolise the lives that have been lost because of hate crimes and the pain that they have gone through.
Students joined the march as it progressed. Most of the marchers wore white to symbolise lives that have been lost. Von Widdern emphasised that everyone, even students who were not part of the society, was welcome to join the march. “Straight people are also allowed, we are all human,” he said.
The march was escorted by security guards for safety reasons. This was a silent march and some of the participants had tape over their mouths to symbolise the silence of people who do not come out of the closet because of homophobia.
At the end of the march the students gathered outside the CSA, bowed their heads and had a moment of silence to “show respect to people all over the world who experience homophobic attacks because of their sexual preferences,” Tunzi said. Thereafter the balloons, which had individual messages written on them, were released into the air.
Third-year BCom Internal Auditing student Thabo Mangoenyane said, “Today’s peace march was special to me because it commemorates a day upon which our identity was given a shot at survival.” He added ,that “It also gave me bittersweet emotions because not only do we celebrate who we are, but also remember those who have suffered injustices at the hands of the social ills known as homophobia and transphobia.”
Photo: Reinhard Nell