Metro Weekly

Pride Afrique: Out in Africa

Pride Afrique connects LGBTQ Africans throughout the continent and the diaspora with its second annual virtual experience.

Pride Afrique: Rainbow Project -- Photos: Sokari Higgwe
Pride Afrique: Rainbow Project — Photos: Sokari Higgwe

The first Pride Afrique was supposed to be a one-off event.

Launched last year as the premiere pan-African LGBTQ Pride, and broadcast globally online, the event convened over 130 organizations, along with hundreds of activists and participants on the continent and around the world.

“We didn’t expect the kind of feedback we would get from the larger community,” says Marline Oluchi, a Nigeria-based LGBTQ/gender activist and member of the Pride Afrique team. “But when we saw what we could do, for us and by us, we decided to keep doing it annually. And here we are.”

Pride Afrique is set to return for its second year for three days starting Wednesday, August 24. Its goal is to present “an online experience of powerful storytelling and performances featuring the most critical voices on Africa’s LGBTQI issues.”

The brainchild of brand experience specialist and entrepreneur Kehinde Bademosi, Pride Afrique was conceived during the pandemic lockdown as a vital venue for community and expression.

“During the lockdown, not even after, I think [Kehinde] thought about the fact that for the first time, Black people in the diaspora who have had the experience of Pride, the few African countries who have been able to have Pride events, Pride months, Pride conferences, it would not happen because nobody could go anywhere,” Oluchi recalls.

So, Bademosi rallied his network of activists and organizers, including Oluchi, to brainstorm the concept. “We had meetings over the name, we had meetings over what programs to hold. How do we make this fun? How do we make this informative? How do we carry different regions along? It was a whole lot of work,” she says.

But the team’s mission was inspired. “Nobody has really put in efforts to have the first continental Pride, right? Each country just does their own Pride, no one has really come together as a continent.” No one had until Pride Afrique, a robust platform for LGBTQ Africans to share ideas, space, and experiences.

And, while the Pride Afrique team plans ahead for their inaugural in-person events later this year, this summer’s virtual edition will carry the message of African queer hope. For Oluchi, that hope “is in the tenacity we have as LGBT+ persons on the continent,” she says.

“Because no matter the context, the legal context, the social context of homophobia, no matter the struggles, no matter the different layers of marginalization we experience as Africans living on the continent, there’s this joy, there’s this tangible hope that comes when you move into a gathering of LGBT+ persons.

“It does not matter what is going on,” she continues. “The fact that that tiny speck of hope, it always still sparks. It never, never, never dims out. I mean, an arrest could be happening here, we would escape this arrest, and we’d go to a safe house, and we’re sitting there, thinking, ‘Okay, what next?’ This air of complete defeat has never been present. That is the joy and queer hope I would most identify with when it comes to us. The tenacity to be who we are, do what we do, and still be here.”

Pride Afrique 2022 will be held from August 24 to 26, starting daily at 12 p.m. EST, 5 p.m. WAT, 7 p.m. EAT and 6 p.m. SAST. Visit www.prideafrique.org.

Pre-events are ongoing across Pride Afrique’s social media platforms @prideafrique on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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