Out, proud but still victimised
When the first Joburg Pride took place in 1990, being out and proud was still so taboo that some participants wore paper bags over their heads.
Eleven years later, the event has become Africa's largest gay and lesbian pride parade, with more than 20000 bodies painting the streets of Johannesburg in rainbow colours.
Organisers expect to top that number when the parade is held at the Zoo Lake Sports Club tomorrow.
"Pride is no longer just for the LGBTI [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex] community," said Joburg Pride board member Thami Kotlolo.
"People are getting to understand it more."
Pride has improved with age, something Kotlolo said is due to the growth of the LGBTI community in Africa.
"Because we grow and become more of ourselves, we find more reason to celebrate who we are.
"We, as South Africa, are ready to start celebrating our belonging to the LGBTI community."
In a country where violence against gays and lesbians remains a brutal reality, this year's "Protect Our Rights" theme couldn't be more fitting.
"We're still victimised by society," said Kotlolo, referring to an incident earlier this year when the National House of Traditional Leaders called for a review of a clause protecting gays and lesbians from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
"The mere fact that there are people who still think we need to review basic human rights is a constitutional problem. [Questioning gay rights] should never be a discussion."
Joburg Pride will feature performances by Flash Republic, Crazy White Boy and Nancy G.
"I'm excited to play for such a great and receptive audience," said Nancy G. While she is looking forward to having fun, she is also keen to raise awareness of homophobia.
"We're a new race of human beings and we're free to be who we want to be."
Aside from the main parade, there are Side Dish events, which include art exhibitions, film screenings and pre- and post-Pride parties.