Cape Town drag performer Ina Propriette. Picture: Kirsten Gobey
Cape Town drag performer Ina Propriette. Picture: Kirsten Gobey

Vogue Nights shows why queer spaces are important

By Jamal Grootboom Time of article published Dec 3, 2021

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Vogue Nights finally made its way to Cape Town and presented queer joy spectacularly on Saturday.

As one of the biggest queer events in the country, the ballroom centric night was set to make its way to the Mother City earlier this year but was postponed due to the rise of the delta variant and South Africa’s move to a higher lockdown level in response to the 3rd wave.

The queer community and allies from across the city came together to celebrate one of the biggest parts of the queer culture, the ballroom scene.

And when we say the LGBTQI+ community was there, we mean the entire community. In something that happens rarely, the crowd was filled with every gender identity from trans men, trans women, non-binary folk, genderqueer, cisgender to all the spectrums on the sexuality from gay, bisexual, lesbian, pansexual, asexual, etc., to walk or watch people take part in a ball.

@kidr3dsky Vogue nights ✨🏳️‍🌈 #fyp #tiktoksa #capetown #vogue #ballroom #genderfluid #queer #jozi #drag #lgbt #vogue #love #fypシ #dance ♬ original sound - Sickickmusic

For those who don’t know, at a ball attendees walk in different categories to win the grand prize.

While this is often a competition between houses, for the first edition of Vogue Nights in Cape Town, the categories were open to all there.

These included: runway, face, sex siren, Afro dance and the highlight at any ball, Vogue Femme.

Kabeel Matta at Vogue Nights Cape Town. Picture: Kirsten Gobey

Throughout the night, the host of Tutu Zondo also emphasised that it was a queer safe space and that anyone that non-consensual touching was strongly prohibited and perpetrators would be dealt with by themselves and security.

Queer safe spaces have been a hot topic amongst the larger LGBTQI+ community globally as many have had to close down due to the coronavirus pandemic. Even in Cape Town, the popular restaurant and live venue Raptor Room had to shut their doors.

Vogue Nights Cape Town. Picture: Sandra Nagel

But why are queer spaces still important in a time when queer acceptance is at an all-time high?

While on paper and in media it seems that real strides are being made with queerness being seen as a normal part of society, on the ground, there’s still a large group of people who refuse to move with the times.

And even though South Africa has one of the best constitutions in the world with regards to protection for queer people along with same-sex marriage being legal since 2006.

Queer acceptance is still something that struggles to happen in the day-to-day lives of queer people.

South Africa has seen a huge increase of LGBQTI+ people being attacked and killed recently purely based on who they are.

A Vogue Nights attendee walking the runway. Picture: Sandra Nagel

And on social media, it is no different.

As there is also always a debate around queer people’s existence being questioned to music frustration from the community.

Local social media influencer Nadia Jaftha’s brother Taariq is an example of this.

For the last couple of weeks, he has been spewing right-wing talking points sharing his queerphobic, transphobic and homophobic views on Instagram.

Vogue Nights Cape Town. Picture: @melanateyourmood

And while his first account was banned, a new account popped up where he was sharing more of his hate speech and attacking queer people who spoke out against him and his sister, including “No Hiding Here” director Gabe Gabriel.

While Nadia and their mother Nawal initially shared statements in disagreement with what Taariq said.

Both of them haven’t commented about his recent antics on Instagram while it is clear that they are still socialising with him and therefore enabling him to continue on the endless tirade against queer people for no reason.

And this is why queer spaces stay is important. For many queer people, a sense of being free around their community in a safe environment isn’t something that’s a day-to-day experience.

Zaun Mark Gordon-Tejada at Vogue Nights Cape Town. Picture: @melanateyourmood

Events such as Vogue Nights bring together the community in a way that is rarely seen outside of annual Pride events.

Yes, we have gay clubs in Cape Town and Joburg but even then with many of them, the spaces cater predominantly to cisgay men on top of there still being a racial divide which is a separate issue on its own.

Vogue Nights Cape Town. Picture: Kirsten Gobey

But at Vogue Nights the beauty of queer expression was is full-bloom with people feeling free enough to express themselves to their full extent.

Whether it is someone who is bunch queen, high femme drag, femme queen, hyper masc, androgyny and everything in between.

Queer safe spaces aren’t just about grooving.

They act as a place for queer people to fellowship in a way that isn’t possible normally.

And for that, Vogue Nights deserves to get tens across the board.

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