Queer Jo'burg: Uncovering the city's hidden past
Please note that the Queer Jo'burg tours are currently on hold. We hope to start
running tours again in 2017. We apologise for any inconvenience.
Queer Johannesburg includes both a walking tour of Constitution Hill and Hillbrow and a longer bus tour of Johannesburg and Soweto. It is part of GALA’s mission to popularize queer history and experience by developing creative ways of introducing straight and queer people alike to the wealth of information it has collected. The tour reveals the thread of LGBTI history and contemporary experience in the tapestry of Johannesburg. Over the years Queer Johannesburg has been a hit with visiting tourists and conference delegates, as well as local residents.
Our dynamic guides are GALA staff members Nomancotsho Pakade, who has her finger on the pulse of current trends in the city, and Hoosain Gabriel Khan, whose knowledge of South Africa’s queer history is encyclopedic.
Walking Tour of Hillbrow and Constitution Hill
1hr 30 mins; 1 - 6 people; R200 per group
Join us for a walking tour of Constitution Hill and the former queer neighbourhood of Hillbrow in Johannesburg. The GALA guides will lead you through the streets of Hillbrow and Joubert Park, where you can hear about how queer Johannesburg life started here during World War II, and get a feeling for how LGBTI people of all races and classes experienced life in the city. The tour stops at Simon Nkoli Corner in Hillbrow and takes in the famous Harrison Reef Hotel, which housed South Africa’s longest-running gay bar and was also home to Africa’s first black LGBTI church. The walking tour ends at Constitution Hill where you can see how today’s constitutional equality for queer people is built on the site where thousands of men were incarcerated for ‘immorality’.
Bus Tour of Johannesburg and Soweto
4 hours; 10 people or more; R350 per person
Bookings need to be made 3 weeks in advance.
From parfaits d’amour at the Waldorf Hotel to LGBT students in the 1976 Soweto Uprising, the Bus Tour provides an opportunity for people to see Johannesburg ‘queerly’ as they never have before. The tour takes in the site of the infamous gay Forest Town party raided by the police in 1966, where one can hear about the moral panic which followed; it visits Constitution Hill and sees how today’s constitutional equality for LGBTI people is built on the site where thousands of men were incarcerated for ‘immorality’; the bus drives through Hillbrow and Joubert Park, it visits the home of Mrs. Phadi, and learn about the gay shebeen she opened in the 1980s that became the headquarters of the Gay and Lesbian Organisation of the Witwatersrand (GLOW); and it provides an opportunity to see Soweto through the eyes of its young queer residents, and hear about the township’s LGBTI history and ‘the life’ on its streets today.