Set up in 1997, GALA is a Johannesburg-based organisation that aims to archive and record the experiences of the LGBTI community in South Africa and a number of other African countries. In addition to this archival work, GALA also leads queer history-themed tours of Johannesburg and Soweto.
There are two tours to choose from: a 1.5-hour walking tour of tough inner-city neighbourhood Hillbrow and the nearby Constitution Hill; or a four-hour bus tour of Johannesburg and Soweto.
During the Hillbrow tour visitors learn how and why this neighbourhood in particular came to be at the centre of the fight for LGBTI rights during apartheid and have the opportunity to visit historically significant places, such as the city’s first gay bar and the Constitutional Court, where the hard-won rights of LGBTI South Africans are now enshrined.
As part of the Soweto tour, visitors also get to visit the site of the infamous Forest Town gay party, in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs, that was raided by the police in 1966; and hear about the moral panic and subsequent illegalisation of homosexuality that followed.
The tour then heads to Soweto to meet local queer activists who share their experiences of LGBTI life in the townships today.
Walking tours are for groups of up to six people, bus tours for groups of 10 or more. Booking is essential. Booking for bus tours must be made several weeks in advance.