The colorful parade also saw the colors of the rainbow.
The 29th annual Phagwah parade lit up Liberty Avenue and 125th Street in Richmond Hill with more than the colors of the Holi festival on March 12. For the second year in a row, the Caribbean Equality Project, a Queens-based queer advocacy group, marched alongside revelers waving the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) rainbow flag.
Last year the parade made history by inviting members of the Caribbean LGBT community to the notoriously religious parade. Members of the Caribbean Equality Project lauded the parade organizers for the their inclusive move and highlighting the growth of queer Hindu Caribbean community.
“It sends a powerful message to our community knowing that that flag not only represents you being who you are, but that LGBTQ voices are also included in religious settings,” said Mohamed Q. Amin, founder of the Caribbean Equality Project. “This parade for us this year was not just about marching and representing, but it’s also political and educational.”
This year the group was welcomed to march again and the lively celebration represents many of the core values the queer community believes in, said Amin.
“For us, this is what celebrating Holi is, this is the best way we know to represent and we want the LGBTQ community to feel safe and feel included,” he said.
“We just want to represent our right to march in this parade.”
Phagwah, also called Holi, is a religious Hindu celebration of colors, that honors unity, life and welcomes the beginning of the spring season. The ancient holiday is celebrated in some parts of the Caribbean and although religious, Amin said the LGBT community should not be excluded.
“The colors represent love, happiness unity and the vibrance of it, these are all things that are promoted and shared by CEP and to be included it echoes and amplifies who we are and what we represent as an organization and as a community, and the LGBT is at the front line with everyone else, marching as equals in the Phagwah parade.”
And Amin said his organization, as well as the city’s queer community, will continue to be a part of the parade.
“We will be there as long as organizers organized the parade,” he said. “As long as the Phagwah Parade is in Richmond Hill, the Caribbean Equality Project will be present marching with our rainbow flags representing our community.”