Recently, we have witnessed the LGBTQ achieve equality that in many respects elude the Caribbean community in terms of tolerance.
Creating a safe place for Caribbean born or native homosexuals to be proud of their culture and sexual preference, Hemish Gervis created the Gay Caribbean USA Pageant – now in its seventh year.
“The pageant started very humbly in someone’s basement in Brooklyn. We’ve grown where we’re now at Restoration Plaza with a little over 400 persons in attendance,” Gervis, a St. Lucian, said.
In its beginning stages, the pageant was kept at a small scale only inviting close friends. Following the excitement of the first year, Gervis made the decision to publicize the pageant and invite the media.
With opening it to the public, Gervis and his pageant committee endured backlash mainly on social media.
“People were not pleased that such an event was going on. But we persisted and now we still get a few negative comments,” he said.
Entering its seventh year, Gervis believes the pageant has and continues to achieve its goal of creating a safe space for heterosexuals and homosexuals to enjoy a night of fun and entertainment.
“We thought to invite everyone under the same roof to experience a fun-filled, entertainment event to develop that warm atmosphere we hope to create,” he explained.
This year, the Gay Caribbean Pageant USA is titled “The Royal Battle.” Inviting former queens, eight former pageant winners will fight for the coveted crown.
“This year should be a really good show because we have the best of the best coming forward to participate in the pageant,” he said.
Structured like any other pageant, the contestants battle for a crown through four segments: swimwear, eveningwear, talent, and general question and answer.
“The Royal Battle’s” contestants hail from Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana, U.S. Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, Jamaica, and Grenada.
Gay Caribbean USA Pageant “The Royal Battle” (1368 Fulton St. between Brooklyn and New York avenues in Bedford-Stuyvesant, www.event