It was a show of Caribbean and rainbow pride.
More than a hundred Caribbean-American members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community marched at the 25th annual Queens Pride parade in Jackson Heights on June 4. A Queens-based queer advocacy group, Caribbean Equality Project (CEP), led the island representation at the parade, and the turnout was one of the biggest to date, said the group’s founder.
“We had over 125 people with us and it was amazing because about 135 people registered to march with us and most of them showed up,” said Mohamed Amin, executive director or the group.
It was the first time the organization encouraged potential marchers to register online, and Amin says he was thrilled to see how many LGBT marchers and supporters checked in. Seeing a large gathering of people representing their native and ancestral countries in one of the city’s notable gay pride parades, was a great display of pride from LGBT Caribbean-Americans, he added.
“For us what was memorable was this being the largest we’ve ever assembled, and we did it in one of the most prideful and demonstrative ways, showing off our Indo and Afro Caribbean cultures,” said Amin. “We encouraged people to come dressed in cultural clothing and seeing people follow this theme was very nice.”
He also says that seeing marchers, particularly newcomers, was the highlight of the walk because it pushes forth more self-love and provides hidden LGBT members with some encouragement.
“It’s always empowering to see people come out and celebrate their heritage, we get a lot of support on social media, and there are people who live in Georgia, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago or Guyana — and they’re able to connect with us and live their truth through the work doing in New York,” said Amin. “That type of feedback is a source of inspiration for us.”
Amin adds that CEP aims to further create more avenues for the LGBT community.
“We want to continue the liberation movement we are building in the city, and we are marching for those on the sidelines or living in the shadows, and still dealing with homophobia,” he said.
Participating in the parade was a chance for Caribbean-Americans to take pride in who they are, and also break through the stigmas that remain.
“One thing we are learning about our community is that there’s still a lack of LGBT representation and there’s still a struggle with the opportunity to be visible,” he said. “The pride for us is about liberation and as we break those chains, and celebrate in our visibility — it was just great to see our marchers waving their rainbow flags and their country flags.”
The CEP will also be in attendance in the city’s pride parade later this month at 39th Street and Madison Avenue in Manhattan on June 25.