Members of the city’s Caribbean LGBT community celebrated pride in their identities at the 26th annual Queens Pride Parade in Jackson Heights on June 3. Thousands participated in the parade including Queens borough president Melinda Katz and other elected officials. Queens-based queer advocacy group Caribbean Equality Project (CEP), also took part in the festivity for the third year, happily displaying pride in their Caribbean heritage and identity, said the group’s director.
“Queens pride is always exciting for us. We do a lot of our work in Queens, and when we do we always represent our identity and showcase our Caribbean culture,” said Mohamed Q. Amin. “That’s the message we want to send. We want to show people that we can be Caribbean, be prideful of our culture, and that includes everything from music, traditional wear, and carnival.”
The group’s grand display of culture won them the parade’s well-respected Screaming Queen award. The prize is given to participating groups that present a combination of culture and gay pride. Amin says he was thrilled they were bestowed the honor.
“They thought out of the 98 groups that marched and registered, we were the best,” he said.
At the parade, dozens of members from the groups danced to music, while waving their ancestral flags, and sporting all types of traditional garb, from Indo-Caribbean to Afro-Caribbean clothing.
Amin says while the struggle for LGBT rights is an ongoing struggle, he is proud of the work his organization has established for Caribbean-Americans who are LGBT. He says seeing how much the group has grown is a testament to their hard work in creating safe spaces for the queer community and celebrating them.
“We are growing — the organization is growing and our base continues to get bigger because we are creating opportunities for the Caribbean LGBT to be who they are, be visible, and normalizing them,” he said. “The parade is just one of the ways that encompasses that narrative and want folks to know they can celebrate their culture and their identities at the same time.”
CEP will also be taking parting in Brooklyn’s pride parade in Park Slope, and hosting an interface at the Brooklyn Community Pride Center on June 9, 5:30–7:30 pm. And they will be in Manhattan’s pride festivities on June 24. Visitors interested in marching with CEP can met at W. 17th St. between Seventh and Eighth avenues.