In the news: Reflections on Guyana’s first Pride Parade

Here’s an excerpt from a beautiful piece of writing in Stabroek News this week:

When it came time to hit streets of Georgetown for the Square of the Revolution, it was clear that the hundreds of marchers were ready for more than chants for equality and justice – they were ready to have fun. And so in true Guyanese fashion, when the big-truck music began playing, pure euphoria enveloped the crowd as persons advocated in the best way they knew, through dance, freedom and expression. For a community where secrecy and trauma have scarred how we look at ourselves, displaying our truth to the public in a space that was made for us and by us was better than any imitation of another country’s Carnival. We were able to display our pride on the very streets that our transgender siblings were murdered on. We were able to praise our human divinity in front of many of the churches that have historically condemned us for being abominations. And we were able to unite and be merry under the Golden Arrowhead, a flag that stands for a nation that says our love is illegal.

The Pride Parade was not about forcing an agenda on anyone. It was about showing the public that we exist and that the LGBTQI community is made up of people who deserve the same protections as everyone else. There is still a long way to go in terms of the LGBTQI rights movement in Guyana. For instance, despite promises from the political parties, there has been no action to decriminalise cross-dressing and same-sex intimacy. Furthermore, the Prevention of Discrimination Act 1970 still does not protect self-identified persons of the LGBTQI community. These three pillars of legal discrimination against LGBTQI persons are what the community want to be demolished. For far too long the community has relied on outsiders to make that change happen. This parade was the moment the community came together, despite its own internal struggles, to demand the recognition of our rights. Pride was not solely for LGBTQI persons, but for all Guyanese as was evident in the makeup of the parade.

On that momentous day, Pride cemented the presence of a silenced community into the Guyanese consciousness. Everyone that day burst forth in all shades of love to show the country that they will not continue to be afraid. Some time has passed since the parade and to expect immediate change would be naïve even for a child. No government official was present at the parade and comments following it from the public are testament to the still pervasive homophobic environment of the society. Discrimination will not end in our schools, businesses, workplaces, government buildings, restaurants, streets and homes overnight. But on 2 June 2018, all those persons, in or out of the proverbial closet, who occupy those places saw that they were not alone. On that day, I proudly waved the Guyana flag for the first time in my life. I waved it not because I was proud of my country but because I was proud of my people and when I am disappointed that my country is not on my side, I will always remember that my community, with all its pride, is.

Read more here.

Photo: Stabroek News

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