News day / RAINBOW flags will fly high today as TT’s LGBTQI community begins its five-week long Pride month. Pride, a global celebration of LGBTQI people, will be observed here from June 22 to July 29. It begins today with the Pride Flag Raising at 9.30 am at different locations across the country, among them San Fernando, Fort George, St James and Calvary, Arima.
The celebrations will be held under the TT Pride Arts Festival and “for the first time in its history, encompass all the major celebrations of Pride Month in TT.”
Although Pride celebrations have been observed for the past 28 years in TT, this is the first year a Pride parade will be held. And that is because the festival was instead focused internally, said, Rudy Hanamji, chairman of the TT Pride Arts Festival Committee.
In a phone interview with Newsday Hanamji said this year’s Pride is more “public.”
“It is certainly more public. It is more focused on engaging the public. Before Pride celebrations were focused on the LGBT community,” he said.
Hanamji was told that the first TT Pride “was a small gathering at someone’s home where members remembered people who had passed away as well as had a party.” The attempt to engage more publicly, he added, comes shortly after the April 12 High Court ruling which found the buggery laws unconstitutional. Social activist Jason Jones led the battle against the State.
A release about Pride celebrations said, “The collaboration was inspired following the recent coming together of the LGBTQI community and their allies in the wake of the ‘Jones judgment’ and surrounding furore by those who believe that the community does not deserve to access universal fundamental rights and protections under the law.”
Hanamji also said, “It (the ruling) has certainly encouraged persons to recognise that the efforts of the LGBT community have been making headway. That in itself is something to be proud of and is recognition of human rights in TT. That has ignited people to celebrate.”
The celebration will include various events such as workshops, movie nights, talent shows, an open mic, hike, parties and the “highly anticipated” Pride Parade.
The community, the release said, further is being seen as a “triumph of collaboration between the major entities which host Pride events each year and non-LGBT+ allies alike.”
Since the ruling, various religious bodies have protested against the LGBTQI community and, recently, joined together to call for the Marriage Act to clearly state that marriage is between a biological male and biological female.
Hanamji said, in response to whether the community feared disruption of its celebrations by others, “We project a very large turnout from LGBT members and allies. Therefore, we have already been in touch with the police and private security in the event that others of a different persuasion should engage violently or otherwise. We have done that and they are fully aware. We have no intention of engaging them directly if they come out.”
Despite the “discrimination, lack of access to fundamental rights and hate” the LGBTQI community faces, Hanamji said, “there is still much for them to be proud of.”
“They continue to contribute to national development of our ‘rainbow nation’, as they have always done, not only in stereotypical roles as stylists, artisans, decorators and performers but indeed in all areas of society. Many have been awarded and recognised for their efforts at national and international levels.”
He added that this year’s Pride presents an opportunity for LGBTQI community and its allies to “unite for love” which is “needed ever more in our nation today.”
The TT Pride Arts Festival Committee, he said, “call upon all of TT to ‘stand with us’ side by side as we move Iere (land of the hummingbird) forward.”
For more info: www.queertt.com.