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Bermuda to hold first gay pride march

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Huge step: Winston Godwin-DeRoche, right, who challenged Bermuda’s same-sex marriage ban with his husband, Greg, welcomed a march to promote tolerant attitudes (Callie Nicole Photography)

Bermuda’s first march to celebrate gay pride is to be held this summer.

LGBTQ people and same-sex marriage campaigners said the Bermuda Pride event would help to reinforce that gay people are part of island society.

A spokesman for OutBermuda, the main sponsor of the march, said: “OutBermuda is proud to support Bermuda Pride 2019.

“There is an inherent value in a public celebration of our LGBTQ community in Bermuda as a reminder that we exist and that we are members of the Bermuda community.

“It is also a beacon of hope to LGBTQ youth and others who feel that they are alone.

“OutBermuda will continue to promote and support the wellbeing, health, dignity, security, safety and protection of the LGBTQ community in Bermuda, for as long as we are needed.”

The march, to be held on August 31, will follow World Pride day in New York this month — which will also mark the 50th anniversary of a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan, that sparked large-scale demonstrations and disorder which led to a more tolerant attitude towards gay people.

Winston Godwin-DeRoche, who challenged Bermuda’s same-sex marriage ban with his husband, Greg, said a march in Bermuda was “a huge step in the right direction”.

He said: “In Bermuda we are so quick to sweep things under the rug if they challenge the status quo. People argue why isn’t there a straight Pride, and I say, really, be thankful you don’t need one.

“Pride originated from Stonewall and the LGBTQ community fighting back and resisting police because they’d had enough.

“Pride has now become a celebration of that and remembering what it took to get where we are now. We are still fighting for equality in Bermuda.”

The march was organised by equal rights campaigners Liz Christopher, David Northcott and Chen Foley.

A spokeswoman for gay rights group the Rainbow Alliance said: “Gay pride events exist globally as celebrations of visibility, progress, and the continued struggle for LGBTQ equity within heteronormative society.

“The Rainbow Alliance advocates for safer spaces in Bermuda and applauds the organisers of this summer’s Pride celebration.”

Pride parades are now held around the world, with some of the largest in the US, Britain and Europe.

Mark Anderson, a Bermudian entertainer, who is gay, said he was “ecstatic” that a parade would be held in Bermuda.

He added: “I think this is the right timing for it. Now Bermuda is going to be put on the map with all the other jurisdictions around the world — it will be recognised that Bermuda is joining the world in taking a stance with gay pride.”

He added: “I would like to see every Bermudian living abroad make a great effort in coming home and supporting this parade and if they do, be sure to put it on their immigration slip.

Adrian Hartnett-Beasley, who married husband Shane in New York in 2015, said the couple would attend the parade.

He added: “We are looking forward to celebrating, with our LGBTQ community, all the accomplishments of the last few years and especially as we reflect on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 1969 — so much that we have now has come at great cost to those who came before us.

Mr Hartnett-Beasley said: “I believe that Bermuda Pride is a good opportunity for allies to show up for us in a visible way and I will be encouraging my straight friends and family to march with us in celebration of who we are as people and in solidarity in the face of the very real obstacles we face on a daily basis.”

Mark Anderson, far left, organised a vigil at the Cenotaph for the victims of a 2016 mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida
Adrian Hartnett-Beasley with husband Shane