Pride: we belong in Bermuda
Members of the gay community will spread the message that they belong to Bermuda at the island's first Pride parade, its organisers said yesterday.
Chen Foley, Liz Christopher and David Northcott unveiled plans and a specially designed logo for the event at its launch in Hamilton.
Activities are expected to run over four days from August 29 to September 1 and will include international speakers, entertainment and a city parade.
Mr Foley said yesterday: “We belong to Bermuda and Bermuda belongs to us, just like everybody else.
“The theme is quite simply, ‘We Belong'.
“The purpose of Pride is really to start taking up space in our own community.”
He explained that the thinking behind Bermuda Pride came after the trio attended a Beyond Homophobia conference at The University of the West Indies in Jamaica, where they learnt about equal-rights work and campaigns taking place in the Caribbean.
Mr Foley said the organisers had been “overwhelmed” by the response from people within gay groups and the wider island community since they started floating the idea for a Bermuda Pride.
He added that the date of the parade — August 31 — was chosen as it was the closest Saturday to the 25th anniversary of the Stubbs Bill, which decriminalised sex between consenting adult males in September 1994.
Ms Christopher told supporters yesterday that the parade was not intended to be “particularly political”.
She added: “It is our great entrance into civil society and telling people, we are in a place where we belong; this is our Bermuda, too.”
Mr Northcott said that the event's logo was based on the Bermudian moongate symbol, representing unity and love.
He added that rays extending from the familiar shape represented a “new dawn” and told how brown and black were added to the more typical combination of rainbow colours — a move adopted by campaigners in Philadelphia and in Manchester, England, in recent years.
Mr Northcott explained earlier that the international movement was led largely by gay white men, who may also have benefited most from the progress, and that the role of queer and trans people of other races had often been ignored.
He said: “In organising Bermuda's first Pride, we felt it was important to include the additional stripes in the rainbow, particularly since we, as a country, have both a majority black population but also a long history of racism.
“Specifically, we wanted to include the stripes to bring attention to the need for the LGBTQI+ community as a whole to fight not only for specific LGBTQI+ rights, such as equal marriage, but to also campaign on other issues that affect LGBTQI+ people, including racism, sexism and economic inequality.
“We, as LGBTQI+ Bermudians and organisers of Bermuda's first Pride, are proud to embrace the fight against all forms of discrimination.”
A Bermuda Pride website went live yesterday and provided details of a panel discussion to take place at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club on August 30.
Presenters from Jamaica, Guyana, Barbados and Trinidad & Tobago will consider how colonial-era laws have affected the expression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other identities in the British Commonwealth Caribbean.
The Hamilton Princess & Beach Club and Butterfield Bank are among the corporate supporters of Bermuda Pride, which has OutBermuda as its main sponsor.
A community celebration will be held at Victoria Park on August 31, starting with a yoga session at 11am, which will be followed by a picnic.
After the parade, which is scheduled to start at 2pm, there will be a ceremony and party at the park.
Fringe events include a PechaKucha night of mini-lectures on August 29 and a proposed brunch on September 1.
The website said: “Bermuda Pride celebrates the diversity that makes up our island home.
“It openly and unapologetically raises the profile of Bermuda's LGBTQI+ people and the allies who continue to support the LGBTQI+ community.
“Bermuda has come a long way in embracing difference in sexuality and gender and that should be celebrated.”
Peter Carpenter was among the people who welcomed Bermuda Pride at the launch event and recalled the challenges faced by gay people before the Stubbs Bill was passed.
He said: “It was pretty nasty to get up every single day of your life and be considered a potential criminal just for sharing your affection with the person of your choice, and that's not a healthy environment in which for people to live, grow and develop a sense of family, however one might define that.
“Dr John Stubbs's Bill repealed those two laws into the trash can for ever and I got up the next day feeling a little lighter in my step and a little happier for the potential of growth in our community.”
In reference to the planned events of August 31, he added: “I sort of see it as Bermuda coming out of the closet because this issue has been packed away and ignored, especially by our government, by all parties, over the years.”
Mr Carpenter added: “This is finally all coming out into the open with dignity and with pride, joy and a sense of respect.”
• For more information on Bermuda Pride, visit bermudapride.net