By Sueann Wickham
In a dazzling display of solidarity and celebration, the Guyana Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTIQ)+Coalition has launched its much-anticipated annual Pride Festival 2023. Throughout the entire month of June, this observance aims to advocate for the rights of the LGBTIQ+ community, while fostering social awareness and promoting a more tolerant society.
The festival boasts a vibrant array of activities, expertly curated to empower and uplift LGBTIQ+ individuals, allies, and supporters. From captivating campaigns to exhilarating entertainment, participants will unite to shine a spotlight on the struggles and unwavering resilience of the LGBTIQ+ community in Guyana and the wider Caribbean. Known as 592 Pride, this momentous occasion is proudly hosted by the Guyana LGBTQ Coalition, comprising the forces of Guyana Trans United (GTU), Sexualities, Women and Genders (SWAG), and SASOD Guyana, with SASOD Guyana leading the way as the esteemed convenor and secretariat of the Coalition.
Under the powerful banner of “Decriminalise Sex Guyana!”, this year’s Festival boldly confronts a stark reality. Guyana stands among a minority of only six countries in the Caribbean whose laws continue to criminalize same-sex intimacy. The Coalition has since underscored that these archaic laws are remnants of British colonialism, long repealed by parliaments in the United Kingdom and the Bahamas, and deemed unconstitutional by Caribbean courts in independent CARICOM countries such as Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and most recently, Barbados.
Kicking off on June 1 and extending until June 11, the Guyana Pride Festival promises an exhilarating lineup of daily events that will captivate the hearts and minds of attendees. The Festival commenced with an inspiring Inter-Faith Forum on June 1, graciously hosted by Bishop Francis Alleyne, the esteemed head of the Roman Catholic Church in Guyana, at the Catholic Life Centre on Brickdam.
As the festivities unfolded, participants reveled in the spirited Pride Games Nite on June 2, followed by an electrifying Pride Party at Magic City Lounge in Newtown Kitty on June 3. Adding a thrilling new element to the Pride calendar, the first-ever Rainbow Paintball Contest took place on June 4 at the Police Sports Club Ground, Eve Leary, in partnership with Kendallz Extreme Sports—a proud Guyanese-owned outdoor sports and recreation business.
The festivities continued with the enchanting Pride Film Nite on June 4, held at the Guyana Marriott Hotel, a newly established private sector partner proudly supporting this year’s Pride Festival.
The Rainbow Mixer on June 5 at World of Cocktails in Kitty offered an inclusive space for attendees to connect and celebrate equality for all.
The Pride Symposium to be held today, marks the momentous 20th anniversary of SASOD Guyana. Being held at the Herdmanston Lodge Hotel, this symposium aims to critically examine the current state of LGBTIQ+ rights in Guyana, igniting important conversations and inspiring positive change.
As the Festival heads into its final weekend, the excitement continues to soar. Flavas Restaurant & Bar welcomes participants on June 8 for Drag Nite, an exhilarating celebration of drag as a contemporary art form. On June 9, Kiesha’s Crab Shack in South Ruimveldt will play host to Pride Karaoke, a delightful opportunity for everyone to unleash their inner superstar.
Patrons can also for the pinnacle of the festivities on June 10 where the highly anticipated Pride Parade will be held. Leading revelers through the capital city, starting at the Independence Park, better known as Parade Ground, and culminating at the Square of the Revolution, the Pride Parade promises to be a dazzling spectacle of love, pride, and unity.
Following the parade, the excitement doesn’t stop—the Pride Parade After-Party awaits at Cocktails Hotspot in Kingston, where attendees can dance the night away in a jubilant atmosphere.
Bringing the curtains down on June 11, the Guyana Pride Festival culminates with the first-ever “Taste the Rainbow” Brunch Party. This delectable event promises a delightful fusion of flavors, vibrant ambiance, and the chance to savor the spirit of unity and acceptance.
Director of SASOD, Joel Earl-Simpson has stressed that the Guyana Pride Festival is not merely a celebration, but it is a powerful statement of resilience and the collective determination to create a more inclusive society. By amplifying voices, raising awareness, and fostering understanding. He was also keen to note that the observance paves the way for positive change and a future where every individual is valued and celebrated for who they are.