A jubilant crowd took to its feet last night to welcome the country’s first Pride event today.
A panel of Caribbean activists discussed the history of LBGT rights in their countries and their experiences of organising similar parades in their homelands.
Nastassia Rambarran, from Guyana, told the audience at the Hamilton Princess: “You’re trailblazing, in a way. We’re really excited to come.”
Ro-Ann Mohommed, from Barbados, dismissed claims that Pride events were an “imported” phenomenon.
The organiser of Barbados’s LGBTQI Pride told the audience of about 200: “Sexuality is not the import — homophobia is.”
The panellists also discussed the role black and other ethnic people played in the Pride movement.
Zakiya Johnson Lord, deputy chairwoman of gay rights charity OutBermuda, asked the speakers for their views on the multicoloured rainbow for the Bermuda Pride flag, which includes black and brown.
Jaevion Nelson, from Jamaica, said a key aspect of Pride was to “challenge notions that our community has to look one particular way”.
Suelle Anglin, who runs Pride Jamaica, said the emphasis on inclusion helped counter the commercialisation of Pride events.
She added: “We are not just here partying.”
And Rudolph Hanamji, the chairman of Pride Trinidad & Tobago, praised the thought and effort that Bermuda had put into the organisation of the parade and that it had “given us that moment of pause”.
All four guest speakers were from countries that have already held Pride parades.
Linda Bogle Mienzer, a Bermudian activist, told the panel there had been a “pushback from the black community — they can’t move past how they feel that racism has been ignored by the sector of our community that has embraced Pride”.
Mark Anderson, another activist who performs as drag artist Sybil Barrington, said Pride should include respect for one another, including the gay community and wider society.
He added: “We have to respect each other’s opinion and come together to deal with this.”
The audience included many younger people.
A 16-year-old girl, who identified herself as Eliza, asked the international panellists how their countries “empowered queer youth”. Ms Anglin said that activists were prohibited by law from offering support to people under 18 in Jamaica. She added: “We try to have partners in different agencies that might have these interactions and try to build their capacity.” An 18-year-old female Bermuda College student, who said she was bisexual, told the panel: “I have not been in a female relationship — people always try to use that against me.”
Ms Mohammed told her: “You do not owe anything to anybody and you do not owe them an explanation about your sexuality.”
Renée Webb, a former Progressive Labour Party MP and minister, asked the panel how trailblazers in human rights had been honoured in their countries.
Ms Webb, who led an unsuccessful campaign to have protection on the grounds of sexual orientation added to the Human Rights Act in 2006, said: “We have a lot of people who fought to bring this day about.”
Ms Anglin said: “The first thing to do is document our history.”