By Devina Samaroo
In a country where buggery remains illegal and gay rights are frowned upon by many, LGBTQ persons and supporters wore their rainbows proudly as they marched through city streets at Guyana’s inaugural Pride Parade on Saturday.
Pride Parades have different purposes globally but for Guyana, it was just meant to be a platform for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and queer individuals to express themselves.
And that they did in grand style. The revelers, who were decked in ostentatious costumes and some in heels, danced to the rhythms of soca music as they moved from Parade Ground through Church Street and onto the Square of the Revolution in the capital city.
Member of Parliament (MP) Priya Manickchand was there to show her personal support. She said: “Priya Manickchand supports the decriminalisation of personal sexual relations” but she was quick to condemn any form of rape by any individual.
Manickchand noted that the time is now to have serious widespread conversations with the aim of developing solutions to issues affecting the LGBTQ community and she urged the Government to pilot such discussions.
The parade was organised by the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), the Guyana Rainbow Foundation (GuyBo) and Trans United.
Director of SASOD, Joel Simpson hailed the initiative a major success and promised that next year’s parade will be better.
While the parade was all smiles and laughter for the community, Simpson said it sends a strong message to legislators and Government officials.
“We think three years into Government, it’s time that we have more than that [talks],” he stated, adding that “we want to see action and we want action now.”
The parade concluded by nightfall without incident but many curious onlookers lined the streets to steal a glance of the moving party, and some of them, had unpleasant things to say about the LGBTQ community.
Anil Persaud, SASOD’s Homophobia(s) Education Coordinator, urged the naysayers to ‘just let people be’.
His sentiments were echoed by many of the community’s members and supporters.
Jade Mitchell expressed: “everybody deserves rights, no matter who they are, no matter their sexual preference.”
Kevon Carter was very pumped about the celebratory event and he urged Guyanese to practice love instead of hate.
In addition to the rainbow flag, the Golden Arrowhead was a key symbol at the parade as a gentle reminder that Guyanese are supposed to live as One People, One Nation and with One Destiny.