Beaming with Pride: Public invited to annual LGBTQ parade, festival in Hilo

“Love Activates” is the theme for Saturday’s Hawaii Island LGBTQ Pride Parade and Festival in Hilo.

The parade and festival are free and everyone is welcome.

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The Pride parade kicks off the day’s events at 11 a.m. starting on Ponahawai Street to Kilauea Avenue, onto Keawe Street to Waianuenue Avenue, then to Kamehameha Avenue and ends at Mooheau Park.

The grand marshal for this year’s parade is Joel Barraquiel Tan, an artist, innovator and nonprofit leader. Barraquiel Tan has dedicated his life’s work to promoting social justice, cultural equity and increasing access to marginalized communities. Most recently, he served as Kalanihonua Retreat Center’s executive director. He also is the co-founder of Los Angeles’ Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team Health Centers.

Barraquiel Tan is a published author and poet and known as Sister Baba Ganesh of the San Francisco Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

The Pride festival takes place from noon-4 p.m. at the Mooheau Bandstand. The four hours of entertainment includes the cover band Ro Ling Tones and Puna Men’s Chorus. There will be food and merchandise vendors, keiki play and games, including a bounce house. The festival culminates with a drag show extravaganza hosted by Hilo’s own Ms. Bee Tish and featuring Maui drag queen Boy Valentine and many more.

“2018 has proven to be a year when people’s hearts have driven them to action,” said Greg Lupton, vice president of Hawaii Island LGBTQ Pride. “The Me Too and Time’s Up movements against sexual assault were joined this last year by the Never Again movement formed by students after the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida.

“More recently, love has moved our country to stand up against the separation of parents from children at our border. And close to home, the recent eruption in Leilani Estates has mobilized the aloha of Hawaii Island through the relief efforts of government and private agencies, but perhaps most focused in community-based assistance like that provided by Ho‘ohonua o Puna and the World Central Kitchen, both in Pahoa.

“As the LGBTQ community, we have experienced firsthand the love of our families, friends and allies who join us in making Hawaii a welcoming place for all.”

In addition to the parade and festival, Pink presents the official Pride after-party from 4-7 p.m. Saturday at the Hilo Town Tavern. There is a $10 cover; 21 and older.

In conjunction with the Pride events is the Rainbow After Dark “Meet the Queens” show at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Grand Naniloa Hotel Crown Room, featuring female impersonators Felicity Layne, Janelle Neiman and Hazel Nuttz.

There will be special appearances by Amy Horst, Erin Smith, Mikala Thomas, Jasmine Serrano, Nichole Monette, Phill Russell and Norman Arancon. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and a cash bar opens at 6. The show is for ages 21 and older. General admission is $20 or $30 VIP (booth and table seating), $5 more at the door.

In observance of the Pride events, the Palace Theater will be screening the film “Tom of Finland” at 7 p.m. July 6, 8-10 and 2:30 p.m. July 8.

The first gay pride event took place in Los Angeles in June 1970, to mark the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. The earliest pride events were venues for political statements, public outrageousness, coming out and community celebration.

“We have followed in this same tradition on Hawaii Island,” Lupton said.

Hawaii Island LGBTQ Pride is “an annual gathering that celebrates the beautiful, diverse community of our island,” Lupton said. “This year we celebrate in the context of the recent banning of ‘conversion therapy’ here in Hawaii, and the great steps forward in the treatment of LGBTQ young people.

“More locally, Target this year has its first LGBTQ merchandise at its Hilo store. But in many states across the country many hard-won rights are being challenged and rolled back. Family planning rights, adoption rights and transgender equality are still getting pushback in legislatures and the courts.

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“Also this year, we have added LGBTQ to our name as a way to acknowledge the diversity within our own tribe. It is also an acknowledgment of our own history. There was a time when there was the G Rights Movement. Over decades, we have listened to and embraced the various different voices and experiences in our own community.”

For more information, contact Lupton at 323-788-7626 or sisterbuffy@aol.com, or visit Hawaii Island LGBTQ Pride on Facebook or www.hawaiiislandlgbtqpride.org.