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Caribbean LGBT Masqueraders Make a Vivid Display at NYC Pride Parade 2018

WATCH VIDEO: NYC Gay Pride Parade revelers weigh in on a Trinidadian judge’s ruling that colonial-era laws banning gay sex are unconstitutional

The streets of lower Manhattan were turned into a beautiful mosaic of Caribbean flags, dazzling costumes and rainbow flags at NYC's pride parade this year.

While the Caribbean is famous for its diverse population and laid-back vibe, the region isn't that accepting of the gay (LGBT) community due to the strong influence of religion and culture. The prevailing attitude is that LGBT relationships should remain out of sight, if not banned completely. But revelers at this year’s pride parade affirmed their sexuality and their Caribbean heritage as they wined to hype soca beats in full carnival costume or waved their country’s flag.

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Caribbean Equality Project's Prideful Masqueraders Showcasing Traditional Indian Wear. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud

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Caribbean Equality Project's Members. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud

Hundreds of marchers came together under the banner of the Caribbean Equality Project, an NYC non-profit founded by Mohamed Amin to provide support, advocacy and asylum assistance for the LGBT community in the Caribbean diaspora. After Mr. Amin and his siblings were victims of a hate crime in 2013 in Queens, he realized LGBT people of Caribbean descent often persecuted by their communities or rejected by their families because of their sexuality, needed a safe space to be—so he created one.

Mohamed Amin from Caribbean Equality Project

Mohamed Q. Amin, a human rights activist and founder of the Caribbean Equality Project.

And because homophobia continues to be an issue in the Caribbean, the organization’s asylum work has become even more vital. “The need is there for queer Caribbeans who don’t have anywhere else to go in New York and who also don’t know how to access the different agencies in New York City that will be a support to them,” said Mr. Amin.

Anoop H Pandohie and Mohamed Q Amin founder Caribbean Equality Project

Anoop H. Pandohie (Trinidadian) and Partner, Mohamed Q. Amin (Guyanese), Founder of Caribbean Equality Project. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud

But the recent historic ruling in Trinidad and Tobago to decriminalize homosexuality may eventually allow for greater acceptance of LGBT people in the Caribbean community. A high court judge ruled on April 12, 2018, that the Caribbean nation’s colonial-era law banning gay sex is unconstitutional, a development that parade goers welcomed.

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Caribbean Equality Project's Prideful Masqueraders. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud

“I think what it does, it sets a precedent for all the other Caribbean countries you know like this is sort of like a step forward to say, ok here’s one country and if we’re all united under Caricom whether legally…or culturally under our history or whatever, we will move forward. So it really provides a sense of hope that we’re pushing the boundaries and just accepting people you know what I’m saying, so I’m living for it. I’m so happy,” said Kadeem Robinson who’s originally from Jamaica.


Caribbean reveler Kadeem Robinson from Jamaica at 2018 Gay Pride parade

The final ruling on whether to remove the colonial-era laws from the books or simply change them is scheduled to happen later in July. But in the meantime, people like Monica Persaud, showed up at the parade with her grandchildren (one just 3 years old) to support her son, Marcus Persaud who works with Caribbean Equality Project.

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Ms. Persaud and her family. Photo Credit: Marcus W. Persaud

Ms. Persaud is well aware of the prohibitions against homosexuality in scriptures and the pressure to reject her child’s sexuality but had this message to share “You never know what that child could become so you need to show them love and focus on God who created them and you need to get that started from young—just show love,” she said.

NOTE: On August 10, 2016, a judge in Belize ruled that a law criminalizing same-sex intimacy is unconstitutional.


Kizzy Cox, a reporter, and co-host of What's The 411 loves to travel. When she's not tracking down news stories, you can find her far away from home learning about new cultures.


Meet Lisette Ffolkes: Millennial Apparel and Jewelry Designer

Designer Lisette Ffolkes details her journey to owning an apparel and jewelry design company, Jam and Rico

In this video interview, millennial apparel and jewelry designer, Lisette Ffolkes, talks with What's The 411 host, Kizzy Cox, about her journey to owning an apparel and jewelry design company, Jam and Rico.

Lisette's jewelry is designed to bring joy, confidence, and beauty to everyone who wears them. With parents from Jamaica and Puerto Rico, Lisette takes inspiration from her Caribbean heritage and culture, most of all, color, print, texture, food, and music. Lisette's first jewelry collection for Jam and Rico delivers on its promise to be fun, light, and energetic.

Although Lisette's mother and aunts wanted her to get a secure job as a teacher or something related to education, Lisette followed her heart and passion to the field of design. Lisette credits internships and business women with her ability to follow her dream. She worked with three women entrepreneurs before creating her own design firm. Lisette's experience in working with these role models, including fashion designer, Tracy Reese, showed her that she could have a successful business. She also learned that there is a way to blend family and work and most of all, to be fearless. 

Lisette recognizes that connections are everything and she spends a good deal of time connecting with people as part of her marketing strategy.

So, Lisette, we wish you continued success.

Damion Crawford: Young, Gifted & Black


The Honorable Damion Crawford, Jamaica's Minister of State, Ministry of Tourism & Entertainment; spoke to What's The 411TV's Andrew Rosario about the responsibilities of his position, at the Young Gifted & Black Awards in NYC.

Additionally, Minister Crawford gave a great case for why Jamaica is a top destination in the Caribbean.

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