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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.

4 Indian women prideful masqueraders photo credit Marcus W Persaud 711x400

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.

Ms Persaaud and family supporting her son Marcus Photo Credit Marcus Persaud 711x400

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.

 

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Caribbean Cook-up: A Japanese pannist, Asami Nagakiya, dies in Trinidad during Carnival and Raymond Tim Kee, the Mayor of Port of Spain resigns his office because of his insensitive comment. Mayor Kee stated that the costumes, an international symbol of the festival, were to blame for a Japanese tourist's murder — along with "vulgarity and lewdness" displayed by women during Carnival.

Asami Nagakiya Japanese tourist found murdered during Carnival in Trinidad Andrea De Silva ReutersJapanese tourist and pannist, Asami Nagakiya, found murdered in Trinidad during carnival. Photo Credit: Andrea De Silva/Reuters

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Trinidadian Soca Artist Fay Ann Lyons Stands Up for Power Soca

VIDEO DISCUSSION: Power Soca and Trinidadian cultural integrity

Carnival season is quickly coming upon us! Trinidad's carnival is only 2 weeks and 5 days (but who's counting??) And masqueraders everywhere can't wait to jump and wave their way down the road and across the stage...but some are wondering where is the power Soca they're supposed to be wining to? Because this year's power Soca songs haven't been strong. Fay Ann Lyons, famous Trinidadian soca artist and 3-time winner of the carnival road march title (the only woman to have ever done so) called out those people who said that basically power soca was on its way out. Elaborating on her comments in an interview with looptt, Lyons said:

"my next point was that Iwer and Superblue are known for singing power Soca and you telling them that dead and don't bring no power and you telling younger artistes don't do power cause we are not playing it so you already blocking people cause you are telling them there is no market for it. I turned to the crowd and said fight for your artistes, fight for your music and your culture. After I said what I said, I said anybody who disagree that you should not support the art form could kiss my black ass."

FAY ANN is making a great point because, at the end of the day, groovy soca is great it's nice music to groove to: slow wine and chip but if you're about to cross that stage and get wassy (Trini slang for turn up and get wild) you want a power Soca song to get you there! And if you want to promote cultural unity, you need all the types of Soca music--you can't put down one and uplift the other.

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