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In The Know is proud to celebrate Pride Month. During this month, our team will highlight a wide range of LGBTQIA+ owned brands. We encourage you to support today and always.
The month of June marks two celebratory occasions for two largely underrepresented groups: there’s Caribbean American Heritage Month and Pride Month. While both initiatives are often celebrated separately, many fail to acknowledge that they actually intersect, with many people sharing both the queer and Caribbean experience.
It’s no secret that the Caribbean’s queer population is often ignored and overlooked. In fact, the Caribbean is historically known for touting anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric.
Several musicians and political leaders have boldly declared that same-gender love is illegal in their respective islands. From Barbados to Jamaica, at least nine Caribbean nations have been recorded to have criminalized homosexuality, specifically, for example.
Some progress is slowly being made, however, with Trinidad & Tobago decriminalizing consensual gay sex in 2018. Prior to this decision, this was punishable with up to 25 years in prison, according to New Now Next. Since then, several Caribbean public figures have publicly voiced their support for the Caribbean’s underappreciated LGBTQIA+ community and, hence, more organizations have pushed forward to provide more support and resources to these communities that many of them consider “home.”
With this in mind, we’ve compiled a list of six LGBTQIA+ organizations that you should follow to both support and uplift the queer population across the Caribbean now and beyond:
Mohamed Q. Amin, a Guyanese pioneering Indo-Caribbean queer and Muslim human rights activist, founded The Caribbean Equality Project (CEP) in 2015 in response to anti-LGBTQIA+ hate in Richmond Hill, Queens, New York.
CEP is a community-based organization that, according to the non-profit, “empowers, advocates for, and represents Black and Brown, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender non-conforming and queer Caribbean immigrants in New York City.” The organization [fulfills] its mission through public education, community organizing, civic engagement, storytelling and cultural and social programming.
While Pride Month has been a widespread celebration of love and freedom in the United States and Europe for decades, it’s only recently become a widely celebrated event in a few Caribbean countries in recent years.
Twin islands Trinidad & Tobago, for example, celebrated its first Pride in 2018 after years of independent Pride events, thanks to the hard work of one determined committee called Pride Trinidad & Tobago. The then-newly-formed organization hosted its very first Pride parade in July 2018 and, that following year officially became a non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of “bringing communities together to celebrate the lives of LGBT Trinbagonians.”
Contrary to popular belief, Pride celebrations in Jamaica have been taking place as far back as 2006. However, in 2015, the first visible and public Jamaica Pride celebrations were held during the country’s “Emancipendence” week. Since then, the Jamaican LGBTQIA+ movement has heavily centered around the citizenship and humanity of queer people in the Caribbean country.
Today, J-FLAG, Jamaica’s human rights and social justice organization, holds even more weight than it did when it initially launched in 1998. The organization “advocates for the rights, livelihood and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Jamaica” and aims to build a society that “respects and protects the rights of everyone.”
St. Lucia’s small LGBTQIA+ advocacy group, 758Pride, was created in 2018 and hosted a series of public advocacy and community-building events that aim to end the stigmatization of queer people on the small Caribbean island.
Through this work and movement, St. Lucia’s LGBTQIA+ community is led to feeling more empowered and appreciated for its diversity and not in spite of it. In 2019, the 758Pride committee launched its first-ever official LGBTQIA+ Pride celebration.
5. SASOD Guyana
SASOD Guyana was founded in June 2003 and has made quite a mark since its inception. The local organization has won awards for leading change as well as education and serving communities to end discrimination based on sexuality and gender identity in Guyana and the wider Caribbean.
This vocal non-profit challenges injustices and engages the State to change laws and policies that discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people and further holds the state accountable for its human rights obligations to queer people. According to Caribbean Prides, SASOD Guyana functions on three programs, which it calls the “3H agenda”: human rights, homophobia(s) education and human services programs.
Pride Barbados is a largely celebrated collaborative initiative that consists of a committee made up of LGBTQIA+ civil society leaders and event coordinators. The organization also made an acronym for Pride: People Respecting Individuality, Diversity & Equality.
Pride Barbados focuses on providing diverse spaces and events throughout June “so that the multidimensional LGBTQIA+ persons in Barbados could participate.” According to the organization, intersectionality lies at its core, further propelling its aim to continue creating space for “the most vulnerable members of our community.”
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