Congratulations to the LGBTQ community on the Cayman Islands. The self-governing, British overseas territory, which lies between Cuba and Jamaica in the Caribbean, organized its first Pride Parade on Saturday.
An estimated 600 people took part in the event, which was organized by the Cayman LGBTQ Foundation. Among those attending were Caymanian Gov. Martyn Roper and Premier Wayne Panton.
The parade was preceded by a pre-party on Friday night and then an after-party at the Tillies, Palm Heights hotel.
Noel Cayasso-Smith, the founder and President of the Cayman LGBTQ Foundation, told the Washington Blade, “This is the first time in history the Cayman Islands has ever been able to put on a Pride. I’m excited because we had no protesters. We had no negativity throughout the entire parade.”
He said he had been partly inspired by the pandemic travel restrictions.
“Pride month came in and you know for every year I got really tired of seeing our Cayman people leaving to go to Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Canada to enjoy themselves for Pride. We thought it would be great to have our Pride here since we’re in our own little bubble.”
Authorities insisted those taking part in the parade were vaccinated against Covid-19, and spectators had to remain six feet from those marching.
Same-sex sexual activity was decriminalized in the Cayman Islands in 2001. In recent years, it has wrangled over recognizing same-sex unions, enacting a civil partnership law only last September.
Attitudes remain conservative on the island. Alcohol was not allowed on the Pride Parade and the LGBTQ Foundation “discouraged” public displays of affections “in order to maintain a respectful event.”
Governor Martyn Roper had faced some backlash over his attendance at the parade. However, he said afterward, “This first Pride Parade represents another important milestone. I hope over time these advances will help our community to become more accepting of others and to recognize that no one needs to feel threatened … It was respectful to all in our community and a historic moment for the Cayman Islands.”
Cayasso-Smith told GayCities, “It’s was truly a historic moment not only for the Cayman Islands but for the LGBTQ community. For years, many have been fighting for the right to be who we are in society and demanding equality. I am pleased that the Cayman LGBTQ Foundation was able to host such an important event in the Cayman Islands. But in truth in any fight, it takes more than one foundation or person to achieve any goals.”
He said that the date for next year’s event has already been set: Saturday, July 30, 2022.