Revellers from Cayman’s LGBTQ+ community are set to take to the streets on 31 July for a three-day weekend during the islands’ inaugural gay pride parade.
The announcement of the street procession, which is set to take place in George Town, comes at a time when LGBTQ+ issues remain a divisive topic throughout Cayman.
Cayman LGBTQ Foundation founder and president Noel Cayasso-Smith is encouraging voters to consider these topics when they head to the polls on 14 April and to question a candidate’s stance on rights for LGBTQ+ persons when they vote. His call follows a controversial debate which took place in the Legislative Assembly last July over domestic partnership legislation.
On 23 and 24 Feb., the UK’s highest court, the Privy Council, heard the appeal case of same-sex couple Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden Bush who are challenging Cayman’s Marriage Law, which restricts marriage to a union between a man and a woman. Despite the timing of the announcement, organisers of the parade said it is not a political or public statement.
“This parade will be no different from other parades such as Batabano, CayMas or Pirates Week,” said Cayasso-Smith. “Every other country has one, so why can’t we?”
He said the parade is expected to follow the route of the annual Pirates Week parade and will begin on South Church Street and then end by the George Town Post office, followed by a street dance along Cardinal Avenue.
Cayasso-Smith said the gay pride parade was born out of necessity, after they were turned away from entering their own float in last year’s Batabano parade, which was eventually cancelled due to COVID-19 suppression restrictions.
“Previously, we approached Batabano and asked to enter our own float, but the organisers told us no because they feared it would be making a political statement,” said Cayasso-Smith. “We were told if we wanted to be in the parade, we should go start our own, so that’s what we did.
“Although this is a gay pride parade, it’s open to the entire community, straight, gay, bi, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We have always opened our events to people outside of the LGBTQ Foundation, all we ask is that when you come, you treat everyone with respect.”
Cayasso-Smith said he anticipates there will be opposition to the parade and has requested that police be present during the events.