LGBTQ+ activist Billie Bryan of Colours Caribbean said Cayman’s inaugural gay pride parade was a “Pride in name only”, which left her disappointed.
Bryan, who is a transwoman, has been a vocal advocate for Cayman’s LGBTQ+ community since 2015. In an interview with the Cayman Compass, Bryan said while the turnout for the parade was impressive, the event itself failed to live up to its true purpose.
Saturday’s street parade was attended by some 600 participants. It was led of by Governor Martyn Roper, alongside Premier Wayne Panton and MP Barbara Conolly who represented the Opposition. It was met with hundreds of supporters who lined the sides of West Bay Road to cheer the procession on.
Cayman LGBTQ Foundation, which organised the event, imposed several rules which included government required social distancing and non-interaction with members of the public, as well as a foundation-imposed ban on public displays of affection.
Prior to the parade, Cayman LGBTQ Foundation founder and president Noel Cayasso-Smith told the Cayman Compass the ban on public displays of affection was in place to ensure the event maintained an air of decency and respectability. Bryan said the rules only served to hinder the movement and “entirely defeats the purpose of Pride,” according to her statement.
“[The ban] likens our genuine and valid displays of affection towards our romantic partners to vile acts such as “public defecation and urination,” to quote the words of Cayman LGBTQ Foundation itself,” said Bryan.
She added, “Pride began as a protest. And it continues as a protest. It was and still is meant to call attention to the many issues that our community struggles with on a daily basis and the neglect and oppression, be it intentional or unintentional, that we’re regularly subjected to.
“Yes, it’s also a celebration and is intended to be a bombastic display in support of our people but that’s still meant to be in utter defiance of our ongoing marginalisation.”
Bryan told the Compass the significance of the parade was further diminished by a noticeable absence of prominent members of Cayman’s LGBTQ+ community.
The day before the parade, Chantelle Day, an activist whose case for marriage equality is currently before the Privy Council, took to social media to reveal that she and her partner Vickie Bodden Bush had been removed from the parade without prior warning.
“Unfortunately, Vickie and I found out last night at the pre-parade event that we were removed from the parade participants list for querying some of the rules,” wrote Day.
“Specifically we queried why public displays of affection (handholding/hugging) were classified as public indecency.”
Day said no explanation was provided to them for their removal.
“Dr. Leonardo Raznovich, who pretty much served as a catalyst and a trailblazer for modern discussion of LGBTQ rights, specifically marriage, was also removed from the list,” said Bryan. “There was no public mention of Mr Raznovich, nor Chantelle or Vickie.”
The Cayman Compass reached out to Cayasso-Smith seeking a comment on Bryan’s statements, he declined to comment.