The Garden Isle will be filled with pride this weekend.
Kauai’s first gay pride parade will be held tomorrow in Lihue on Rice Street followed by a festival on the lawn of the Historic County Building. Organizers say the time has come for Kauai to celebrate diversity and they hope that families, friends, and neighbors will attend.
“Obviously pride emphasizes the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community, but this event is for everyone and all of Kauai is invited,” says Matthew Houck, a prevention educator at YWCA of Kauai and one of the event’s organizers. “It’s especially important that young people know that it’s OK to celebrate themselves as who they are and that they belong here.”
Kauai’s small, isolated rural communities makes it challenging for locals to find LGBTQ resources and support. Organizers hope the event will create a safe space. “LGBTQ visibility and representation are taking place across the country and it’s time for it to happen here on Kauai,” he says.
Organizers of Kauai's pride parade accept the Mayor's Proclamation declaring June LGBTQ Pride Month on Kauai. Back row (left to right): Councilman Luke Evslin, Rhonda Moore, Councilman Arryl Kaneshiro, Councilman Mason Chock. Middle row (left to right): Steven Dick, Chelsea Crapser, Mayor Derek Kawakami, Councilman Kipukai Kualii. Front row (left to right): Stefani Iwami, Ranae Hamilton-Cambeilh, and Matthew Houck.
The event coincides with Kauai’s first gay prom this year sponsored by Kauai High School and the 50th anniversary this month of the Stonewall riots in New York City to protest police raids on the gay community. “Although people look at pride as a fun celebration, we should remember that it comes from a place of struggle and hardship to be included in the community,” says Houck.
Employees from YWCA of Kauai, Malama Pono Health Services, LAMBDA Aloha, and other community groups have worked to get sponsorship from local businesses and the Kauai County. Mayor Derek Kawakami is expected to attend the festival and Councilman Kipukai Kualii will serve as the parade’s grand marshal.
The festival will feature an art installation about Stonewall and other historic national and local LGBTQ events. Participants can write messages to commemorate LGBTQ loved ones who have died.
Learn more at the Kauai Festivals website.