Jamaica: First public gay pride event a symbol of change, 'It felt liberating'

Early August is a special time for Jamaicans. The Emancipendence holidays celebrate both the end of slavery in 1838 and the country’s break away from British colonial rule in 1962. But this year has seen a very different kind of symbolic even, one that for LGBT campaigners in the country marks an equally important moment in the future development of this young nation.

It started not with a proclamation or a flag being hoisted up and down a pole but with a flash mob, an art day and a chance for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jamaicans to show things are changing for the better. PRIDE JA was the first public gay pride celebration in the English-speaking Caribbean, after a similar event had to be canceled due to security concerns in the Bahamas last year. 

For those involved in the week’s activities – organised by JFLAG, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays – it was a chance to be proud and visible. “It felt liberating”, said Nicki who attended the arts performance. “It was safe with no fear. In public, if you express yourself in a particular way or use certain mannerisms you have to be on your guard but this really felt like it was ours.”  Read More