Barbados’ capital Bridgetown hosted a Barbados Pride parade on Sunday 22 July amidst controversies and backlash.
Despite several attempts throughout the years, the Caribbean country never managed to make Pride parades a regular, annual celebration.
2017 Pride celebrations included a walk for LGBT Human Rights and an LGBT Film Festival. The event, which doesn’t appear to be related to this July’s march, will return in November with a Pride parade. That is when Barbados also celebrates its independence day.
In the meantime, LGBTI activist Ro-Ann Mohammed decided to organize Barbados’ first parade celebrating Pride month this July.
‘Last November, local activists Stevia Arthur and Alexa Hoffmann partnered with international activist Maurice Tomlinson to host Barbados’ first local set of Pride events. They held a walk of about 5 persons and we wanted to clarify that ours was a parade,’ explained Mohammed.
‘We admire the strength and bravery in especially Alexa’s advocacy as a trailblazing trans woman. The distinction is that this was our first time celebrating Pride Month and hosting a parade for the community.’
One Barbados Pride is not enough
Together with Mikey Rap, Alfie Litcot Joanne Jordan, Rinse Out Weekend Barbados and Dadrina Emmanuel, Mohammed brought the LGBTI party to the streets of Bridgetown. The meeting point was, of course, Rihanna Drive.
‘The bigotry and venom that started pouring in during the days leading up to the parade left me so unbelievably scared,’ said Mohammed.
She also said: ‘People were messaging me on the night before the parade to ask if we had an ambulance escorting us in case someone was attacked. I put on a brave face on Sunday and showed up to Rihanna Drive thinking that someone might shoot into the crowd, hoping that nobody would die.’
Luckily, the parade went on peacefully through the streets of Bridgetown, ending at the Bay Street Esplanade. The march – a fun day filled with music, dance, and fabulous outfits – helped increase LGBTI visibility in the Caribbean country.
Barbados has still a long way to go
Barbados’ law still punishes homosexual acts with a life sentence. Despite being very rarely enforced, it’s a threat for the LGBTI community and forces many to stay in the closet. Consequently, the country in the Lesser Antilles does not recognize same-sex couples.
Earlier this year, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) urged several countries under its jurisdiction to recognize same-sex couples. The ruling resulted in Costa Rica’s legalizing same-sex marriage in January 2018.
This might have paved the way for Barbados. The country is, in fact, one of the 20 Caribbean, Central and Southern American signatories of the American Convention on Human Rights for which IACHR is responsible.
The country also elected their first female and pro-LGBTI Prime Minister Mia Mottley in May, in a historic move that might lead to a more effective LGBTI equality in the nearest future.
See the pictures of Barbados Pride below:
All pictures: Courtesy of Ro-Ann Mohammed