By Christopher Tobutt
Everyone was dressed in beautiful rainbow colours at Seven Mile Beach, all ready for Cayman’s very first Pride parade. Several hundred were all set to make their way down to Palm Heights Hotel, where there would be more celebrations and speeches. His Excellency the Governor Martyn Roper, Premier, Hon Wayne Panton, and George Town South Representative Barbara Connolly were all present, walking with the parade.
“I think this is a historic occasion – it’s the first time we’ve had a Cayman Pride Parade and I think it’s a real step forward for Cayman and for the LGBTQ-plus community,” Mr. Roper observed. “I know it’s a sensitive and difficult topic but for me this is just about accepting others; accepting difference. It’s about tolerance, and I just hope people come out and we show that we are very accepting as a community. So I hope it will be a lovely day.”
Hon. Wayne Panton said: “I am very happy to be here this afternoon to support the Cayman LGBTQ community for the Pride March. One of my focusses is about social justice, it is about making sure that everybody in this country, everybody in our society, is valued and respected and treated with dignity. So I am happy to be here with this community and to walk with them and celebrate that changes that have occurred in Cayman, in particular the creation of the Civil Partnership regime earlier this year. I am really happy they have something to celebrate - the greater degree of equality across Caymanian society. This is not the end of it. There are a lot of issues that need to be worked on but this is one that we can celebrate and be happy about.”
Barbara Connolly, Representative for George Town South remarked, “I am so happy to be here today to celebrate this historic occasion, the very first Cayman Pride Parade. We as a country need to understand that we have to support diversity, equity and inclusion into our country, into our society and into our community and today we are celebrating that Cayman.”
Pride Parade participant Amy Kilfillen declared, “I am proud to be part of Cayman’s first Pride Parade. It is so important for people to feel safe and accepted in their own communities and we’re just proud to be a part of it.”
Danielle Coleman, Director of Hazard Management in Cayman, said of the event: “ It’s just fantastic to see Cayman Pride happening in Cayman. Its been a long time coming and I think discrimination has been a real thing for many year and I think it’s time we recognized that ‘love is love,’ and everyone deserves to love those who they choose to love.”
Christina Bodden, Head of Diversity and Inclusion for the Maples Group described the occasion as “a very meaningful day for the Cayman Islands.”
“ This is a fantastic step towards diversity and inclusion in these islands. It’s been long in coming and a lot of us have lost people over the years, given the stigma around LGBTQ lifestyles here, and I think that it’s time to shatter that, and I think that today is a momentous occasion in the Cayman Islands and I am proud to be here,” she stated.
Giving his assessment of the turnout and participation, a very pleased Noel Cayasso-Smith, founder and president of the Cayman LGBTQ Foundation called it “a history-making day”.
“I’d just like to thank everybody for coming out. It’s been a great turnout. It’s the first Pride parade in the Cayman Islands supported by the Government – thanks again to everyone. It’s a history-making day.”