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Pride Month

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride Month (LGBTQ Pride Month) is currently celebrated in the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, USA. Presently, many countries have opted to do the same and celebrate this community based on the impact they’ve had on history locally, nationally and internationally. During this month countries around the world hold pride parades, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia, concerts as well as memorials for the members of this community who have been lost to hate crimes or HIV/AIDS.

People supporting the LGBT community during a protest. Aruba, Aug 21, 2016. Photo Anuar Habibe.

Aruba’s LGBTQ rights
In April 2015, Aruba was obliged to recognize same-sex marriages, which were registered in the Netherlands and its special municipalities (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) as valid. On the 8th of September 2016 the Aruban parliament ruled to recognize same-sex civil unions. Not same-sex marriages, but same-sex civil unions, which granted is a step in the right direction, but there is a long way to go before descrimination is ruled out and same-sex partners have equal rights when it comes to e.g. adoption.

Coming Out
In celebration of Pride Month I asked a couple of members of the LGBTQ community to share their opinions about this topic. As Charlie put it, “Coming out is detrimental to my mental and physical health”, therefore their names have been changed to protect their identities.

Desiree de Sousa- Croes (an openly-gay parliamentarian who fought for the LGBT rights in Aruba) taking a selfie during a protest. Aruba, Aug 21, 2016. Photo Anuar Habibe.

1. What do you think of Aruba’s LGBTQ community?

Charlie: “There’s a male gay community. Jimmy’s Place is mostly for gay men. There’s nothing beyond nightclubs and bars for people who don’t just want to hook up. And even then the gay clubs are overrun with straight people so there’s a lack of safe spaces. You could easly hit on a person who is straight and they would get offended , because you hit on them in a gay club. You’re in my safe space and you’re offended I came on to you?”

Esmond: “I personally think that in Aruba our LGBTQ community is not well respected. Yet, I think if we all just gave each other the space needed we will see how fantastic this island could become. Everyone free to be happy and loved.”

2. What do you think about Aruba’s LGBTQ rights?

Charlie: “What rights? During the civil union debate they had to decide if we were even human enough to be deserving of the right to have a civil union and not even a marriage in Aruba.”

Esmond: “Are there rights for the LGBTQ community?”

3. What would you like to see in Aruba in regards to the LGBTQ community?

Charlie: “It would be nice for Aruba to have a Pride parade. It’s not only about fun; it’s a sense of community. People ask me why do I need Pride; it’s because I can’t get married in Aruba, where I live. The original Pride was a resistance movement, because it was a bunch of people who were hated on. It would be nice to go to work and be out and not have to deal with the stares and the talks, because it’s something normal. I’m just a normal human being. Being gay is just one aspect of who I am. It doesn’t define who I am.”

Esmond: “I would like to see Aruba have equality on all fronts; where one has the same rights no matter your gender, sexuality, color, or age. We all deserve to be loved.”

A Pride Parade in Aruba would mean celebrating a sense of community, love, the ability to be out, and a diversity of people. I hope next year we will be out on the streets celebrating a thriving LGBTQ community on the island, which could consist of someone from your family, your next-door neighbor and perhaps even yourself. All in all, Love is Love; Happy Pride month to all!

 

References:
1. http://www.aruba.com/our-island/aruba-votes-lgbt-civil-union-first-island-the-caribbean
2. https://www.loc.gov/lgbt-pride-month/about/

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