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First annual Pride Parade and Festival set for June 22

There will be pride displayed in Lihue from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday as Kauai will host its first Kauai Pride Parade and Festival.

The parade and festival are in coordination with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ) National Pride Month during the month of June.

The parade will begin at Vidinha Stadium, with floats and groups marching down Rice Street in Lihue. It will culminate on the lawn of the Historic County Building with a day of activities, including speakers, entertainment, information booths and food vendors.

County Councilmember Kipukai Kuali‘i said the event will not only raise public awareness but will promote and celebrate peace, acceptance and unity on the island.

“There have been Kauai pride events in the past, but never to the capacity of closing down Rice street and hosting the event in city center,” Kauai Pride Parade Committee organizer Matthew Houck said. “So we’re really excited to invite the entire community and make this event for everybody.”

Houck said the committee of organizers is pleased to have Kuali‘i as a grand marshal.

“I’m so looking forward to having the honor of serving as Kauai Pride Parade 2019’s first-ever grand marshal,” Kuali‘i said in a social media post.

Kuali‘i became the first “out and proud” councilmember of any county council in the state of Hawaii when he was inaugurated in April 2011.

The Kauai Pride Parade Committee on their public gofundme account has raised $2,315 toward their goal of $8,000 since starting the account in November 2018.

There are also parade sponsors including YWCA of Kauai, Macy’s, Kauai Juice Co., La Spezia restaurant, Hula’s Bar and Lei Stand and Fish Eye Kauai.

“The projected budget for parade and event logistics is $15,000, with costs ranging from public safety measures including police and security assistance, permitting and equipment (stage, tents, etc.), as well as PR efforts such as PSAs and media placements,” the committee said on their website.

“We are a committee of nonprofit partners, including the YWCA of Kauai, LAMBDA Aloha, Malama Pono Health Services, PFLAG Kauai and community members.”

Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami was at last Wednesday’s Kauai County Council meeting to give a proclamation announcing the annual parade and festival.

“In 2013 I was a member of the Hawaii state House of Representatives and we were called into special session to deliberate and take action on what was known as SB1,” Kawakami said.

“We were called into special session by the then Governor (Neil) Abercrombie. We went in on October 28, they had indicated that it would be a five-day special session, enough to go through the public hearing, the committee, first second and final reading.”

Kawakami said the session ended up lasting until Nov. 12, 2013, and that 5,184 people testified on the bill.

“The House made a commitment to make sure that we gave everybody an equal opportunity to testify on what is now known as the Marriage Equality Act,” Kawakami said

“It’s something that I’m very proud to have been a part of in Hawaii’s history.”

Kawakami said the special session was one of the most divisive he has ever seen during his time in politics, and at one point the sergeant at-arms had to split up opposing factions and forced to erect a barricade between the two groups, something he never imagined he would see in modern Hawaii history.

“It had broken my heart to see Hawaii split in a way that I had never imagined the melting pot of Hawaii, a place that is supposed to exemplify diversity, be so split,” Kawakami said, adding that the state House of Representatives was able to pass the bill after much debate on both sides.

“It brings me great pleasure as mayor to see that we are going to be recognizing pride month for the very first time on Kauai,” he said.

About 25 parade entrants are expected.

“We’re passionate about it and pulling it off,” Houck said.

He said the committee has already learned a lot from the inaugural organization of the event, something that will serve them well in the future.

“It’s been a learning curve for sure, but it’s really exciting,” he said.

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Ryan Collins, county reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or rcollins@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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