LIHU‘E — From top to bottom, Kaua‘i knows how to slay.
Community members of all ages and backgrounds lined Rice Street on Saturday morning for Kaua‘i’s fifth annual Pride Parade and Festival, a celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month and the island’s queer community.
All along the road, onlookers carried rainbow everything — balloons, hats, shirts, banners, and of course, flags — cheering on the 30 colorful floats as they traveled from Vidinha Stadium to the Historic County Building lawn.
“The feeling of love and support that we’re always looking for within ourselves — to see it visibly in a setting where everyone is there to show that love and support is the best feeling in the world,” said Matthew Houck, YWCA lead prevention educator and a lead organizer of the event.
Starting in 2019 by the Kaua‘i Pride Parade Committee, Kaua‘i Pride has seen several changes in its short history. Originally an in-person parade and festival, organizers were forced to take the 2020 event virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, the organizers created a quarantine-compliant, in-person event by allowing groups to drive by stationary floats on Rice Street. The event finally returned to its original format in 2022, although Houck noted that high COVID-19 illness rates at the time likely impacted turnout.
There was no shortage of attendees this year however, as friends and families walked up Rice Street after the parade to fill the Historic County Building lawn, ready for the festival to begin.
One festivalgoer, Terry, 71, was delighted to see how many families came to celebrate the island’s LGBTQ+ community.
“It’s great to see people bringing their kids and younger people to see that they’re people, and it’s normal,” he said. “It’s a festival — people dress up, it’s fun, and everybody’s got smiles on their faces. It’s not a threatening or a scary situation. It’s fun.”
On the lawn, vendors sold handmade and upcycled clothing, bags, jewelry, crystals and rainbow flags to patrons, while several community resource groups provided opportunities for physical and mental health services.
Attendees were also treated to a series of performances, including mele sang by 13-year-old musician Kamaha‘o Haumea-Thronas and an acrobatics performance. Drag queen troupe Brunch Babes closed the show by bringing in crowd members to join in a rendition of one of the most iconic LGBTQ+ anthems — ABBA’s “Dancing Queen.”
Cyenna Summers, a member of Brunch Babes, told The Garden Island that queer-positive public events like these aren’t just for LGBTQ+ Kauaians — they also help dispel stigmas and misconceptions.
“I think it’s important to bring awareness to the people who don’t understand,” she said. “For us, it’s just about love and acceptance — we’re not here to ask for acceptance, but we’re here to just be loved.”
She continued, expressing admiration for the resilience of Kaua‘i’s LGBTQ+ community and the community at large.
“I’m very proud of our community,” she said. “I’m very proud of the growth, the acceptance — there’s always gonna be downfalls in our community, but we never let that bring us down. We just come back stronger.”
Jackson Healy, reporter, can be reached at 808-647-4966 or email@example.com.
Source: The Garden Island