Parade, Festival Packed Pride Weekend in Hilo

A drag performer entertains crowds at the 2019 Pride Festival in Hilo. After two years of drive-in events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Pride Weekend events are returning in-person this year. (Photo by Laura Sherwood Photography/courtesy Hawai’i Island LGBTQ+ Pride website)

Everyone is encouraged to come out this weekend to show their support and celebrate members of the Big Island’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer community and more.

Pride month has been packed with activity so far, but the main event is Saturday, June 25. The Pride Parade will once again wind from Ponahawai Street to Waiānuenue Avenue and then to Kamehameha Avenue throughout downtown Hilo beginning at 11 a.m. The Pride Festival will follow. from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Mo’oheau kiosk and surrounding park.

Both events are free and open to the public. There is also no charge to participate in the parade. The celebration is organized by Hawai’i Island LGBTQ+ Pride.

“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Phill Russell, president of Hawai’i Island LGBTQ+ Pride, told Big Island Now.

The festival will feature music from cover band 14 Daze Out, two stages with drag performances and more. Russell said there will be activities for the keiki including a scavenger hunt, arts, crafts and games, a clothing swap where people can pick up gently used clothes, a Breastfeeding for Moms and Hawai’i County Mayor Mitch Roth will attend to deliver his proclamation for Pride Day.

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“It will happen at different times, so everyone can kind of try to do whatever they want to do,” Russell said.

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A Pride Picnic at the Park, supported by gamers from the Hilo community, is also scheduled for noon during the festival and will include several drag performances by queens of all ages, games, contests and prizes. The picnic will be organized by Palehua.

There are also new events this year taking place throughout Hilo over the weekend, including the Hilo Pride Lu’au, a benefit for Kumukahi Health + Wellness, from 5-9 p.m. Friday, June 24. , at the Fairway Grill and Pride Madness from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. 11 p.m. Saturday at the Hilo Ax Lounge, which will feature music from the Average Joes.

“There’s a lot going on,” Russell said.

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After the festival on Saturday, don’t miss PINK! The Official Pride Party from 4-7pm at the Hilo Town Tavern. Then, on Sunday, June 26, Equality HI is hosting two events, the I Heart Pride Weekend Hike from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to the Ka’ū Heart Rock Fissure and the After Pride Barbecue and Potluck from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Coconut Island in Hilo.

With everything going on this weekend, Hilo is sure to be filled with pride. And the organizers of the Pride celebration are excited to return to it in person. The Pride Celebration was held as a drive-in event in 2020 and 2021 at the Hilo County building due to the pandemic.

“We had two years where we kept going, but it was driving, so it was all opposite,” Russell said. “You were the parade and people decorated their cars, drove through the county building parking lot, so I think people are really excited, jazzed up, that it’s back in person – that we can get out of our vehicles and we get to hang out and get our community back.

While they are happy to be back in person and events are mostly outdoors, they also remain mindful of the ongoing COVID pandemic.

“We’re asking people to wear masks in the bandstand area just because that’s where all the bleachers are; people are going to be side by side and there has been a lot of spread,” Russell said.

Hawai’i Island LGBTQ+ Pride has received a generous donation of locally made hand sanitizer which will also be distributed throughout the park during the festival and at various vendors and booths. The band will also be handing out masks at the bandstand so people can grab one if needed.

“I am very proud of our successful Pride Committee. We feel more organized than before, and going back to an actual parade and in-person festival is a whole different beast,” Russell said. “I am also proud that we have continued to organize all of our community events throughout the pandemic, we have just adapted. So we still have a Halloween Haunt, we still have the Gifts From Gays, we still have parades, just in a different way. So it shows how capable we are of adapting and continuing to thrive no matter what happens to us.

This year marks the 10th consecutive Island of Hawaii LQBTQ+ Pride celebration. Its theme, “10 years, past – present – proud”, not only honors this milestone, but also highlights perhaps the most common shared experience among members of the LGBTQ+ community: the decision to come out. .

“Annual Pride celebrations are one of the ways LGBTQ+ people raise awareness in their communities,” said a press release from Hawai’i Island LGBTQ+ Pride. “Not only are these events personally liberating, but they serve as an encouragement for others who might struggle with their truth. Pride celebrations send a message to feel positive about who we are and to consider going out for the first time. time.

The weekend celebrations also highlight Hawai’i Island LGBTQ+ Pride’s history as an agent of change on the Big Island, including pavilions that will feature stories and images from the group’s 10 years as well as themes and history of the LGBTQ+ movement around the world.

“Being visible is important to continue working for equality in the state,” Russell said. “Across the country, we are seeing some of those rights being clawed back when it comes to women’s rights and it could just as easily happen to the LGBTQ community. So being visible, building community, making sure we’re always standing up for the things we need is pretty important.

For more information on this weekend’s Pride festivities, visit the Hawai’i Island LGBTQ+ Pride website or find the group on Facebook and Instagram.

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