Pride is not that black and white

| 03/08/2021 | 57 Comments

Billie “Bee” Bryan writes: “Baby steps.” Those are the words so many have tried to placate me with whenever I’m enquired about my response to “Cayman Gay Pride”. As if to suggest that any action taken to uplift LGBTQIA+ people in the Cayman Islands is without scrutiny and that the event was “at least” a step in the right direction. Well, I’m sorry to say that I don’t entirely agree. And while that viewpoint is sure to place me squarely in the crosshairs of so many, “at least” allow me to explain myself.

Pride began as a protest. And it continues as a protest. It was and still is meant to call attention to the many issues that our community struggles with on a daily basis and the neglect and oppression, be it intentional or unintentional, that we’re regularly subjected to. Yes, it’s also a celebration and is intended to be a bombastic display in support of our people but that’s still meant to be in utter defiance of our ongoing marginalisation.

Yet Cayman LGBTQ Foundation, who were responsible for organising the event and everything surrounding it, stipulated quite the opposite to its participants, restricting their conduct to be even more conservative than what we have come to expect from Batabano or CayMAS Carnival. This entirely defeats the purpose of Pride and likens our genuine and valid displays of affection towards our romantic partners to vile acts such as “public defecation and urination”, to quote the words of Cayman LGBTQ Foundation itself.

Furthermore, noticeably absent from the “Cayman Gay Pride” celebrations were our country’s most powerful activists.

Was there any recognition given to Chantelle Day and Vickie Bodden-Bush, the two lesbian women who have been championing for marriage equality in the Cayman Islands for years now and are largely responsible for the success of the Civil Partnership Act? Was there any recognition given to Dr Leonardo Raznovich, internationally recognised LGBTQIA+ rights activist who was the catalyst for igniting the conversation surrounding LGBTQIA+ rights, equality and same-sex marriage in 2015?

Lastly, it is common knowledge to those in this line of work that Pride was started over 50 years ago by trans women, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. Was any recognition given to those two trailblazers or the significance of trans women spearheading this movement? Was any recognition given to Cayman’s own trans woman who founded and continues to operate our country’s first ever LGBTQIA+ non-profit organisation?

In short, our first “Cayman Gay Pride” was a Pride in name only and it should be recognised for what it truly is — a celebration. That does not discount the significance it had for our LGBTQIA+ community but we must also remain vigilant and recognise that we still have so much farther to go. The conversation surrounding what it means to be LGBTQIA+ in the Cayman Islands is only just beginning.

Yes, there is room for the conversation about class.

Yes, there is room for the conversation about privilege.

Yes, there is room for the conversation about racism.

Yes, there is room for the conversation about internalised homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and the divisive and negative impacts they have within our own community.

And yes, we have a right to call out those who are guilty of perpetuating the silencing of those so invested in the issues our community still faces — even if they themselves are a part of it.

As a queer activist who’s been fighting for so many for years now, it would be irresponsible of me not to call attention to the many crucial issues that were entirely ignored or individuals who were purposefully — some might argue even strategically — excluded from the festivities. And as much as I want to participate in the rejoicing of what should have been such a historic and meaningful moment for our cause, I cannot help but feel cast out and even more marginalised, and sadly, by the very same people who should be fighting alongside me.

That said, I am proud of how far we’ve come. And I’m proud of the people who worked so hard to get us there. I only wish that Cayman LGBTQ Foundation could be proud of us as well.

Billie “Bee” Bryan, Founder and President of Colours Caribbean

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Comments (57)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Why, in Cayman, does there ALWAYS have to be DESTRUCTIVE “competition” between organizations with the same goal? Many years ago there was one group which organized the national beauty pageant – Miss Cayman competition. The event was inclusive and was a primary, very popular, entertainment event of the year and everyone knew who was the reigning Miss Cayman. Then it became two, and soon there were Miss Cayman World, Miss Cayman Universe, Miss Cayman International, Miss Cayman Something, etc. Now essentially, the Miss Whomever competition is passe, few people even notice when there is a contest and fewer can tell you right off who is the current Miss Cayman.

    Then in the 1980s Batabano Carnival was created and was hugely successful for years and years, but along came other Carnivals (Cay Mas?) and conflict – so much so that Government had to step in and make a ruling that there will be only one Carnival event.

    Now, already, there is trouble brewing between Colours Caribbean and Cayman LGBTQ Foundation! Soon any progress gays make will evaporate because of jealous infighting! Stop the shit and work together!!

    Be grateful Cayman has embraced homosexuality to the extent that open parades are allowed and can be held safely – in some places these parades would be attacked with violence!

    I have no vested interest – I’m a sixty-something, straight, heterosexual father with no homosexual children, but intelligent and liberal enough to accept people for who they are, not what they are!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Now that the parade is behind us, should we get on with living and forget the need to be labelled and just be people and keep life private.

  3. Anonymous says:

    And with that out of the way we can all look forward to some bumping, grinding, heaving flesh and general debauchery this weekend. #caymanculture

  4. Anonymous says:

    Billie was invited to join the parade and she declined. That is a fact! While I agree that Chantelle and Vicky and Billie’s presence was missed and they should have been there we cannot dismiss the fact that this parade was organized and pulled off by the LGBT Foundation without a hitch. In fact, by all accounts it was a very successful and for some gay Caymanians it was the best day of their lives because they never expected to see it happen. I would hope all parties can come together and show some real pride and unity and work together for future events. Why be divisive when you get enough of that from othere communities. Put your egos aside admit and apologize for any pain caused and move on for the betterment of your community. AND for the record the pride parade was born out of a bar in New York City gay village (Stonewall) not by Marcia or any other trans woman.

    • u thought says:

      Trans woman, Marsha P. Johnson absolutely spearheaded Stonewall, Pride as we know it today. She was murdered for her activism. You have no clue what you are talking about and are perpetuating the erasure of trans women.

      • Anonymous says:

        erasure of trans women!? get a grip. If anything opposite holds true. Biological women risk being erased. You only have to look at the Olympics this year to see that.

      • anonymous says:

        I thought the year after Stonewall a proposal was put forward perhaps a year later about some type of protest/parade with the main people being involved being Craig Rodwell and Fred Sargent as well as Ellen Brady and Linda Rhodes. Perhaps a read of the attached link to an article could be helpful. (cut and past to browser)

        I am a married gay Caymanian and I find it discouraging that there always has to be a battle of egos with the community. does everyone know that the first acronym used was GLBT. Why this changed was to me based upon egos within the community. As an older gay man the Word “queer” is more derogatory than Faggot and should not be used. If the argument is that the Queer was owned by the “Gay” community then perhaps the word “faggot” should also be owned.

  5. Anonymous says:

    The unruffled inaugural was a safe tactical launch strategy considering the resident 17th Century lunatic fringe. It also seems to have gone off without any hitches, or political opposition, and that’s how other parades elsewhere launched with wider community support and mindset changes building thereafter (albeit years earlier than Cayman). Success should be measured in that there can be no cause to object to a sequel, whether that’s a month or even a year from now. Cayman will get there. History is on your side Billy.

  6. two thumbs up says:

    Very good essay. Thank you for writing this, Billie.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Based on the coverage of the parade it was indeed very WHITE and not black at all … but as an aside this infighting within the community is wrong …but I will reserve my comments until I see if this weekend’s parades will be conducted with similar restrictions … more anon

    • Anonymous says:

      7:27 Can you elaborate on your point, please? Are you worried that the event wasn’t open/friendly to people of colour? Or are you saying that you observed that people of colour are less likely to support this type of event?

  8. Actually says:

    I stayed away to avoid the usual flamboyant, in-your-face, debacle; now I’m sorry I missed it. I also avoid the other two events for the same reason.

  9. Anon says:

    Love is love , but let’s get history right . PRIDE was not born from or by transgender women – it was started by a group that existed long before LGBTQT + , at least 20 years to be exact . 1969 Gay PRIDE first paraded through streets of the US , 1981 in England – by gay people – transgender didn’t hit the scene til 1996, or rather attempt to take it over . PRIDE was established to fight for equality , the right to be recognized as an equal in society the trans community are an add on over history – a group that was welcomed by the community . sadly an element of the ‘ new wave’ trans community are trying to rule and dominant spaces they have no right to enter or be a part of …. Hence the parade in cayman had rules , allowing respect and love for all to shine !! And shine we did !!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Um, equality under law and in fact? Seems fairly obvious.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Billie and Colours Caribbean are outrageous. Who gives them the right to dictate what acts of resistance, celebration or intimacy look like? Am I to understand that Colours Cayman now must qualify your gayness?

    People are living their identity as they see fit. This is not a brand that has been designed by you, Billie. The gay pride parade is not a fashion show for the brand “Queer: by Billie Bryan”. People get to do what feels right to them! Shocking that you don’t understand and respect this concept.

    People who live in the margins may find walking down the road in full view of their friends and colleagues as an audacious act in and of itself. You don’t get to define what love looks like—affection does not have to be French kissing and overt PDA, it can be smiles and hugs. You are not the judge and jury on LBGTQIA+ lifestyles. Get over yourself.

    Love is love…remember?

    Instead of being divisive and publicly trying to shame your brothers and sisters in the struggle, sit back and learn from all of us who have been fighting for our rights as colored people, women, and poor people in this world for over 100 yeas—the ones who have opened every door that you now prance through and have the nerve to slam in the face of Others. Unity and acceptance is what it’s about and the only route to progress.

    Walk in love…your BULLY Bryant approach is getting you nowhere, fast.

    • Anonymous says:

      Honestly, I have spoken to some people who are turned off and/or against the LGBT+ community and the majority have said that it is Billie’s approach and lack of respect that caused them not to want to hear anything about it. They also stated that they refuse to support anything that condones her actions/behavior. Her bullying, in your face, everyone needs to think like me behavior has been such a massive turn off for people and been a true detriment to the LGBT+ community. Such a s shame. I am glad that Noel and the Cayman LGBTQ Foundation have taken a different, respectful, and measured approach. The parade was a fantastic step in the right direction and I commend them for their efforts.

      • Anonymous says:

        9:06 yes! She isn’t doing the LGBTQ community any favors with her attitude. Many in that community feel that way.

    • Kirstie Johnson says:

      I approve this message 100000000000000%. Sowing division gets you nowhere and it reflects poorly on the very cause you claim to support. To this writer you have summed it up in a nutshell what other people are feeling.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Billie Bee Bryan – I consider myself a liberal, more center-left, politically but my acceptance of homosexuality has no political tone. Basically I don’t care where anyone’s personal choice takes them as long as they don’t infringe on my HEALTH (i.e. I’m bothered by ignoramuses who take pandemics as a joke but not so much bothered by gays). Therefore, I have no reason to have anything against anyone based on their lifestyle. But….I have two questions:

    1. Just a few years ago it was LGBT movement, then LGBTQ, ok more specifically inclusive, fine. Now LGBTQIA+, the last few designations I have no clue what they stand for. So, can you please clarify for me and others, IA+ = what exactly please? Also, will new “categories” mean more letters added. How does that work?

    2. Why did the gay movement hijack the colours of the hippie/psychedelic generation to which I’ve always related (and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition BTW) as their own Pride colours? I had to ditch all my tie-dyes, my stoner psychedelic coloured candles and my early 70’s blacklite posters because anyone who sees them now asks if I’m gay?

    Seriously, I’m not taking the piss…..

    • Not Billie says:

      Only to answer your question #1: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual (I got an eye twitch after reading all that). Joke: what happened to pan and metro? Someone please pass me a map-am so lost.

  13. Anonymous says:

    It’s nice to see a genuine intersectional message among Cayman LGBTQ people and it’s a shame so many of the comments here perfectly exemplify the pressure to be “good gays”.

    The parade was one milestone, and an important one, but it’s not the goal.

  14. Anonymous says:

    To be gay is beautiful the act is forbidden.

    • Anonymous says:

      So wait. What? I can do your hair and be the snappy sidekick in all your favorite rom-com movies but the minute I want to have sex it’s forbidden and I’m disqualified?!

      • Anonymous says:

        They don’t think. At all. Otherwise they would see how dumb the statement is. Pretty much like homophobia itself.

  15. Anonymous says:

    A kingdom divided cannot stand.

  16. Anonymous says:

    oh, please

  17. Anonymous says:

    Billie “Bee” Bryan, I really don’t understand the point of all this LGBTQ pride stuff. Where is this going and what’s the desired end result? People have always appressed other people and to think it will go away is foolish, its just going to change form. LGBTQ people have been living on the planet the whole time. Why do people have to accept or like you? I don’t hate you, I don’t know you, I don’t care about you or your cause and I don’t care what people want to do or be as long as they don’t hurt one another. This really boils downs to a persons sexuality being oppressed, correct? This coming weekend there will be a sex parade that makes no sense at all. What are the origins of this event? People wearing some skimpy outfits drinking and dancing their way down a street wanting others to watch them. Laugh at them or with them? What will not be seen, hopefully, is the sex and the rapes that no one ever mentions in the media, and every counselor on this island knows it happens ever year. What, Billie, are we doing with all this and where is it taking us. I’m not a religious person at all and don’t care what people do. But I do see in all this there is some sort of violence that will stem from it. Its sad

    • Anonymous says:

      Imagine if you are a gay person and hundreds and hundreds of derogatory hateful comments these last few days were addressed directly at you, not to mention other things you would not be able to do in life like getting married, for example, so many things really. Tired of explaining same things. Just be happy you don’t need the parade. If you do not understand by this point in time why pride is important, just quit trying. That is all I can say. Thank you for at least not hating.

      • Anonymous says:

        Before there was marriage there were gay people, get over the marriage thing. Just live together. And wipe you sensitive shoulder as you will always have people snickering behind your back, gay, straight, black or white…..that’s what people do

        • Anonymous says:

          What about the rights that come with marriage? Why do they have heterosexual marriage then? Think already.
          My shoulder is not sensitive, but some people’s are.

        • Anonymous says:

          Imagine thinking the issue is “snickering”.

      • Anonymous says:

        Majority of people indifferent to who you are if you don’t exhibit publicly your affection to an extreme degree. I wouldn’t even know who you are if you don’t push it into my face- it would make me uncomfortable, but I still wouldn’t hate or despise you. Offense is an abstract concept existing in one’s head. If someone insult you verbally or physically that is a different matter. As for the Parade, I don’t care one way or another. Actually today it is a nice distraction from COVID-mania/phobia. Carnivals of all kinds where people simply celebrate life are much needed today.

    • Anonymous says:

      Billie, you need to sit down and shit to hell up, you were invited and I’ve seen the invitation letter and messages sent to you and you refused to attend or join now you on CNS playing the poor little me. Mr. Cayasso-Smith is correct by not engaging you with your lies. I wish he would have posted the emails and messages sent to you inviting you to join this pride parade. Get rid of the little green man and stop pointing the finger at the Cayman LGBTQ Foundation for doing such a great job putting Cayman on this event that was supported. In fact, the group that was at Craft in protest were all at Tillie’s enjoying themselves because they saw the importance of the event and also wanted to be a part of this historic moment for the Cayman Islands and the Gay community.
      You have done nothing but speak ill of Mr. Cayasso-Smith and his team but I have to say his event was executed with style and respect towards all. In truth, you are the one who is trying to divide the LGBTQ community with your nonsense. No one wants to speak up and tell you the truth.

  18. Don't Make Me Come Over There says:

    I have been privvy to your “style” of bullying, Billie, and I think you are doing a major injustice and disservice to the Community that you are so passionately trying to thrust into the limelight. It simply doesn’t work like that. You are guilty of the very thing you claim to abhor – bullying.

    You cannot expect to shame people, companies, mindsets into buying into your lifestyle and personal choices. Do you honestly feel that vinegar will attract the flies better than honey? Live your life, fight for your cause and accept that things take time. It sucks and it hurts and it’s frustrating, but I assure you, those who are uncomfortable with homosexuality or a trans lifestyle, etc., will NEVER be won over by being threatened, mocked, ridiculed and bullied into feeling like THEY are the minority.

    Homophobia has been around since the beginning of time – you really expect to conquer that pandemic in one lifetime?? You are not the everlasting saviour for all things rainbowed. I am sorry to burst your bubble. What we experienced this weekend in Cayman is HUGE. Unprecedented. Never before thought possible. Embrace that! Be proud of that! Celebrate that! There were NO incidents of violence or hate crimes this weekend. Many threats from those who were disgusted at the very thought of what this represents, but not a single recording by police of an arrest associated with backlash by the “straight” commmunity towards participants, supporters or otherwise.

    Shame on you for wanting to make this about individuals! How childish, Billie! Every LGBTQIA+ human on earth has fought for what we are seeing around the world. Not one single individual is more special or noteworthy, regardless of their activism, vocal efforts or visibility. All lives matter, Billie. So for you to throw shade at the organisers and event because you were not placed on a throne and hoisted into the air on the shoulders of half naked, muscle-bound, oiled and sweaty jocks for all to worship and praise is a selfish, self-centred and reprehensible display of vanity and narcissism. Please get over yourself before you do more damage than good to those you claim to avenge and protect.

    If I were not already supportive of LGBTQIA+ rights, I would be so completely turned off by your approach and behaviour (in addition to other things I have witnessed at your hand). It is no wonder some people have such a hard time accepting you and what you stand for. You think that because you demand respect it will come. Sorry to say, it never will and all that you stand for will be in vain. Honey, Billie, not vinegar – remember that, love.

    Oh and try exercising a little gratitude and appreciation. What you are asking people to do is change a generations-long mindest, ingrained since birth, on an island that has been historically governed with a very strong religious tilt. Today a parade, tomorrow, who knows.

    • The Bold says:

      The way of the Caymanian people is to drink like it’s not a problem and judge those who are different, I’m Caymanian and though I’m not gay I believe everyone deserves the respect to express themselves and The Parade is a step in the right direction but this passive aggressive nonsense in the comments is not right. Love one another and don’t be ignorant. “Alll Lives Matter”

  19. RC says:

    The first pride parade was overall a very positive first step (of many needed) for Cayman. However, it is a shame that there are already factions and in-fighting amongst the groups.

    For CaymanLGBTQ to disinvite Vickie and Chantelle is really unfortunate. For verbiage to say displays of affection are indecent acts is unfortunate.

    However, gays/lesbians/bisexuals/same sex attracted partners simply wanted similar rights for all. The agenda of trans, gender non-binary, and others as part of the LGBT “+” has seemed to go far past the original core rights ideals which is causing pushback even from other LGB (it is transphobic for a cisgendered woman to not be attracted to a trans man, it is transphobic believe science that biological sex is not a social construct even if one is accepting gender fluidity and that some may not identify as their biological sex, it is transphobic to believe children under 16 should not be forced to go through hormone therapy, etc.)

    Yes, there were brave trans people involved in gay rights but rewriting history to say trans did Stonewall when Marsha Johnson herself even admits she wasn’t there at the protest is a strange way to take credit away from other gays.

    I think some need to get over their own egos (Cayman LGBTQ included) to all support unity in enhancing rights for LGBT+ vs. fostering adversarial competition against the original goals. However, overall I think it is amazing that such a respectful pride parade and event occurred, that there was leadership from the Governor, Premier, and a member of Opposition. It also shows how small minded and bigoted and hateful/non-Christian those who want to restrict human rights truly are. The pride parade was certainly more respectful and family oriented than the indecent acts that will most likely take place during Caymas or the next “straight” event where a performer might aggressively hump a woman off stage or a member of Parliament might commit adultery, viciously abuse a woman, or have a sexual relationship with someone underage.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thank you 1:16 this was perfectly put. This is how a many of us feel. I am a big supporter of the LGB movement. I have many Gay and Bi friends who I love to bits and would wrestle a F@%king crocodile for. But even people like myself have limits and don’t necessarily agree with everything in the movement. This does not make me a “bigot” (which is a term that seems to be thrown around as easily as feces in a chimp enclosure in this day and age). This parade was a huge success and my heart is full of love and pride (no pun intended) for our community for the success of this event. However, Billie, you seem to have the mindset that enough will never be enough. Take heart in how much progress we have made in a very short period of time. Your dfensive almost militant attitude to wanting to change everyones view point and way of life is dangerous and you risk alienating and damaging what has so far been achieved. United we stand but divided we fall. What you want to change and “fix” might end up damaging what you and the allies have sought to change. I see a few people have already said the excellent phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. They are completely right. We have come so far and achieved much. Take heart in that and don’t go at it like a bull at a gate.

  20. Big up Cayman LGBTQ Foundation says:

    UNGRATEFUL! The parade that Cayman LGBTQ Foundation put together was a great advancement for the islands. It was well done and respectful of all. You cannot expect to just have full displayed flamboyance where they was never any previously. Things take time and integrating the parade and parties into being was well done by Noeland the rest of the foundation. Billie needs to stop being so pushy about everything. This is exactly why Billie is constantly faced with resistance.

    • Anonymous says:

      “Gratitude” for winning what was already ours by right.

      This is why we need people like Billie Bryan. Too many fair-weather allies.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Fully agree with this viewpoint. My understanding is that many who questioned the “morals” restrictions were simply told not to attend (or removed from the participant list and found out when they came to get their bracelet).
    Pride is a protest, and a fight to be recognized as equal. To take a stand against marginalization. Yes, it is incremental, but those increments are on the basis of the oppressor, not the oppressed.
    Wanting to present as “good” gays, if you will, seems to me to be detrimental to the movement in that it accepts and is complicit to the concept of the “good” gays.
    Recognizing the faults of the Pride parade is not being in opposition to it – its the continued pressure to push for real, and full equality. To that end, I applaud and support Billie for pointing out we can continue to do better.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are full of shit and a huge reason why LGBTQ+ has not gained further understanding and traction. Nothing ever seems to be enough for many of you, always wanting more. Have a slice of humble pie and realize that things take time. It was great to see the support and turn of/at the parade, stop trying to discredit the efforts that were made and the fact that history was made.

      • Anonymous says:

        Guess I’ll go sit in my bad gay corner and wait for some nice person to pass me a slice of equal rights when they deem that I finally deserve it. No doubt you’ll eventually get a seat at their table if you smile pretty and curtsey just right.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I agree about those trailblazers here that you have mentioned should have been part of this.
    Sorry, I don’t understand why you weren’t the catalyst to make sure that happened? Cuz I know you weren’t sitting around doing nothing! ;0)

    This was a huge endeavor. Maybe more calls should have gone out to others who may have been able to help?

    Was an amazing first event. We all talked about what it can become once we open up. I look forward to next year!

    I will be looking for ways that I can help!

  23. Annonymous says:

    Some people love this parade. Some people hate this parade.
    Some people don’t care one way or another and just want to live their life without being chastised for feeling ambivalent.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Yet they wonder why there is so much push back… you cannot expect to be like a bull in a China shop. That is how things get out of hand and dangerous incidents can occur. It was a great parade with many people in support so it IS a step in the right direction. Rome was not built in a day.

    • Anonymous says:

      Billie is always looking for some big statement. She thinks she speaks for every LGBTQ person in Cayman but many don’t want her “bullish” (in your face) representation.

      • Anonymous says:

        So true! I have many friends and family members who are gay, they constantly say that Billie does not represent them or their beliefs. Not only does she turn off the broader community but also members of the LGBTQ+ community which is very unfortunate. If I did not already support the community, I would be extremely turned off by her behavior.

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