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Away for Pride Month

June is Pride Month. One of the most hardest parts about being away from home is missing all of the festivities. I am from San Diego, a city with high Pride visibility. Although Hawaii is known as the “rainbow state,” I noticed Kaua’i was lacking in visibility. However, when my boss (at the Hanalei Watershed Hui) handed me a flyer for the first annual Pride festival on Kaua’i, I was overjoyed. It publicized a morning parade and an all-day festival. I felt like I finally had a place to celebrate my identity.

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This is a flyer for the first annual Kaua’i Pride festival.


The Day Arrives

The morning of Pride, we had a work day at the Alekoko Fish Pond. Missing the parade disappointed me, but I understood that community service is our priority. I actually felt extremely fulfilled as our morning ended. I sprayed off my mud-covered shoes, changed into my “Love to All” shirt, and got ready to go to the end of the festival. To be honest, my expectations were low. It was the first Pride on the island. We would be arriving as things started to close down. None of my fellow participants openly identify as LGBTQ+. I was excited, but tentative.


The Festival

We finally arrived at the County Park in Lihue. I opened the van door and heard “Chandelier” by Sia blasting. Immediately, all of my fears disappeared. We walked into the park, and Pride was in full swing. Local food trucks lined the grass. Pride flags flew from palm trees. In the center of it all, a drag queen lipsynced to Sia.


My heart felt so full. Not only was the Pride festival still in full swing, but we came in the middle of a drag show. Highlights of the show included seeing a drag queen dressed as Ursula, a queen throwing sushi rolls into the audience, and even a queen jumping into the splits. To top it all off, the Emcee directed our attention to the back of the seating area. In this location, a drag queen performed two songs on aerial silks. I had never seen anything like it. People cheered and cheered, myself included, for this incredible performer.

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A drag queen poses on aerial silks at Kaua’i’s first annual Pride festival.

So many aspects of Kaua’i Pride filled me with joy. I think the best part of this experience was how supportive my fellow participants were. Yes, they all identify as heterosexual and cisgender, but they made me feel so loved. While one person would be grabbing a pride flag for me, another would be passing out rainbow stickers to the group. One person even posted a picture of me on her story and said she was proud of me. After being shamed for who I am for years, it felt so good to have someone say they were proud of me.

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DukeEngage Kaua’i participants gather together for a group photo at Kaua’i Pride.


Final Takeaways

It was an honor to participate in Kaua’i’s first annual Pride festival. We were making history. Although we did not travel to another country for our DukeEngage project, we were still witnessing strides being made in equality and human rights. The year is 2019, and this island just had its first Pride. We need to recognize that change still needs to be made. We need to do better.


Love is love. Aloha is aloha.