Building on a vision of acceptance and empowerment, the activities planned by St. Croix Pride throughout June offer something for everyone – Virgin Islanders and the LGBTQ+ community.
According to Marc Stein, author of “Rethinking the Gay and Lesbian Movement,” Pride is celebrated in June as commemoration of the so-called Stonewall Riots in 1969. The riots came as the result of continuing, violent police raids at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. At the time, it was illegal for LGBTQ+ people to get together to have a drink or dance. During one such raid on June 28, patrons and passersby fought back and then thousands more reportedly rioted in the street over the next week.
St. Croix Pride begins the celebration at 10 p.m. Friday, May 31, and ends at 2 a.m. Saturday, June 1, at Point Udall. The kick-off party will feature Mickey Mike, a DJ from Washington D.C. who will play continuous music through the night. To add to the dazzle, glow-in-the-dark face painting and LED lit batons will all be for sale along with food and drink. Entrance is free, but partiers will pay $5 for shuttle service from Cramers Park to Point Udall. There will be no parking at Point Udall, and coolers will not be allowed.
Topher Swanson, Pride board member and co-owner of The Fred Hotel, said holding the event at Point Udall will make it the first of thousands of Pride parties, since the location is the eastern-most point of the United States.
“St. Croix is unique. We’ll kick off the month for North America,” he said.
At 6 p.m. June 6 the Pride art exhibit will open at the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts that will run all month. Swanson said the LGBTQ+ community and their allies will display original works that depict the struggles. The art center will also host a discussion, “Queerness in the Caribbean,” chaired by Joseph Bess at 6 p.m. June 21.
June 8 the second Pride Parade is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. The entry fee for participants is $20 for the march through Christiansted that will begin at No Bones Restaurant in Gallows Bay. Swanson said there will be a mystery star headlining the parade. The spectators’ route will be the same as for the St. Patrick’s Day Parades. Afterwards, there will be a block party between 40 Strand Restaurant and the Courtyard.
At 7 p.m. June 15 and 16, Island Center will host a dance concert set to Bob Marley’s music. Kashedance, originally from Jamaica and now based in Canada, will perform “Facing Home: Love and Redemption” – a dance about the interaction of LGBTQ+ and the West Indian culture. Tickets run from $18 to $25.
“It’s a very powerful piece,” Swanson said, adding that the V.I. Council on the Arts provided a grant to help bring the dance troupe to St. Croix.
This year’s Pride Dive is at the Frederiksted Pier at 10:30 a.m. June 20, led by Adventures in Diving STX on King Street in Frederiksted.
The grand finale will be a beach barbecue at Sand Castle on the Beach starting at 3 p.m. June 22. Food will be provided by various restaurants and the entertainment will include the American Airlines Drag Queens and the Coral Fire Dancers from St. Croix. Tickets are $20 or $30 at the door.
STX Pride Inc. was started six years ago. Swanson said the mission is to advocate, educate and celebrate the community.
The public is invited to attend the events for the fun and/or to show support for the LGBTQ+ community’s fight for acceptance.
“St. Croix is the most supportive (island). We are creating a ripple throughout the Caribbean Basin,” he said.
Prices and more information is available on the St. Croix Pride website.