The term queer was once used as a very negative and offensive term to hurt or call-out someone who was not straight. These days, people (especially youth) who identify themselves as queer seem to balance the entire LGBTQQIAUP (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Unsure and Pansexual) spectrum on their shoulders and have to stand up for themselves and their community. Not only to defend who they are and what they are proud of, but to change the old-fashioned perspective of what the word “queer” now represents.
LGBTQ pride encompasses so many different meanings and individuals. Here is a small sampling of the thinking from some of those individuals, which we’re running in honor of the upcoming Maui Pride Festival. One idea they all hold in common is the need to embrace who we are and be proud of those differences. When we celebrate our differences, we are celebrating ourselves.
For more information on Maui Pride, call 808-446-0549 or go online to mauipride.org/pride-schedule.
Betty’s Beach Cafe owner
I live part-time on Maui and part-time in San Diego. My family has lived on Maui part time for over 20 years. I own Betty’s Beach Cafe in Lahaina. We’ve been open for three and a half years and we have, since the start, promoted Betty’s as a gay-owned and gay-friendly establishment. It was a priority of mine from the get-go. We want Betty’s to be an open, friendly and fun environment for everybody.
Maui Pride means taking the time to support the visibility, the bravery, the empowerment, and the “pride” of the LGBTQ community on the islands. I have been attending pride parades all across the country since I was 21. I have brought most all of my family, and my straight friends to their first prides.
The stronger the support and the visibility of gay people and more importantly of the straight people who love and support us, the better our lives will be. In small towns and communities all over the country there will be a number of young, scared and insecure gay kids. We need to show support, bravery and pride for them to understand they are not alone, and they have a support system in their community, whether they know it or not.
Bullying and teen suicide are the biggest issues facing our community today, in my opinion. Our youth do not have the safe haven of our home once they leave the schoolyard where they may be being bullied. With all the social media and technology, it can be a 24-hour attack. The Trevor Project is a 24-hour suicide hotline that I have been involved in for almost 12 years. This is an only lifeline for some young people in very small and ignorant states/towns.
Our straight alliances are some of the most important parts of pride parades, in my opinion. Not only for young gays to feel supported by others, but for other straight people to feel comfortable in showing support and becoming a part of the community.
This year in San Diego, all active military gays and lesbians were allowed to march in the parade in their full uniform. This was a first ever in any state. It was amazing.
Julie Yoneyama (aka CoCo)
Na Hoaloha Ekolu Director of Employee and Community Relations
Maui Pride is a time where LGBTQ can acknowledge their individuality as a group—no judgment, fear, apprehension or explanations because everyone at these events are there for one reason—to celebrate! I have many LGBTQ friends! I am a queen without a country!
I am the Director of Employee and Community Relations at Na Hoaloha Ekolu, where we respect diversity in our employees, visitors and community and also MC at the Old Lahaina Luau. Because of my position, I have the opportunity to engage with existing as well as potential employees, community organizations, other Maui businesses and visitors from all over the world.
It’s unfortunate that our gay community is small, or rather, spread out. There are not many social events that can bring everyone together. Even the Priscilla Cruise is gone… Or am I just that out of touch? So when an opportunity comes along like Maui Pride, we should promote and support it. After all, many LGBTQ have fought for years to be recognized.
Only an ignorant person would assume you have to be gay to be a part of the LGBTQ community. I have been to all-female parties where I was the only “straight” girl and wasn’t afraid of the stigma that came with attending. All my friends are LGBTQ-friendly or they are not considered my friends.
I am looking forward to Maui Pride. I will be seeing a lot of my friends who I haven’t seen in a long time! In fact, I’m going to call my “HUs” and arrange for a rendezvous at the Daytime Festival—see you there!
Maui Pride President
Pride itself means to me something to be proud of. I think a lot of people assume that the reason the LGBTQ community has a parade or a “Pride” festival is to be different or to stand out. Some people could go as far as saying that we’re flaunting it to people who aren’t “gay.”
But really that’s not what it is at all. The LGBTQ community has been fighting for equal rights for so long, and as a community we have come a long way. And to celebrate that we celebrate Pride as a way for us to say look at how far we have come, and let’s keep moving forward.
My husband Ben and I moved from Oregon in Oct of 2011 and when we got to Maui, we wanted to pick something to get involved in. We met another LGBTQ organization here called Both Sides Now (BSN). At the time we got here, BSN had been talking about canceling Pride as there were no real volunteers to take it over. And it was something they just supported, but wasn’t part of their main goals as an organization. So Ben and I talked and we were like, let’s find some more people and start a new organization, mostly modeled after PrideNW which is Portland, Oregon’s Pride organization. We met several other community members and started a board. The goal was to have monthly fundraising events that would help fund a Pride festival and to start a scholarship fund. With the amount of fundraising we did this year, we have enough to pay for the festival and award two scholarships in the amount of $1,250 each.
Maui is definitely is a lot smaller and spread out. Acceptance is something everyone craves. In school we all wanted to be the most popular kid, in our jobs we want to be the best and in our families we all want to be accepted for who we are. Whether you’re born gay, straight, short, tall, etc., it’s acceptance. As a small community, what better way to come together and say “Hey” here we are, thanks for accepting us and keep standing with us.
I think the main thing that faces the LGBTQ community right now is full marriage equality. It certainly is the topic of all politics right now. One of my favorite things I heard was by the Governor of Washington, when she talked about why she wanted marriage equality. She said, while her church doesn’t agree with it, it’s not the government’s job to deny a marriage license to a consenting couple who wants to marry. The government’s job is to provide the marriage license. It’s up to the church if they want to marry that couple.
To be honest you don’t have to be gay to be part of the LGBTQ community. We want everyone to be part of it so we can all be a community. We love people who come to support the rights of LGBTQ individuals. We call them our allies, and whether they stand by us while we’re fighting for equal rights or just go out and have fun. Just being friends and supportive is what counts.
As for being “out,” there are a lot of people who aren’t ready to come out and then on the other side are a lot of people who are out. You have to be comfortable with who you are and realize that people are going to like/love you for who you are. And when you’re ready to come out, know that there is a community ready to support you.
Pride is a place and opportunity to connect with other gay people locally and have a sense of community and promote the gay community to visitors to make Maui another reason why gay visitors should come to our island.
I’m a Realtor/Broker in both Hawaii and California and have been for 18 years. In Hawaii, I work with Coldwell Banker Island Properties and in California I have my own brokerage. I have a partner of 15 years and a 21-year-old son who attends San Jose State University.
We generally have some commonality because we are LGBTQ and have the same issues with discrimination and lack of equal rights compared to the rest of the population. Regardless of our differences in other areas, we are all discriminated against by the mere fact that we don’t have equal benefits and responsibilities as other tax paying citizens.
We are celebrating our existence and pride in who we are as a group. We’re no different than any other group that celebrates some other occasion.
I think Maui Pride is important so that everyone knows there is a gay community. Locals may not be aware that there is as large a community. Straights need to realize that we are everywhere and are just regular people that they interact with everyday and that we live normal lives, just like them. I think this is true for our tourist visitors as well so they know they are welcome and that there is community here that welcomes them, and hopefully the entire island as well.
Tiare Sua (aka Tiare Larage)
Maui Aids Foundation Counselor/HIV Tester/DJ
We celebrate LGBTQ because of the stigma that has been around. And because if this world was to accept the LGBTQ community I believe that we wouldn’t be having a celebration of Pride but a celebration about life itself. But because a lot of discrimination and stigma towards our community we have every right to be proud of who we are.
I am a male-to-female transgender woman. I live my life as a woman 24/7. I currently work for the Maui AIDS Foundation as a counselor tester for HIV/Hep C. I stand as the president for Both Sides Now. I am also the only TG DJ on Maui. I am a resident DJ for Ambrosia Martini Lounge.
Pride is important to me, whether or not our community is big or small because I believe in education. People who don’t know about our lifestyles might not know that we are not a sin and are not that different from them. It’s the stigma that sooner or later will not exist. Hopefully! Also to let other LGBTQ people know that they are not alone. There are others like you.
Some of the issues here on Maui are not having a set venue for the LGBTQ to socialize in a clean and safe environment. We have been slightly lucky for other businesses to let us have a venue. Nothing as large as Hapa’s or Gian Dons. Those are two businesses that have closed down. One of the other issues is that we don’t have a PFlag (Parents of Gay and Lesbians) Maui for the LGBTQ youth for group sessions with the LGBTQ community to talk about stigma and acceptance. So there are quite a few issues here on Maui that people are trying their best to work on. But because lack of funding to organizations it kind of makes it harder.
Being part of the gay community does not mean that you are gay at all. It just means you are comfortable and very in tuned with yourself. It doesn’t mean that you are prone to dating someone of same sex. It just means that you accept people for who they are regardless of color, race, gender or sexual orientation.
Being out is a great thing because you don’t have to hide who you are as an individual or be uncomfortable in your skin.
Maui Pride means coming together as a community to celebrate our similarities but also our differences. The LGBT community on Maui is very open and we have many straight allies who support us. Maui Pride provides opportunities for us to be in a safe place and be able to be authentic around others who accept each of us as we are.
I’m an insurance agent who works for my aunt, who owns a State Farm agency in Kihei. I also have a side business as a marketing distributor for Send Out Cards. In my spare time, I enjoy seeing all the beautiful and exciting things Maui has to offer–hiking, the beach and our beautiful weather. I also enjoy photography and love capturing the beauty I see when I’m out running or hanging out with friends.
I identify with pride as an organization and a concept that celebrates everyone, not just the LGBTQ community. Although many might say pride events are necessary until LGBTQ people have equal rights, I think it’s important to continue to celebrate our history, struggles and triumphs as a community. Plus, it’s just fun!
One of the main highlights of the festival this year is our focus on youth and family-friendly activities. We are having an all ages ‘80s Kick-Off Party on Friday, Oct. 5 which is free to attend. We will also have Hawaiian cultural activities like lei-making at the daytime festival. Saturday night, Oct. 6, we will be having a Second Chance Prom, allowing LGBTQ youth to celebrate in a safe space. They may not have been able to attend their own high school prom with the date of their choice and this gives them a chance to relive the magic of prom.
There are still many issues facing the LGBTQ community, despite some of the triumphs we have seen in the last few years. Although civil unions are legal in Hawaii, they are still not recognized by a majority of states and same-sex marriage is still not legal at the federal level. Bullying is still a huge issue in schools, which was brought to light after several suicides within the last couple of years. Even changing the way people speak, such as not saying the phrase, “That’s so gay,” or calling someone a “fag” is a big hurdle that still needs to be overcome.
One of my favorite moments where I experienced gay pride was marching in the Phoenix Pride Parade with my fraternity in college. We drove up from Tucson to participate in the parade as well as the festival. It was cool to march together and be proud of who we are, along with feeling so supported by the rest of the community.
Danielle Marie Bergan
I’m the T in LGBTQ: transgender. Maui Pride means being free to celebrate who you are no matter what. Similar to the title of my book, It’s Always Okay To Be Me. Pride is being a transgender woman who is proud to be finally of the same mind and body.
I have been in sales and marketing the last 10 years and currently am unemployed and promoting my new book. Ultimately I am looking for something that can utilize my writing and sales talents. In the next few months I will be interning with Women Helping Women, helping Stacey Moniz, with whatever she needs from me–HR help, fundraising, whatever. As for me, I am a sober, nicotine-free woman who is grateful every day for the life I have as Danielle. I believe I am a miracle and if I can help someone else become that miracle than my current life will be a success.
Why Celebrate Pride? Why not? The Irish have St. Patrick’s day, the Germans, Oktoberfest… and so on down the line. LGBTQ pride means to me being okay with who you are and not afraid to live your life as that person. I mean after all, even Republicans can have their own convention.
Sadly, for years our community has endured prejudice stemming mostly from ignorance on the part of the mainstream. Now after some 50 years of “moving on up,” the average John Q. Public knows several gay or transgender people and realizes we are just like they are. All we want are the same things, love, acceptance and a chance at the American Dream.
For my community, transsexuals, probably affordable health care is the highest priority. I also believe suicide prevention, homelessness and help from alcoholism and substance abuse are extremely important. Our numbers of risk far exceed the national average in all categories.
I was born and raised in Utah (no, I’m not Mormon). Half of my family is Mormon while the other half are Catholic, which I was raised. I guess you can say that I was one of the few lucky gay persons who has an accepting family. But I think that it also comes from being close to everyone and loving one another. I’m sure some may not agree with the LGBTQ lifestyle because of their beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that either of us are bad people or that we can’t be a family.
I left Utah in 2001 where I moved to Oregon to go to school. During my 10 years there, I met my husband Bob Kincaid. After we got a domestic partnership in 2010, we took a trip to Maui for our honeymoon. While we were here, we fell in love with the friendliness of the people, the beauty of the island, and the culture and community. So we decided to move to Maui in 2011. My husband and I are both graphic designers and have backgrounds in printing. We both work for the hotel industry as office managers and assist guests with their printing and office needs.
Pride hits me on many levels. Growing up, I’ve had to struggle with pride coming from a mixed family of half-Hispanic and half-Caucasian. I’ve witnessed how society is so giving to a majority race while the minority has to struggle more, work harder, and protect their loved ones. It’s even hard to be proud of who you are when most forms and paperwork ask for you to identify as one race and my options were “Hispanic” or “Caucasian (Non-Hispanic).”
Statistically speaking, over 10 percent of the population is LGBTQ. Even for a small community, LGBTQ persons still make up a small portion of that community. Small communities should recognize and celebrate LGBTQ pride because everyone should feel included and important. To make a community that truly works, you need all diversities to be part of the whole.
One of the largest hurdles is the LGBTQ lifestyle vs religion. In my opinion, no religion should teach to hate. Everyone is different and everyone has their own beliefs. I hear about this big fear that if gay marriage is legalized, the law would force religions to wed gay couples. People seem to forget that the United States cannot force religions to change their beliefs because they are protected by “freedom of religion” and “separation of church and state.” Because we have freedom of religion, you should allow your beliefs to guide your life, but not to change laws to take away the rights of people with different beliefs then you.
You think that just being gay and coming out is hard? Try being gay and coming out in Utah! It actually used to be a lot more difficult when I was in high school back at the end of the 1990s. Back then, Utah high schools didn’t have GSAs (Gay Straight Alliances). The first LGBTQ student club in Utah actually started one year before I started attending East High School in Salt Lake City.
There was such a big debate about it because the Salt Lake City Board of Education took away ALL non-curricular student clubs just to disband the GSA at East High. Students got so upset about this that they organized walkouts during school and marches to the state capital. I was proud to be who I was and part of the group standing up to discrimination. There was actually a documentary made about the whole event called Out of the Past. It’s a great movie. I recommend checking it out.
I’m the area coordinator for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep on Maui and I’m the secretary of the Maui Pride board. Maui Pride is being proud of who I am: a lesbian woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt and friend. It means being proud of who you are and celebrating it is a way to show the community that we are proud of who we are.
It’s a relatively small community here, which is even more reason to celebrate and let people know that we are here on the Island. It brings our community together and lets us meet new people and develop new friendships. I feel it’s important to be involved in your community no matter what that community is. It is my hope that we can bring people from all walks of life together and become accepting of one another.
Yes, I am gay, out and proud. It just means that I acknowledge who I am and that I don’t try to hide who I am to anyone. It’s not about a “moment;” it’s my life and I’m proud of it every day, all of the time!
Childs Travel owner
I’m the new Vice President for Maui Pride. In addition, I own Childs Travel, a full service Travel Agency here on Maui that assists with all of your travel needs whether local or worldwide.
Maui Pride is a gathering of like-minded individuals that are coming together as one ohana, celebrating being who you are no matter what your sexual identity. While at the same time, we raise money for post-secondary scholarships that go back into the Maui LGBTQ community. I am a straight ally who fully supports and advocates equal rights for everyone.
Pride is about being proud of yourself and who you are no matter what your background, ethnicity, gender, or in this case, sexual identity. We are all human and a community that should have equality for all!
I am a huge advocate of equality. Since I strongly believe in equality, I have made the decision to donate my time assisting students that are attending or would like to attend college and receive scholarship funding for their educational goals. I would like Pride to be celebrated multiple times per year–not just once a year–and I am on a mission to make that happen.
Being a part of the LGBTQ community absolutely does not mean you are gay. I’m heterosexual, but am in full support of the rights of LGBTQ individuals. I want people to understand that we can all love each other and unite no matter what our sexual orientation.
I was very proud when two of my dearest friends, Ben and Bob Kincaid, were joined together in a civil union in Oregon. But I believe I will be even more proud when I can see them married here on Maui.
Bar owner/magazine editor
When I think of pride, I imagine people standing strong in who they are, what they believe in and what they deserve. Celebrating pride is an opportunity to open minds, which is particularly important in a small community. I think in every community large and small, there’s always a struggle with being acknowledged, prejudice and ignorance.
The Gay Pride Parade in New York City was a very powerful experience, sometimes laughing out loud and other times crying. Participants ran the gamut from those in glittery and outrageous costumes to just everyday people marching in support.
Publisher, LGBT Resource Guide
We are based in Phoenix, Arizona where we publish a statewide LGBT Resource Guide. We currently produce a guide for Arizona, California, Hawaii, New Mexico and Nevada. Our main purpose is to promote tourism to these states as well as show of LGBTQ friendly businesses. We are very proud to highlight Hawaii to the mainland of U.S. and Canada.
It’s very nice to see a small community come together to celebrate diversity, especially a place the world craves to visit at least once. Pride is to be able to be myself and kiss my partner without any worries of being judged. One reason I am proud of owning my own business is not to worry about being discriminated against but to also highlight LGBTQ-friendly businesses.
Equality for all is our biggest struggle. In the past our community was silent but that has changed, especially with social media. We are more vocal than ever as we are tired of paying our bills, taxes, etc. but not treated equally. Basically we are tired of being second class citizens.
I’m totally out of the closet. One reason I started working in the gay media was so I could be open without the risk of being fired for being gay. Now I own a gay media company and am so proud of it.
We attend over 18 pride festivals in the mainland and Hawaiian Islands. And attend LGBTQ travel conferences that are international. I prefer the smaller community Pride Festivals because they are unique. There is no large parade or large parties but it’s a local celebration where you are family.
I am really looking forward to meeting all the local Maui people as well as the dinner buffet with luau. Especially looking forward to seeing all the friends we have created since starting the Pride Guide Hawaii. It is very nice to see a small community come together to celebrate diversity.
Boss Lady Entertainment promoter/Veni Vidi Vici Boutique owner
Maui pride means an opportunity for the gay community to come out and celebrate and share with the community that there is nothing different about being gay. We were all created equal, and should all be treated equal regardless of your sexual choices. Every culture, age and walk of life has a holiday or type of celebration, so why not celebrate Maui pride?
I’m a mother and business owner. A lot of my friends and the people I surround myself with are a part of the gay community. I’ve thrown numerous drag shows, opening up the community to a taste of the gay culture.
The biggest issue I would say is discrimination. America has created this facade that man and man/woman and woman should not be together. Honestly, to each its own. You don’t want someone telling you what car to drive or what to eat for dinner. So why should society judge people on whom they love? Being gay is a way people express “freedom of speech,” which is what every American is entitled to. Maui Pride just opens those doors for the few days.
UH Maui College Campus Security Chief
I’ve been in law enforcement or related occupations for the past 33 years. I love Maui Pride. It’s important to me because I had to spend most of my adult life hiding who I am. Now that I’m out, it’s fun to just be who I am.
We have spent many years being suppressed. When I was a police officer, some of the other officers were so homophobic that it became an officer-safety issue.
It’s even more important now to own who we are, especially in a small community. People can identify with us if they realize who we are–their next door neighbor, their doctor, their teacher or even the Campus Security Chief at their local college.
We need to stand up for ourselves, because no one can do it for us. I used to live in Denver and went to the pride parade several times. Of course, this was still back in the 1980s, when it could be dangerous. I haven’t been to a pride parade here yet, but this year that all changes.
One of the things I love most about my job is the ability to be inclusive, and it’s one of the things that I love about working at UHMC. The energy is very welcoming here and I feel very comfortable. People accept me as I am, and that makes me feel very proud.