Things heat up in the month of June across the country as the temperature rises and people trade their winter layers to get ready for a season of summer activities in the sun. In cities large and small things get a whole lot more colorful, too, as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities everywhere gear up to celebrate pride.
Pride as a commemoration of alternative sexuality has roots that go all the way back to pre-Nazi Germany, but people around the world credit the Stonewall riots on the streets of New York City in June of 1969 as the beginning of the gay rights movement and the catalyst for the annual summer festivities.
In Maui’s open-minded, laid-back atmosphere the gay community has been thriving for more than three decades, primarily in the vicinity of Kihei.
“Maui is a very liberal place,” said Rodney Mager of Both Sides Now, a local gay pride organization. “This is a great place for pride to grow and expand.”
“Alternative” nights happen weekly at bars all along South Kihei Road while a handful of websites direct interested locals and visitors to hot hang-outs, beaches and restaurants where they can meet and socialize with Maui GLBTs. Monthly Manhattan Mama drag shows at the MACC draw a mixed crowd of the local population.
But June brings an opportunity for a more flamboyant celebration of gay pride and awareness to the campaign for equal rights, as well as a chance for the Maui Aids Foundation to do some much needed fundraising and outreach.
John Herberger heads up the prevention and education team at the MAF and had a big hand in planning this weekend’s festivities. In addition to the traditional fun stuff—food, prizes, costumes and hours of hot and heavy dancing to the beats of popular local DJ Michael Fong—Herberger’s planning a trivia game to test Maui’s knowledge of gay pride and health.
As much as he likes to throw a good party, Herberger is serious about educating the local community about HIV and AIDS. He’s taking this opportunity to reach out to GLBTs in Maui with information on HIV testing and prevention and pass out new and improved safer-sex kits that he says makes staying protected more fun. There will also be a display on a very exciting new program that the MAF will be able to offer very soon. By the end of July the non-profit organization will be certified and equipped to offer rapid testing for HIV and reduce the results waiting period from three weeks to 20 minutes.
The cost of admission and proceeds from dinner sales earlier in the evening will benefit MAF and their effort to offer HIV education and testing to everyone on Maui.
Mostly, however, the evening is designed to bring the GLBT community on Maui together for a night of dining, dancing and mingling in the name of gay pride. MTW