Pride Faces Down Hate in STX Parade

Enthusiastic opponents of discrimination and supporters of equality and dignity for everyone lined the Pride Parade route in Frederiksted Saturday. (Photo provided by Johanna Bermùdez-Ruiz and Cane Bay Films)
Enthusiastic opponents of discrimination and supporters of equality and dignity for everyone lined the Pride Parade route in Frederiksted Saturday. (Photo provided by Johanna Bermùdez-Ruiz and Cane Bay Films)
St. Croix Police Chief Winsbut McFarlane, who oversaw the police presence at Saturday's parade, greets a participant. (Photo provided by Johanna Bermùdez-Ruiz and Cane Bay Films)
St. Croix Police Chief Winsbut McFarlane, who oversaw the police presence at Saturday’s parade, greets a participant. (Photo provided by Johanna Bermùdez-Ruiz and Cane Bay Films)

The weather was great, the smiles wide and rainbow flags flew in Frederiksted Saturday when St. Croix Pride held its first Pride Parade in Frederiksted. The point, if anyone is unaware, was to celebrate and promote equality and respect for the LGBT community.

The crowd on Strand Street was mostly supportive, happy and enthusiastic and groups like AARP and Women’s Coalition of St. Croix spoke out in support before the event.

Revelers enjoy the parade. (Photo provided by Johanna Bermùdez-Ruiz and Cane Bay Films)
Revelers enjoy the parade. (Photo provided by Johanna Bermùdez-Ruiz and Cane Bay Films)

“AARP’s unwavering commitment to the LGBT community reflects our core belief in the dignity, worth and potential of every individual. We reject discrimination based on a person’s age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. We see diversity as a source of strength. For us, LGBT communities are a vital part of the quilt of American life.V.I. police,” V.I. AARP said in a statement last week.

“Let’s show our support for inclusivity and acceptance. We are all contributors to creating the positive change we wish to see for our islands,” Women’s Coalition leaders said in a statement too.

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Not all was positive. Some spewed hatred on social media in the days before the event. A person on a Facebook page labeled as that of Shelly Natural Smith urged residents to “gun them down,” which led to an investigation by both the V.I. Police Department and the FBI. Around the corner at the Frederiksted Fish Market, a number of people shouted bigoted epithets.

But on Strand Street, peace love and tolerance were the rule of the day.

Pride Parade works its way down Strand Street in Frederiksted Saturday. (Photo provided by Johanna Bermùdez-Ruiz and Cane Bay Films)
Pride Parade works its way down Strand Street in Frederiksted Saturday. (Photo provided by Johanna Bermùdez-Ruiz and Cane Bay Films)
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