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, organizers say.
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. It was illegal at the time 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 May 31 at 10 p.m. and ends June 1 at 2 a.m. 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. Food and drinks and, to add to the dazzle, glow-in-the-dark face painting and LED-lit batons will all be for sale. Entrance is free, but partiers will pay $5 for shuttle service from Cramer’s Park to Point Udall. No parking at Point Udall nor coolers are 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.
June 6 at 6 p.m. is the opening of a Pride art exhibit at 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 community’s struggles. The art center will also host a discussion, Queerness in the Caribbean, chaired by Joseph Bess, at 6 p.m. on June 21.
June 8 is the second annual St. Croix Pride Parade, which will 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.
On 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 between LGBTQ+ and West Indian culture. Performances both nights begin at 7 p.m. 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 on June 20 at 10:30 a.m. led by Adventures in Diving STX on King Street in Frederiksted.
The grand finale is a beach barbecue at Sand Castle on the Beach on June 22 starting at 3 p.m. 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.
Visit stxpride.org for prices and other information.