Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
For most of the country, June is Pride month. While here on O‘ahu and Maui we coincide most of our Pride activities to the month of October (the same month when we celebrate LGBT History Month and also National Coming Out Day), our islands still honor the national celebration with some festivities. Kaua‘i and east Hawai‘i communities are hosting Pride parades and community events this month. Kona will hold Pride events in September.
Pride parades feature sparkly and noisy floats, drag queens with sashes and crowns propped up on cars, male dancers with abs of steel on the flatbeds of rainbow-decked trucks with booming music, community volunteers and company employees behind their organization’s banner to show support, elected officials and trolleys of seniors. Community events will feature food booths, entertainment including drag shows, informational booths and some kids’ activities. People who participate are diverse, they range in ethnic backgrounds, ages, religions, gender identity and sexual orientation. Some folks’ march, some ride and some watch. It is a celebration of the richness and strengths of the LGBTQ+ community.
I invite you to check out a Pride event in your town or when visiting another place. For our Hawai‘i events, see below. I also invite you to reflect on why Pride is so important.
Saturday, June 3, 2023
Parade: 9-10 a.m. Starts at Vidinha Stadium, ends at the historic County Lawn
Festival: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. County Lawn
Kaua‘i Pride started in 2019 and “promotes & celebrates peace, acceptance, and unity for everyone on our island regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, race, ethnicity, religious affiliation, or background.” Last year’s Pride included a proclamation from Mayor Derek Kawakami, and the Kaua‘i county employees participating in the parade and event.
Big Island Pride
Parade and Festival: Saturday, June 24, 2023.
The parade starts at the parking lot near the Mo‘oheau Bandstand, travels through downtown Hilo and ends back at Mo‘oheau. The festival will feature two stages with entertainment, including a drag king and drag queen performances, informational booths, vendors and activities for youth. Beverly Tese, who is involved with the planning efforts shares, “The parade and festival are not the only things the community focuses on.” The entire month of June features events that bring the community together. To learn more, people are encouraged to visit the Facebook page of Hawai‘i Island LGBTQ+ Pride.
In Kona, Pride events are from Sept. 15-17. Visit their website konapride.com for more information.
Parade and Festival: Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023
More information will be available at a later date.
Parade and Festival: Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023
Honolulu Pride will follow the theme: “Rooted in Pride: Homecoming.”
The event will feature diverse entertainment and a parade throughout Waikïkï, starting at Ala Moana Beach Park and end at the Waikïkï Shell.
Why Pride Matters
These celebrations of pride are important. They matter because it allows people to be visible and for people who are not ready to be out, to see themselves in others who are embraced and included in community. It is our responsibility to make sure Gosei and Rokusei feel they belong. Andrew Ogata, a local Yonsei is a member of the Hawai‘i LGBT Legacy Foundation Board. His work as the director of marketing at the Hawai‘i Health & Harm Reduction Center, which supports HIV care, prevention and education led him to become familiar with the specific issues associated with Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in openly discussing sexual orientation and related health matters. Seeing the negative impacts that shame, silence and isolation can have on people in our LGBTQ+ communities, he became involved with the Legacy Foundation and the planning of the Honolulu Pride Festival and Parade to ensure the board and Pride celebration were as diverse as the community it represented. Pride events are ways we can dedicate a month or an event to highlighting and celebrating the richness of our communities.
I invite you to celebrate. And I also encourage you to continue the celebration. Themed months are opportunities to lift up our communities and raise awareness. But one month is not enough. We just celebrated Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May. Our contributions and value as Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders exist all year. We as Asian Americans exist despite anti-immigration laws, Japanese American incarceration and anti-Asian hate. For the LGBTQ+ community, being visible and celebrating our own diversity and value as LGBTQ+ persons is something we have fought for since the Stonewall Riots led by transwomen of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera among others.
Pride is a tricky concept. I think many Japanese people in Hawai‘i were taught to be humble. “No ack tantaran” was something parents said to their children. Growing up in Hawai‘i also teaches you that people talk. They talk about neighbors, co-workers, relatives, and the family members of those same people. You learn quickly that Hawai‘i is a small place and news travels quickly. The goal was to do the right thing, not cause waves and definitely not stick out. Many of the values our Issei brought with them are ones of enduring suffering: haji (shame), gaman (quiet endurance), koko (filial piety), shikata-ga-nai (acceptance with resignation). These are the same values that allowed and fueled our Issei and Nisei to toil in sugar cane and pineapple fields and to maintain their culture and a sense of community. These values continue to be passed down to our Sansei, Yonsei, Gosei and Rokusei. For many Japanese and Okinawan people in Hawai‘i, we have benefitted from these values. We have also inherited the hurts and trauma that silence and suffering can cause.
For those in our LGBTQ+ community, difference can result in silence, shame, and isolation. For Japanese American young people who are LGBTQ+, this is compounded with cultural values that deepen the suffering. It means for many, especially our younger generations, the fear that being gay may result in rejection from friends and family. Rather than seeking our community and support, young people may hide or harm themselves. Seeing others like them in our community unashamed of who they are is important. Seeing others who are their teachers, school counselors, coaches, family and members of their churches and community groups embracing and lifting them up will matter.
It was surprising to me to learn of the Japanese value hokori or pride. I learned of this from a beautiful publication authored by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i called “Kachikan Values.” JCCH notes, “Hokori means pride, the antithesis of haji. It is a time of glory or triumph for a person.”
Our LGBTQ+ communities celebrate the triumphs we have had. From big wins such as securing the right to marry who we love to victories of simply existing despite our differences, I celebrate knowing that doing so is making waves and that I hope will smooth the pebbles on the shore that our Gosei, Rokusei and next generations will walk upon.
Trisha Nakamura is the Interim Dean of Student Services at the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa William S. Richardson School of Law, where she has served as the Director of Career Services. She is a volunteer board member of the Japanese American Citizens League — Honolulu Chapter, an organization advocating for civil and human rights. Prior to her work at the Law School, she worked as a Deputy Public Defender, defending the rights of those accused. As a Yonsei local Okinawan woman who was born and raised in Hawai‘i, she is committed to equity and social justice. Her respect for this place and people, and her appreciation of diversity, inform her desire to contribute to our community.