In a historic first, the CNMI government linked up with local organizations for the first-ever CNMI Pride Walk last Friday at the Carolinian Utt in Garapan, which saw the participation of more than 200 individuals walking to the Paseo de Marianas.
The event also saw the Pride Week proclamation signing by Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and the unveiling of a rainbow-colored Pride crosswalk between the Paseo de Marianas and Fiesta Resort & Spa Saipan, which the Pacific Century Fellows have adopted to maintain.
Pride Week will be held this week; it starts today, June 24, and will end on Sunday, June 30.
In signing the Pride proclamation, Torres urged the CNMI community to show respect for one another, especially during difficult times for the LGBTQ+ community.
LGBTQ+ stands for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgeder, queer, or questioning. The plus encompasses a list of other identities that fall under the queer umbrella.
A key highlight of both the Pride Walk and Pride Week signing last Friday was the keynote speech of Thia Seman, who spoke about being afraid to tell her parents about her sexual orientation, deciding to tell a classmate first, then overcoming her fears and eventually telling her parents about the matter.
Pride Marianas president and LGBTQ+ advocate Frankie Elliptico thanked all of Friday’s volunteers.
“I am extremely happy about the turnout and the presence of our government officials,” Elliptico added.
LGBTQ+ individual still face many difficulties, prejudices, and violence. Data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirms that nationally, LGBTQ+ individuals are targets of violent hate crimes more often than any other minority.
Research shows that LGBTQ+ youth in the United States are nearly as twice to be bullied, called names, harassed, physically assaulted, or discriminated at school, work, and in their communities compared to non-LGBTQ+ counterparts.
This year also marks the 50th year of the Stonewall uprising, which helped propel the movement for equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community.
Torres previously signed a proclamation back in 2016 that also proclaimed June 24 to June 30 as CNMI Pride Week.