June is CNMI Pride Month
The CNMI joined the rest of the world last Wednesday in celebrating the month of June as Pride Month, with a proclamation signing at the Minachom Atdao Pavilion in Susupe that was witnessed by members of the CNMI’s LGBTQIA+ community, families, friends, and allies.
Fr. Michael Linden of the Society of Jesus, Dr. Jennifer Maratita, and inspirational speakers Philip C. Aldan and Roberto Santos, joined Gov. Ralph DLG Torres in signing the proclamation before members and supporters of Pride Marianas Youth and other members of the community.
The theme of Pride Month this year is “Pride in Paradise – Rise Above, Lead with Love.”
In line with the occasion, the pavilion was decorated with a motley of colorful and bright flags of the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.
The proclamation states that “every month and every year is the right time to shut the door on prejudice, discrimination, and ignorance. …We choose love that sees no bounds. We Rise Above, And Lead with Love.”
Dr. Jennifer Maratita, who is a co-founder of Pride Marianas Youth, a volunteer grassroots organization of family, friends, allies and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, said that Pride Month is near and dear to her heart. “My husband and I are proud parents of a child who identifies as transgender. There have been many struggles over the years and there will be more challenges to come. However, today, we celebrate. Today we are proud,” she said.
One of the inspirational speakers, Aldan, recounts that his story “is on the brighter side of others, but there are still so many people out there who are struggling to come out.”
Santos described pride as many things—“It is protest, it is fight, it is deep. It is standing up, and it is, yes, celebration. This month is for us.”
After the signing, Torres said he has always been a great supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community “and I thank you for everything you’ve done. …I know that we have a long way to go, absolutely. But we also got to acknowledge we have gone so far, by coming out accepting everyone that we can, and that it’s okay.”
Torres was the first CNMI governor to proclaim Pride Month back in 2016 and held the first virtual proclamation in 2020 due to COVID-19.