The “Pride at the Park” event that capped the monthlong celebration of Pride Month at the colorfully decorated NMI Museum across the Sugar King Park in Garapan drew hundreds from different walks of life last Tuesday night despite the late afternoon and early evening downpour.
Event-goers, from toddlers with their parents to older couples, young adults, children, and adults of all age ranges and sexualities came out in support of the last event celebrating the month of June as Pride Month in the CNMI, and were treated to performances, raffles and giveaways, art exhibits, and educational resources.
Walter Mendez, who works for the Public School System’s Office of Student Support Services with the Mental Health Team under Project Haligi Aware, said the event was a collaboration among them and the Pride Marianas Youth organization, T-Project, and Pride Marianas.
“We’re just trying to share and spread awareness of LGBTQ love and respect and equity and try to spread that message of respect for all diversities, sexual orientations, and genders, and identities,” he said.
He acknowledged that there are so many youth who are still questioning or seeking to identify themselves “and we want them to know that they are loved, and they have a community that accepts who they are, despite any of the differences that we might be seeing within ourselves.”
Pride Marianas chair Roberto Santos said the turnout was good despite the rain and that a lot of people had already been at the event since 5:30pm.
Zenn Ichiro Tomokane, an intern for the summer program at PSS Mental Health and a student at Marianas High School, said that a lot of what LGBTQ+ youth go through deals with mental health and it’s important that they know we’re here and that we’re here for the community as well.”
The Noncommunicable Disease Bureau and Infectious Disease Program of the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. was present for free health screenings and providing health information.
Dr. Lily Muldoon, CHCC Medical Director of Public Health, who described herself as an ally of the LGBTQ community, said she is “blown away” by the success of Pride Month. “It has made me proud to be a member of the CNMI community and really how CHCC has reached out to support the outreach efforts has been something that I support and I’m particularly proud of.”
Other educational outreach booths included the CNMI Youth Affairs Office, the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, PSS Haligi Aware, and the Division of Youth Services.
There were also small businesses and food stalls.