PEPPER KATANA – Welcome to Curacao Pride
The smiles, the hugs, the larger than life Rainbow flag, the masses of happy people, both LGBTQA2+ and allies, the LOVE!!! Welcome to Curacao Pride 2018
A stroll down memory lane
Oh my, how do I even begin to describe this beautiful event… At just six years old this event is changing lives in such a meaningful and simple way. Just by standing up for what you believe is right. In 2016 the Queen Emma Bridge, was decorated with rainbow flags for the first time showing massive support to the LGBTQA community.
The year after that the culture week coincided with Pride week and the whole island nearly had a conniption over the rainbow flags adorning the bridge. A day after the Pride walk all the flags were taken down, whereas the previous year the flags stayed up throughout the whole Curaçao Pride week celebration. This year the bridge was not decorated with colorful rainbow flags. Instead businesses around the island showed their support by putting up rainbow flags during the whole week! Some companies even went as far as to illuminate the facade of their building in rainbow colors to show their support. Even sitting here now writing this piece and thinking back about this show of support has me tearing up. I’m so glad I’m not in full drag right now. Otherwise I would probably look like a raccoon by the time I finished writing.
Chiki pero potente! (small but powerful)
Well, enough about the history and the mushy stuff. Curaçao Pride has come a long way. It is a celebration of life and love in its purest form. Visitors from abroad will feel this, as the community on the island is a small one. A small community filled with lots of individuals that have a big heart and that are working tirelessly to make life better for everyone. As a visitor you get swept into the celebration and the only thing you can do is hold on for the most pleasant ride of your life. From the moment everyone gathers for the opening walk on Thursday till the moment you drag your tired carcass home on Sunday, you will be swept up into a state of elation and euphoria!
Feeling the love and….Paparazzi!
This year my family and friends gathered at our home in Otrobanda and we all donned our PinkCuracao.com t-shirts. Well… all except me, I had a beautiful creation to wear that was gifted to me by the talented Sol Lee. AND… into the madness we went. I arrived at the Riffort in full drag to meet up with the crowd of happy people. And the amount of love I felt was crushing, enveloping, overwhelming, but most of all oh so so so beautiful! For the first time in my life I had an inkling of what celebrities must feel like when arriving for a red carpet. Cameras were flashing everywhere and of course plenty of people that wanted to have their picture taken with me. Time to Vogue and strike a pose!
Make way for the future
We then walked towards Wilhemina Plein in Punda where the official opening of the Pride took place. This year the best speech was held by Marnix van Thiel instead of our Prime Minister (whom was also in the crowd). What is noteworthy is that Marnix is 17 years old. When I was his age I could not have dreamt of a day that I was out and proud and supported. (yeah yeah I know and dinosaurs roamed the world still) This just goes to show how much life on my little island has changed. And the cherry on the icing was when he handed over the Marriage Equality Bill to Giselle McWilliams. A culmination of hard work by the dedicated team of Igualdat Korsou, Foko and Curaçao Gay Pro. Showing the drive that the community has to achieve equal rights. After the official part the music got amped up and we danced till 10 pm. With my make-up smeared, a happy heart and a big smile on my face I clicked my high heels and hitched a ride home.
Pride from West to East!
The following morning, I rolled out of bed and headed to Floris Suite Hotel to meet up with the group of people that were joining us on the Westpunt jeep safari organized by Curaçao Actief and PinkCuraçao. This daytime event gave visitors from abroad a chance to discover another part of the island during the Pride celebration. Later that night it was time for the first ever edition of the Rainbow Lounge on Tour. Normally held at Floris Suite Hotel, this year had us partying up a storm at Papagayo! They decked the place in Unicorns, and with performances by the ever-fantastic Tiffany Fantasia this party was one for the books! OMG I was glad I had not attempted to go to this party in drag. It would have been quite uncute. The heat was incredible, and I think I was teetering thanks to the amount of drinks I had had. Imagine having to walk on high heels too. Eek!
Never doubt your Pride party planners
Saturday had me running for some last-minute shopping for white pants for the White Party later that night. But first… let’s make a stop at the Drag U to the beach party at Moomba beach….. Ah I can still remember the music and of course the eye candy. Chilling on the beach with old and new friends was the best way to charge up for the part coming that night. And come the party did! The White Party this year was held at Club Spoonz. At first I was hesitant, I will admit, as the club has a somewhat notorious reputation, hence my last-minute shopping. However, I went and believe me when I say that this was such a cool party that I am hoping for a repeat next year! Meeting up with friends I met at the beach earlier and of course my lifelong partners in crime, I danced until the wee hours of the morning to the tunes of Gentz. After that was mandatory chow time to soak up the alcohol at a Truk’i pan.
That lands us on Sunday. I woke up and walked towards the Black & White catamaran to wave off the Navi.Gay.tion party. Not planning on joining the boat party this year I was persuaded last-minute to hop on board and join the last party of the Curaçao Pride celebration 2018. DJ Nena had us all swinging and enjoying the day out on one of the nicest ships in Curaçao heading towards Fuik beach. Having joined until the last moment I did not have a bathing suit with me. Fortunately, I made friends with 2 guys that had an extra pair. Time to jump in the water and enjoy and relax. Ah… the joy of just having time to be with my extended family. And trust me, if you ever visit you will soon feel like family too. Come once to Curaçao Pride and you will want to keep coming back. The warmth, the infectious joy and the memories will start calling your name to come join us.
Darling hop on a plane and come over… trust me you won’t regret being part of Curaçao Pride.
See you at the next one… hopefully!
Pepper Katana is drag queen with a big heart for the LGBTQA2+ community on the island of Curaçao. Being the first, if not only, professional drag queen on the small island she has made her mark by being a loving and artistic creation to inspire everyone to step forward and push, stretch and move boundaries. And, to be an example of accepting oneself.