For the first time LGBT Pride Week was held in our Casco Viejo. It was an example of inclusion and diversity; of reflection and party. Of course, Las Clementinas was part of the extraordinary celebration.
Sometimes, words seem to be not enough. Sometimes a word can´t express the intense life that beats behind it.
I´m talking, on this occasion, about the word party.
I had thought to start this blog post with this sentence: “The LGBT Pride Week in the Casco was a great party.” Then I realized that I was falling short; It took a lot more to understand the magnitude of this unique week, of this incomparable party.
As you know, LGBT Pride Week is an event that takes place all over the world, with the intention of making the LGBT population and its multiple contributions to the community more visible in a positive way. But this event is almost always associated with its most sensual and festive part, leaving in the background, the more intellectual and reflective side. This year in Panama, we had academic forums, educational workshops, entrepreneurship seminars and job fairs. Nor was the artistic part neglected. That’s why we could enjoy photographic and artistic exhibitions, theatrical presentations, Stand Up comedy, LGBT cinema shows, tourist promotion, music concerts and social integration activities. There were 35 exhibitors and, as expected, Las Clementinas participated actively in the event, as we hosted the attractive seminar: The power of diverse tourism.
Everything started with the raising of the flag. Not one, not ten. More than 150 rainbow flags flooded the Casco with its colors of tolerance and diversity. The most important of all, the largest, was hoisted right in the Plaza de la Catedral, without a doubt the most significant space of our Casco Viejo and of Panama City. I´m not sure if you know the meaning of the 7 colors of the flag, but besides the obvious symbolism corresponding to a diverse community, these colors symbolize life (red), healing (orange), sunlight (yellow), nature (green), peace and harmony (blue) and spirit (purple or violet). And along with the symbolic raising of the flag, for the first time in Panama, the National Institute of Culture also illuminated its facade with the colors of the LGBT Pride Flag.
Maybe you’re wondering why the Pride Week is celebrated in June. Surely a little history will not harm us. June is not coincidence. It was in that month (exactly, June 28, 1969) when the police broke into the Stonewall Inn in New York. It was a gay bar located on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village. That night, the authorities entered with extreme violence, with the excuse that those present had suspicious behavior. The reaction was almost immediate. Disturbances, revolts and riots against the abuse of authority arose spontaneously. The protests lasted several nights and were the starting point for the momentum of the Gay Liberation Movement and the modern struggle for the rights of the LGBT community. Then came commemorations, events, parades. And since that distant night of June, this celebration has only grown.
The LGBT Pride Week in Panama closed with a parade that was the synthesis of the joy and festivity of all the activities. We all participated in the parade: visitors and locals, regulars and tourists. It was a peaceful evening, full of music, a colorful and harmonious party. To describe it better, I leave you with the word of a parade participant. His experience is more than eloquent:
This was the first Pride in which I participated. From weeks before, there was a lot of emotion for all the demonstrations that one could see (the flags all over the Casco, for example). I think that in addition, the frequent appearance of social issues, such as equal marriage, in the media and social networks, generated great enthusiasm in everyone. That day I went with several friends and the feeling of community was very strong, I think that was my favorite part. The place greatly enhanced that feeling. El Casco, because of how it is configured, feels like a very intimate place. Besides, seeing people dancing and waving on the balconies was very beautiful.
And while the party already saw its end, we look forward to the next LGBT Pride Week with real yearning.
It will undoubtedly be a new occasion to enjoy and learn in community, the deepest values of diversity and tolerance. A new opportunity also for us, at Las Clementinas, to reaffirm ourselves as an LGBT Allied space.
It will undoubtedly be another party. A great party.