Freedom

Lei Honolulu Pride

Shot from the street level of Honolulu Pride, a photographer’s uplifting photo essay demonstrates why Hawaiʻi’s LGBTQ community members are her heroes, (s)heroes, and everyone in between.

Text and photos by Marie Eriel Hobro

Pride is a celebration that never ceases to amaze me. Simply participating in its festivities serves as a form of resistance against the evils of homophobia. Last year’s Honolulu Pride parade was no different when it transformed Kalākaua Avenue and the Waikīkī Shell into places of solace for the LGBTQ community.

Nearly every generation of the community and its supporters were in attendance on October 21, 2017. Despite the sweltering heat, attendees walked down the streets of Waikīkī dressed in colorful, glitzy ensembles as they cheered and waved rainbow flags in the balmy air. Radiant drag queens arrived dressed to the nines, and gender non-conforming teens came with their mugs beat to the gods and their heels high. It was reminiscent of other Pride parades I’ve attended in California, but this one held much more meaning for me, because it was my little sister’s first.

When she arrived mid-parade, my friends made the moment truly memorable by pulling her up onto a moving float as it rolled along the route. In that moment, nothing mattered but the look of pure bliss on my sister’s face. That act of kindness represented all that is special about Pride—the strong camaraderie it brings out in strangers and the encouragement it gives youth to celebrate themselves and their fellow peers. As I watched her cheer next to a float packed with drag queens and Andrew Christian models with a Pride flag hanging off her neck, I remembered the day that she came out to me as bisexual when she was fourteen years old. I found it incredible that she knew exactly who she was at such a young age.

The Pride flag that hung down her back like a cape seemed fitting, since in many ways my little sister is my hero. She may be the youngest in our family, but her strength and courage inspires me to be better every day. This is the same for the rest of my loved ones in the LGBTQ community. As a straight ally, I can never truly know what they experience, but what I do know is how much they inspire me with their bravery and unapologetic individuality. The people of this community have helped me find myself again and heal from my own traumas in so many different ways and in my work, I do my best to honor them by showing others the light that they bring to the world. This collection of photos, along with other projects I’ve done, is another ode to this beautiful community that I look up to with great respect.

Lei Honolulu Pride

Lei Honolulu Pride

Lei Honolulu Pride

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