Bob Kincaid has the perfect voice for the hospitality industry—soothing yet full of energy, straight to the point yet charming. “We can’t complain,” he says about the sunny life on Maui. “We’ve got papaya, lilikoi, lemon trees. A view of the ocean and mountains—I mean, if a couple of palm trees were a little lower …” he says with a laugh.
Kincaid (on the right, throwing the shaka and holding the banner above) works as product manager at Maui Sunseeker, a gay-owned and -operated LGBT resort, full time, and on the side, devotes himself to making Maui Pride bigger, better, and more giving-back than ever.
Kincaid and his partner Ben moved to Maui in 2011, only a month after their friends posed the idea.
“We wanted to move somewhere where we could start our lives together,” he said, and Maui sounded perfect; in fact, they had just returned from a trip to the island in celebration of their domestic partnership, a relationship for which Kincaid had come out to his parents a second time (the first, when he was 16, was received poorly, but this time, they warmed quickly to Ben).
Back in Portland, where Bob is from, the two were involved in almost every organization imaginable.
They decided when they got to Maui to just pick one main outlet. The couple moved to a little 450-square-foot condo in Wailuku with a beautiful view and began putting out sensors.
Early on, after attending a meeting for the main local gay organization, which headed Maui Pride, they found the group was eager to hand off responsibility for the event, or shut it down all together.
“In 2011, it had been a mess with the liquor commission. They were saying that they didn’t have anybody who wanted to do it,” Kincaid says. “Ben and I, we were kind of shocked. We were like, you’ve got to have Pride. It’s a way of looking back at what has been accomplished over the years.”
It doesn’t hurt that the duo are socialite savvy.
“Ben and I, we love to be around people. When we moved here, we tried to make friends fast, and it worked out amazingly.” Between that charm and a lot of determination, they picked up Pride, and it’s been growing ever since.
In 2012, they revamped the formula and chose a new date for the weekend-long event.
“My goal is that I’d like to go to as many Prides as I can,” says Kincaid of one reason why they chose the first weekend of October, a date very different than most. “It’s a beautiful time on Maui, and it gives people on the mainland time to save up money to come.”
Their new model looked like this: a kick-off party Friday night; a community festival including food, a beer garden, booths, and music followed by a dinner party and after-party bash on Saturday; and a Sunday morning brunch.
Attendance increased by 50 percent from 2012 to 2013, and they have big plans for 2014: Frenchie Davis will be performing at the dinner; they added a one-day film festival on Thursday that will include Fagbug and short film Prinsesa, with both directors in attendance; and it all kicks off with a glitter party. Sponsors include Maui Visitor Bureau and Gay Days, which holds gatherings at places like Disneyland.
While Maui has a pretty large gay community, “there’s really no gay life here,” he says. “I think that’s why we wanted to put our heart and soul in a Pride organization that the county could love and support.”
So in addition to planning a huge weekend event, they have extended Maui Pride to include an event every month, from hikes to beach gatherings. They also began a swanky fundraiser dinner, the Lava Soiree, with all proceeds going to a scholarship for a student who is LGBT or raised by LGBT parents. The first year, they raised $2,500; in 2014, they raised $15,000.
While Kincaid only has time to get to the beach about once a month, he’s lucky to have his own Maui Pride event to attend this month: Big Toys Little Beach, a chance to gather for brunch, then head to Little Beach with your biggest and brightest inflatable in tow.
“Look for our group by the large rainbow flag,” the site explains. Anyone is welcome to attend. Says Kincaid, “We’re a rainbow state, we should have awesome Prides here anyway.”