By Juan McCartney
Nassau Guardian Broadcast Editor
FREEPORT, Bahamas -- A gay pride event that started on Friday on Grand Bahama and was supposed to continue through Tuesday, was cut short as members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community abandoned it “out of fear” of repercussions from irate members of the public, even as police remained on high alert for any signs of trouble, Victor Rollins, one of the organizers of the event told The Nassau Guardian on Sunday.
Rollins said he received death threats on his Facebook page after posting pictures of event attendees holding gay pride flags along with Bahamian flags on a beach yesterday.
Rollins said the backlash came quickly starting on Thursday after organizers issued a press release in support of the event.
He said local talk shows were a particular source of vitriol, with many claiming God would judge The Bahamas for allowing a gay pride event to take place and some people wishing harm on those involved and members of the LGBT community more generally.
He said that no one from the Bahamian LGBT community who said they would come to the event, and even those who were to be honoured at the event, showed up.
“Everyone is scared,” he said. “But that’s normal for this type of thing.”
Rollins said about 11 people outside of the organizers came to the event, all foreigners.
The Bahamas Pride Weekend is “designed to inspire, educate and celebrate the diverse Bahamian LGBT community”, according to a statement from the event organizers.
The statement said there were several gay pride related parties and events set for the weekend including a beach party, pajama party, a gay pride boat cruise, and two drag pageants.
Rollins said the perception of the event was not the reality. Though the website claimed there would be a gay pride parade, Rollins said that was never supposed to take place outside the private resort and ultimately didn’t happen.
“The numbers just weren’t there, so it didn’t make sense,” he said. “But if you check with police, you would see that we never even applied for a permit for a march.”
He added that a health and testing fair to get people to know their HIV/AIDS status was also canceled.
“The event happened. It was a private event at a private resort. All that stuff about marching and a parade, that was never the issue. It was all supposed to happen in a private area. No Bahamian from the LBGT community showed up. The concept is not the way it was going to be perpetrated. It was supposed to be co-ordinated with different ministries, but all of that was canceled.
“As an event planner, we created with SASH Bahamas to do an event with the LGBT community. I personally feel discriminated against in my own country, that an event my company, Vic’s Entertainment, legitimately organized with the resort and several ministries and notable organizations fell through because of people’s misconceptions.”
Royal Bahamas Police Force Superintendent David Deveaux informed The Freeport News on Sunday that the Grand Bahama Police Department was carefully monitoring the event.
“The officers from the East Lucaya Station and the mobile unit are checking the area to ensure that nothing out of the ordinary happens as a result of the event,” said Deveaux before it was clear that the remainder of the itinerary was cancelled.
“I wish to emphasize that we do not want to interfere but we thought it prudent to take a proactive step. No contact has been made with the police by the organizers.
“No one has said anything to us about the event but we intend, however, to keep on the watch because we just want to make sure we are in a position to prevent any possible problems.”
Rollins said he intends to file a complaint with police about the reported death threats on Monday.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian