The Creation of lgbTIQ PRIDE
By Joseph M. Hocog
Buenas yan Hafa Adai! My name is Joseph M. Hocog and for the past three years, I have spearheaded, through the support of the Tinian Mayor’s Office, the lgbTIQ PRIDE Events for members of the LGBTQ community on Tinian. My PRIDE experience is unique and this is my story.
It was 2017, the former Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas decided to host LBGTQ members for a barbecue at Kammer Beach. About 30 people showed, wore whatever rainbow-themed attire they had and mingled for a couple of hours. I was living on Saipan at the time and when I had seen the pictures and videos of that night, I thought: “Wow! The administration is putting an effort to acknowledge us!”. That same year, I moved back home and worked for Mayor San Nicolas as his Events Coordinator.
With the planning of the 2018 Pride Events, I had spent a great deal on how to create a group exclusive to Tinian. The final product: lbgTIQ PRIDE. The concept of this new group name is simple. Lgb represents the Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals- categories that are dominant on the island and TIQ being airport lingo for TINIAN. After reviewing it with the Mayor, the name was accepted and announced to the public.
On June 01, 2018, the Tinian Mayor’s Office held a Proclamation Ceremony acknowledging June as Pride month for Tinian, the first-ever in any administration on Tinian. More than 50 people attended the ceremony, showing full support of those in the LGBTQ community and later in the month, another momentous occasion would occur. Friday, June 29, over 100 people gathered at Kammer Beach Main Pavilion to participate in the first lgbTIQ PRIDE Celebration. At exactly 5:30 p.m. we gathered with our pride flags and banners and MARCHED around the pavilion in solidarity to our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ community. The key component of the Celebration was to announce to Tinian and to the world that WE ARE HERE AND WE ARE QUEER!
After such a successful and momentous event, the biggest question on everyone’s mind was: What’s in store for next year?
2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York, the definitive event that began the gay liberation movement. In my planning for the 2019 lgbTIQ PRIDE, this almost had to be the focus of our celebration. The year prior was meant to ANNOUNCE our presence, and so this year had to deal with ISSUES members of the LBGTQ community face on the daily. Unfortunately, due to several budget cuts and unforeseen circumstances, a lot of our planned events were denied leaving the end of the month celebration the only option.
The Marianas Visitors Authority had funded island signs for the three municipalities. For several months, the Tinian Leadership had debated the location of the Tinian sign and ultimately chose Taga Beach as its permanent residence. The location was the first issue but once the sign had been erected, what was to be painted on the letters became the next.
On June 01, 2019 lgbTIQ PRIDE members took the initiative to paint the letters of the Tinian sign the colors of the rainbow which led to the front page of the local newspapers and garnered international buzz. Another win for the PRIDE community. In that same location at the end of the month, I along with the lgbTIQ PRIDE committee organized for the first ever PRIDE Motorcade which had participants ride from Taga Beach along Broadway past several government offices and the local parish to our destination- the PRIDE Celebration. The evening was attended by more than 100 people and the program included motivational speakers, messages from the Leadership and performances from local LGBTQ talent. We ended the 2019 lbgTIQ PRIDE Celebration with a toast to all those involved with the Stonewall Riots and to everyone fighting for Gay Rights, then and now.
The lbgTIQ PRIDE name has gained the support and recognition of the residents of Tinian. There is more pride now than ever before.
Though my experience with PRIDE events is limited to Tinian and events held by the government, I am proud to say that I was a part of something. I am proud that there are people out there that wholeheartedly accept and appreciate us publicly. I am proud that we’ve broken whatever barriers that used to hold us back from being acknowledged. I am proud to be a gay man in the CNMI.
In recognition of Pride Month —a time to celebrate inclusion and diversity, while also recognizing the need to continue advocating for equal rights and opportunities for all— Marianas Variety has partnered with the Northern Marianas Humanities Council to celebrate diversity in our community. The submissions are from the Humanities Councils' Pride Talks writing contest. The Council is pleased to collaborate with Marianas Variety in sharing and publishing the winning submissions every Wednesday for the month of June. All the winning works will also be on display at the NMI Museum and presented at various Pride events throughout the month. For more information about how you can join the Council in celebrating Pride this year, check out nmhcouncil.org or follow the Council on Facebook or Instagram (@670humanities).
NMHC Pride Talks has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy Demands Wisdom. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this feature do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.