Bahamas Gay Pride - Freeport Gay Pride

Celebrating Gay Pride in the Bahamas

Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach, Grand Bahama
••• Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach, one of most gay-friendly resorts in the Bahamas. copyright Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach

Although often thought of as part of the Caribbean, the Bahamas is an archipelago comprising roughly 700 islands that's situated in the Atlanta Ocean, less than 70 miles east of the Florida coast. The city of Freeport (population 27,000), which is on Grand Bahama Island had been the planned site for a Bahamas Gay Pride celebration in September 2014, is due east of West Palm Beach. Sadly, after organizers received death threats, the event was cancelled, and there are currently no plans to bring back the event, although one can imagine a time in the hopefully not-too-distant future that the Bahamas might be able to hold a Gay Pride celebration without such a negative, bigoted reaction.

The inaugural Bahamas Gay Pride, known as Freedom Weekend Pride in Paradise, had been planned to take place over Labor Day Weekend, from Friday, August 29, through Monday, September 1, at the all-inclusive Viva Wyndham Fortuna Beach, which was even offering special Pride Packages that included air and ground transportation. The Viva Wyndham does remain one of this island country's most LGBT-welcoming hotels and is well worth considering if you're planning a trip here.

There were several Pride-related parties and gatherings set for the weekend, including a White Party, Foam Party, Beach Party, Pajama Party, a Pride boat cruise, and two drag pageants. The event was being organized by SASH Bahamas, a nonprofit organization with a mission to help fight the spread of STDs and HIV by "addressing behaviors and attitudes within the Bahamas."

As has been the case with several other island nations in this part of the world, homosexuals have received poor treatment, historically, in the Bahamas - this is a fairly conservative nation when it comes to social issues, and a number of incidents involving discrimination and even violence against lesbians and gay have taken place over the years.

It wasn't entirely surprising that the announcement of a Pride Celebration in the country would receive a good deal of backlash. On the other hand, there has been plenty of progress, with consensual same-sex relations having been legalized in 1991, and openly LGBT residents permitted to serve in the Bahamas armed forces.

The nation clearly still has a way to go, however, and there are still no anti-discrimination laws in place, nor are same-sex couples legally recognized.

Bahamas Gay Resources

Given the spotty, if at times downright difficult, treatment gays and lesbians have received in the Bahamas, the country does not have an overwhelming number of online or print resources detailing gay-friendly businesses. It was hoped this first Bahamas Gay Pride would help get the ball rolling, and perhaps eventually, if a new event is planned, things will continue to move in a more open and accepting direction. One very helpful article on the country appears at GlobalGayz.com, outlining manner in which LGBT communities have been treated in the Bahamas over the years. One very helpful political and social online resource is Bahamas LGBT Equality Advocates, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Nassau. For general tourism information on Freeport and Grand Bahama, visit the official Islands of the Bahamas tourism office's Grand Bahama Island website. And also be sure to check out Margot Weiss's helpful Bahamas Travel Guide, in the About.com Caribbean Travel section.