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Over 200 vehicles participate in Ride4Pride

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IN celebration of  CNMI Pride Month, over 200 vehicles filled with community members gathered in Marpi for the start of the first ever Ride4Pride motorcade on Saturday.

Volunteers from multiple organizations, including Pride Marianas and Pride Marianas Youth, greeted participants, providing each vehicle with care packages stuffed with assorted goodies from sponsors and partners of the event.

From Marpi, the motorcade made its way around the island, with multiple wave stations set up to greet the motorcade participants and to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.

More than 200 vehicles lined up in Marpi on Saturday for the first ever Ride4Pride motorcade in celebration of CNMI Pride Month. Photo by K-Andrea Evarose S. Limol

“A lot of places around the world have cancelled Pride festivities, but here in the Marianas, we’re saying that there is a way to continue to celebrate Pride, and to do so in a way that is safe,” said Dr. Bobby Cruz, one of the volunteers for the event. “So we thought of a motorcade, and we’re enforcing appropriate social distancing, asking folks to remain in their cars throughout the motorcade.”

He added, “Pride Month is a celebration of solidarity. It has been a tradition that goes all the way back to the Stonewall riots in New York. While we’ve seen tremendous progress in the past 50 years for the advancement of LGBTQ rights, it’s still important because there’s still work to be done to ensure that marginalized groups, particularly our LGBTQ+ community, have an opportunity to participate in this world that they are a part of.”

He said, “In the Marianas, we have our brothers, our sisters, our family members who do identify as members of the LGBTQ community. We want to stand in solidarity with them to let them know that they’re loved [and] appreciated.”

Dr. Cruz said the LGBTQ  community appreciates their allies who aid in their efforts to “create a world where there are braver, safer places for everyone.”

Pride Marianas Youth founder Dr. Jennifer Maratita was also among the volunteers who worked diligently to bring the Pride Month celebration into fruition.

Preparations for the festivities began earlier this year, she said, but had to be modified due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.

She said there has been great progress in the Marianas with raising awareness about LGBTQ rights, especially with the youth, noting how a number of participants in the Ride4Pride motorcade included LGBTQ youth and their families.

But she said  there is still work to be done in the Marianas to raise awareness about the importance of being more inclusive.

Last week, the Torres-Palacios administration declared June as CNMI Pride Month to stand in solidarity with the Marianas LGBTQ community.

“We need to work together to create a loving and accepting environment, especially for our LGBTQ youth,” Lt. Gov. Arnold I. Palacios said.

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