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Dominican Republic Hosts Its First-Ever Caribbean Pride

by Jill Gleeson
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Sunday Sep 3, 2017

For the the first time ever, the Dominican Republic will host its own Pride Festival. Caribbean Pride 2017 (September 16-23) promises to be not only historic, but also a seriously sexy time, thanks to its host, the luxe, adults-only playtime palace CHIC Punta Cana.

Events will include drag performances, blowouts with world-class DJs spinning, a comedy night, culinary and mixology classes, wine tastings and fitness activities. And, of course, plenty of time for lazing by a glorious pool in that sultry Caribbean sun, sipping cocktails, hooking up or just calming down in a world away from stress and strain. But there's a point to all that partying, too.

We're Here, We're Queer

The Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, its neighbor to the west, is primed for Pride. LGBT rights have been slow coming to the nation, thanks in part to its ardent Catholicism. The gay rights movement is in its early days, making promoting Pride's self-affirming, celebratory and defiant message more important than ever.

"We think the entirety of Caribbean Pride week, the first of its kind, will be a big step in fostering a sense of pride and celebration of the LGBT community," says Christine Jamieson, Corporate Director of Marketing for Blue Diamond Resorts, the parent company of CHIC and the festival's organizer. "It's an inaugural celebration and welcoming experience that we look forward to continuing for years to come... to continue spreading messages of diversity and inclusivity."

Progress Marches On

While traditionally the Dominican Republic has shown little love for the LGBT community, times are changing, if slowly. A ban against gay marriage remains in place and there are no protections against discrimination in housing, education, healthcare or the workplace. Homosexuality is legal, however, "which sets the country apart from many of its Caribbean neighbors," according to American watchdog group Human Rights First.

The 2013 appointment of Wally Brewster as American ambassador to the Dominican Republic has helped. He and his husband are proudly out, and Brewster has overseen the dispersal of funds to gay rights groups as part of the State Department's goal to advance LGBT equality worldwide. Last year, the country's first LGBT chamber of commerce debuted; Parliament has yet to table the recent draft of an anti-discrimination bill.

Fun in the Dominican Sun

While there's no doubt Caribbean Pride will help continue the country's conversation about LGBT pride and prejudice, the event itself will be affirmative and a damn good time. "We are very excited about our talent line-up and guests definitely shouldn't miss Toronto's own Female Delusionist, Miss Conception and New York DJ, Johnny Dynell," says Jamieson. "Miss Conception has sold out shows all over the world - she is truly an international drag sensation and is known for her live singing performances, comedy acts and fun costume changes."

"DJ Johnny Dynell has three decades of experience spinning thousands of nights both in the States and overseas. We're also thrilled to have Dj Citizen Jane joining in the celebration," continues Jamieson. "She recently played multiple sold-out shows during New York Pride Week and she's incredible."

There'll also be some posh excursions, like a cruise aboard a yacht to a secluded beach and a jaunt via private car to a spectacular snorkeling and sunning spot. That's if you can bear to leave CHIC, with its gourmet restaurants and oxygen bar, Royal Spa and glass-walled mermaid pool. The rooms are just as smart and swanky, tricked out with mood lighting, sleek, modern decor, 24-hour concierge and room service and pampering options like swim-out suites. You can enjoy poolside digs just as spectacular by booking a cabana with goodies like a flat-screen television, mini bar and butler service.

All this, plus a chance to help usher LGBT equality forward in a country still taking its first steps toward it? Sounds like Caribbean Pride 2017 just might be the best one of the year.

Jill Gleeson is a travel and adventure journalist based in the Appalachians of Central Pennsylvania. Find her on Facebook and Twitter at @gopinkboots.


  • , 2017-08-18 10:43:23

    What do they mean by "the first ever Caribbean Pride"? There’s several Pride Celebrations in the Caribbean! Puerto Rico has two, Cuba has about three, and has hosted the Latin American Pride celebration several times, and some of the other Minor Antilles have their own Pride celebrations. If this is a new, Pan-Caribbean celebration, sure, it might be the first. But by no means is this the first ever Caribbean pride!

  • Anonymous, 2017-08-19 09:53:45

    To clarify, it’s the Dominican Republic’s first-ever Caribbean Pride.

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