United & Strong congratulates St Lucian winner of Gay Pageant!

United and Strong Inc officially congratulates Miss Decembre Snow on winning the Miss Gay Caribbean USA pageant 2012. Miss Snowe, the performance persona of a brilliant Saint Lucian male artiste, faced eight talented contestants from across the Caribbean and the USA, at the September 29 pageant in New York City, but sparkled through every segment.

Although the pageant is organised by Saint Lucian, Marlon Gervais, this is the first time a contestant from Saint Lucia has won, or to have travelled from the island to compete. In the past competitors have all been Saint Lucians living in the US. Gervais says, “The Saint Lucia community up here (USA) is always very excited. And they are happy that a Saint Lucian finally won and that he won deservingly. “

This year also represented the first time that United and Strong Inc. has sponsored a candidate for an event of this kind and the organisation applauds the commitment and drive that elevated her above the field of ambitious competitors.

Co-Executive Director Kenita Placide says it was an easy decision for United and Strong to approach Miss Snowe to represent St Lucia in this year’s pageant. “I remember being up in a time zone 6 hours ahead of Saint Lucia waiting on Skype to ensure all plans was in place to make a safe passage for Decembre Snow. Today we smile as if overcoming a small challenge but in our line of work, it is a big hurdle”.

U&S recognised the enthusiasm many years ago as this young performer participated in regional pageants, and encouraged the development of their talent, providing what little opportunity it could to perform here.  Stigmatised by many, the discrimination did not break this resilient spirit, who, through many hurtful situations, continued to reach for excellence.

There has been an overwhelmingly positive public response to Miss Snowe bringing home the crown, and Mr. Gervais notes, “That’s also a good thing for the island, as it shows Saint Lucia can be a little more tolerant.”

This hope for a change in attitudes in Saint Lucia towards lesbian, gays, bisexuals and transgendered people have been at the core of United and Strong’s work for the past eleven years. Since beginning with the International AIDS alliance to reach the ‘down low’ but high risk HIV/AIDS demographic, U&S has pushed it to the next level working with the AIDS Action Foundation and most recent with the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance. However this continues to be a work on progress in Saint Lucia as this country remains replete with stigma and discrimination.

This has affected the visibility of this population in different parts of the world over many centuries, demonstrating only that criminalising adult same sex consensual relationships usually causes more damage to our society by forcing people to live a lie. However while the discrimination pushes some ‘down low’, others rise to the top.

Miss Snowe’s achievement is a reminder of the heights we can attain given the opportunity. United and Strong is happy to publicly lavish the well-deserved praise for a job most excellently done, on behalf of the community and promises to continue to do our part to continue to safeguard their rights as we work towards a more tolerant and progressive Saint Lucia.

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