Golfing for Gay Pride? Considering some of the outlandish events that have been associated with the Honolulu Gay Pride Festival, a golfing event sounds relatively tame.
But wait — it’s miniature golf, and that means participants can camp it up or play it as low key as they want to when the festival tees off this evening at the Honolulu Zoo lawn, where the Pride Festival hosts an Ohana celebration with a six-hole miniature golf tournament, barbecue and other festivities.
"We’re going to be on the lawn, so we just tried to think of something that was really ‘outside,’" said Arlei Patterson, vice president of the Honolulu Pride Festival Foundation. "We’re going to have gay-themed holes … decorated with the triangle and other symbols, and it will be very colorful."
HONOLULU GAY PRIDE PARADE AND FESTIVAL
3 to 8 p.m.: "A Night Under the Stars" Ohana Gathering. Miniature golf tournament and barbecue at the Honolulu Zoo lawn. A $10 donation is requested.
8 a.m.: Parade from Ala Moana Park along Ala Moana Boulevard and down Kalakaua Avenue to Kapiolani Park
ON THE NET:
Other events will be familiar to Pride Festival followers, with a parade from Ala Moana Park to Kapiolani Park on Saturday morning, followed by festivities at Ala Moana Park. More than 30 group and vendors are signed up for the parade and the festival, all in support of the gay-lesbian-transgender community.
"We are about putting on the festival, making sure our rights as a gay community are protected, and supporting our community," said Janel Dulan, president of the foundation. "And otherwise, we’ll just be having a lot of fun."
Besides golf, music will be a major attraction of the festival on Saturday. Members of Expose, the ’80s girls group, will be on hand to sign autographs at midday, and tickets to their concert that evening at the Blaisdell Arena will be raffled off.
As an indication of the inclusiveness of the festival, Dulan said several local artists performing in a range of styles have been invited to perform. One of those artists is Kuana Torres-Kahele of Hilo falsetto duo Na Palapalai. The duo was "honored" to be asked to perform at the festival, Torres-Kahele said in an e-mail.
"We both agree with the positive messages of acceptance and equality put forth by the festival," Torres-Kahele said. "We also would like to give a big mahalo to all our gay, lesbian, transgendered fans who have been such terrific supporters over the years."
For those who prefer an "American Idol" approach to their entertainment, the festival will conclude with a "Gay Pride Idol" contest — but don’t expect anyone to get up and chant "Pants on the Ground" in drag.
The foundation has been running preliminary contests for several weeks, weeding out all but the best singers. "They’ll be judged on best singer, best performer, that kind of thing," Patterson said.
This year’s festival kicked off last night with the announcement of the winners of two contests: for gays and lesbians there was the title of Mr., Miss and Ms. Gay Pride at stake; and for heterosexuals there was a contest for the top gay-friendly" fundraiser. Contestants competed by gathering donations for organizations that support AIDS patients and the Pride Festival Foundation.
"I think it’s a worthwhile cause," said Kassandra Engser, a social worker who was competing for the gay-friendly title, noting that she attended fundraising events organized by the foundation where she was the only heterosexual in the room. "That was a bit awkward," she said, "but I got along with everyone really well."
Kelsee Anderson, who works at the gay-friendly Waikiki bar Hula’s, was hoping to be named Mr. Gay Pride.
"I haven’t encountered any negativity at all," said Anderson, who came out two years ago. "I’ve even gone outside the normal fundraisers to ask (for donations), and everyone’s been very open-minded about it."
With Gov. Linda Lingle’s decision on a civil unions bill looming next week, one might expect the festival to carry some political overtones. But Dulan said the tax status of the Honolulu Pride Festival Foundation, as well as the nature of the festival itself, make this unlikely.
Gubernatorial candidate Neil Abercrombie is scheduled to make an appearance, as is Rep. Jon Riki Karamatsu, candidate for lieutenant governor, "but we’re not going to be telling people to vote for them," Dulan said.
"We don’t side with any issue or candidate," Dulan said. "Of course, as individuals we may have our feelings about a subject, but the main objective here is to throw a really good bash."