Aloha Maui Pride Festival celebrates island’s ‘diversity and inclusivity’

More than 500 attend event, which continues today

Gym co-owner Staci Fujimoto (left) congratulates Jason Dela Cruz after he wins a Maui CrossFit Extreme booth spin-the-wheel prize at Aloha Maui Pride Festival on Saturday. The CrossFit gym in Wailuku welcomes members of various ages and skill levels. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

KIHEI — A new nonprofit celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and supporters brought a little more aloha to the Valley Isle on Saturday with its first pride festival.

“The cool thing about our organization is that because we are called Aloha Maui Pride, we really take aloha into account — that’s who we are,” said Tiare Sua, a board member of the nonprofit. “We live in Hawaii, where aloha is used a lot, but people don’t really know what it is.”

Organizers said more than 500 people attended the Aloha Maui Pride Festival from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at VFW Hall in Kihei. A beach potluck and barbecue from noon to 6 p.m. today at the hall will cap daily local activities of Maui’s Pride Week, which began Oct. 6.

Filled with entertainment, vendor booths, educational tables and activities, the colorful festival Saturday drew people from various ages, races and backgrounds. “Diversity and inclusivity” was the celebration’s theme, Sua said.

Participant Dawn Lewis said she came from the west side and brought her dog, Pono, who’s 4 years old.

Makana Gavin puts the finishing touches on festive face-paint makeup for Leila Dphrepaulezz, 5, on Saturday at Aloha Maui Pride Festival in Kihei. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

“She loves driving in the car,” Lewis said. “I said, ‘Let’s go on an adventure.'”

Meredith Rider, another festivalgoer, said the event was lots of fun.

“I love it; it’s great” she said. “People can sometimes feel alone but then you come out to something like this.”

Hawaii Teachers Association, Kamehameha Schools Maui campus high school, GLSEN, Iao United Church of Christ, Maui Humane Society, Pacific Whale Foundation, ManCandy Productions and other groups were either at the event or showed support in the planning stages, organizers said.

The Kahului-based Aloha Maui Pride nonprofit organization was formed in March, said Malu Derkindern, committee and volunteer coordinator. The group has three board members, about 10 to 12 committee members and nearly 100 volunteers.

Meredith Rider was decked out with pride sunglasses and temporary tattoos. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

“We’ve been meeting every two weeks for the last half year,” Derkindern said. “It’s beautiful how this all came together.”

Sua, who leads Maui AIDS Foundation’s transgender project, said her volunteer work with Aloha Maui Pride is focused on bringing people of all backgrounds together. It’s also rooted in Hawaiian principles, said Sua, who is Native Hawaiian.

“It’s all about reconnection with community, bringing back LGBT and making sure people recognize mahu, mahu wahine, mahu kane, aikane, nonbinary, transgender, everything, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “If you come, you show your aloha, you show your love.”

Derkindern agreed.

“Everyone’s welcomed, basically.”

Dawn Lewis (right) checks out a photo taken by Meredith Rider on Saturday at the Kihei festival. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

For information on Aloha Maui Pride, visit www.alohamauipride.org.

* Kehaulani Cerizo can be reached at kcerizo@mauinews.com.

Emcee Kathy Collins (right) talks with Shea Derrick and Full Flavor as the cover band gets ready to perform Saturday in Kihei. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo

Festivalgoers check out Maui Humane Society's booth Saturday at Aloha Pride Maui in Kihei. The Maui News / KEHAULANI CERIZO photo


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