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Panama City Pride 2019

Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America

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Love is love! We were proud to be part of Panama City’s annual Pride Parade this year (known locally as World Pride Panama), which coincided with our most recent trip to one of Central America’s most charismatic countries.

Growing in size and popularity each year, World Pride Panama (celebrating its 15th year) takes place around Panama City’s historic Casco Viejo area. Panama City is always vibrant and colourful but even more so at this time of year, as the city becomes awash with colour, marking the start of a huge LGBTQ celebration. People from all nationalities and every walk of life take part, with thousands taking part in the parade, with even more watching and supporting from the sidelines.

Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post

It was a particularly special Panama Pride to witness this year as it commemorated 50 years since the clash between police and patrons of the Stonewall Inn that sparked the modern LBTQ rights movement.

We were fortunate enough to be part of the actual Panama Pride Parade this year (2019), as we joined the British Embassy in Panama’s team, alongside another 40 or so embassy staff members and British citizens and their partners living in Panama. We all wore matching T-shirts emblazoned with the motto ‘Love is Great’ (relating to their overarching ‘Great’ Britain campaign). In-keeping with the caring theme of the day, it was also touching to see the British Embassy staff help carry their Commonwealth cousin’s banner (the Canadian Embassy in Panama).

Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Copyright: British Embassy Panama City
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post

It took approximately two hours to walk the entire Panama Pride parade route, which started in Santa Ana through Casco Viejo, finishing along the Cinta Costera. It was incredible to see all of the rainbow flags draped across the whole of the old town, along with well-wishers, supporters and revellers lining the parade route, as well as on the numerous balconies situated in apartments, bars and clubs all across Casco Viejo. 

The Panama Pride route this year (2019) had been extended, so as well as walking with the Pride Parade and flags through Casco Viejo, we walked down the hill through the local neighbourhoods including Avenue B – it was beautiful to see the colourful street procession pass by so many vibrant street murals and local businesses and shops.

Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post

The Parade was led by local Calle Arriba of Las Tablas Queen Marianelys Vargas and sponsored by several prominent local and international companies, including Marriott Hotels Panama. The Pride Parade finished outside Plaza V Centenario where the party really began – several loud speaker systems vyed for our attention and the local street sellers (truly entrepreneurs!) were out in force selling cold drinks, hot dogs and various rainbow wares.

The weather for the Pride Panama party was absolutely perfect, and we were treated to a glorious sunset over Casco Viejo old town and looking over the bay towards Cinco Costera, with all the skyscrapers shimmering in the distance. The celebrations in Plaza V Centenario continued until late with several local musicians and dancers performing on the main stage – many bars and clubs in Casco Viejo also stayed open until the small hours, hosting many LGBTQ parties.

Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post

As well as the Panama Pride Parade taking place on the Saturday, there were several other Panama Pride related events taking place around the city during the week, including a series of talks about LGBTQ issues and the tourism potential for Panama, culminating in a big daytime gaytime party at the W Hotel, part of the Marriott Hotel group.

Love truly is love and this year’s Panama Pride Parade comes at the same time as the inauguration of the new President, Laurentino Cortizo (in Panama, a new president is elected every four years). We can only hope this new President signifies change and is a catalyst for a new, more progressive Panama.

Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post
Panama City Pride Parade 2019, Central America blog post

Blog post written by Neil Hassall, photography by Neil Hassall and Caroline Keyzor. Please do not use without permission.

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