In Playa del Inglés, on the Maspalomas Costa Canaria, on Wednesday, Yumbo workers and local residents gathered at the Centro Comercial Yumbo’s main Plaza de la Diversidad Darío Jaén, under the rainbow flag, to take a moment to remember 3 days of drag queens, “cross dressers”, queer men and women fighting the police on the streets of Greenwich Village, New York, New York, following the Stonewall raid on Christopher street, June 28 1969.


It was, according to the invitation, “simply an opportunity for those who wish to, to join in a moment of unity, to take a breath and remember.”  In attendance, standing shoulder to shoulder, were representatives of some of the most important and longest running businesses and institutions around the Yumbo community, including GLAY, Aula Darío Jaén, PSOE & GAMÁ, Sparkles Show Bar, Bar Junior, Mardi Gras Bar Gran Canaria, Pride Properties, Checkpoint Canarias, Wapa Tapa, Toms Bar, Buddies, Cheyenne’s, The Canary News and more. Also in attendance were locally elected Town Hall councillors Jose Carlos Álamo and Ramón Suárez (PPAV), who kindly showed up to express their support.

Special thanks to Mardi Gras Bar, who have recently been most conscientiously maintaining the PRIDE flag, flying aloft over the plaque dedicating the square to GLAY founder Darío Jaén Rivero.  A great service to your community.

The commemoration, of course, marked World PRIDE Day, known elsewhere as Christopher Street Day.  The raid on the Stonewall inn, a bar in New York’s Greenwich Village, was not the first of its kind, on a mob-run establishment catering to mostly homosexual clients, nor was it the first time that gay men and women had fought back.  They were an easy target, and in particular anyone not wearing sufficient “gender appropriate” clothing could be subject to some rough treatment from the NYPD.  It was, however, the catalyst that sparked a world-wide movement to promote not just equal rights and tolerance, for non-heteronormative lifestyles and orientations; but from this simple act of defiance, a demand for total liberty, dignity and respect, regardless of who or how a person chooses to love or feels loved.  The very first act of remembrance, the very next year, 1970, gave birth to a protest movement that would sweep the globe.

By the time GLAY founders Claudio Falcón, Darío Jaén Rivero, Barry Davison & John “Hollywood” Charnley had organised the very first Maspalomas PRIDE on Gran Canaria, such open celebrations had become somewhat common in many places around the world.  But despite the diverse inclusivity that was practiced within the unique environs of the Yumbo centre, there was still much work to do to educate wider society.  Though Gran Canaria has long embraced drag culture, and welcomed LGBTQIA+ travellers, there are still those who might seek to “other” gay people and exclude them from mainstream society.  That is why it is so important to remember not only the years of struggle, but also the successes.

GLAY President André van Wanrooij sent a message, saying:
“Jewels only shine when you polish them. The emancipation and acceptance of the lgbtq+ community is one of the jewels of Maspalomas as a society and as tourist destination. By the raising of the rainbow flag on this historic date we commemorate and celebrate the hard work done to make and keep SBT shining for those who live here and those who visit.
GLAY continues to offer help and assistance for all who make this unique municipality shine even more brightly”

PRIDE Matters to the Yumbo and Maspalomas

Maspalomas PRIDE Gran Canaria, now in its 23rd year, has developed from a small grass roots organised event to a reference point on the global LGBTQIA+ calendar, a beacon to the world from Europe’s only sub-tropical island destination, just 100 miles or so off the coast of West Africa.
The Ayuntamiento de San Bartolomé de Tirajana (SBT) town hall say this open celebration, and the welcome provided by this world class destination, regularly accounts for 100s of thousands of LGBTQIA+ visitors every year, boasting not just it’s main PRIDE events in May of each year, but also a second “Winter PRIDE” event that formed from it, making this one of the only places in the world to celebrate two PRIDEs as well as hosting probably Europe’s most famous LGBT dedicated nightspot and leisure hub, offering clubs, bars, discos, stage shows, as well as a range of top restaurants, and entertainment for all the family.
More than simply to host a demonstration of support for World PRIDE Day, June 28 also remembers that the main square in Yumbo was renamed in 2017, by newly re-elected Mayor Marco Aurélio Pérez (PPAV), in honour of GLAY founder, and political campaigner, Darío Jaén Rivero.  Yumbo’s main Plaza de La Diversidad Darío Jaén has become a monument not only to progressive political partnerships in Canary Islands society, embracing tolerance and the promotion of diversity in culture, but also testament to the great things that can be achieved when citizens unite, alongside businesses, activists and local government, to make a stand against repression, and to represent global human rights and encourage liberty for all.
Jose Carlos Alamo, town hall councillor for Security and Policing said yesterday:
“We believe in working together with the community. Seeking consensus and working towards a common goal. The Yumbo should not only be a place for leisure but also a meeting place, where we can share ideas to strengthen the brand of our destination, while never excluding the cultural and advocacy aspect.”
Attending alongside the SBT councillor for security, policing and emergencies, José Carlos Alamo, was also the ex-councillor for tourism, newly appointed as Sports councillor, Ramón Suaréz, who both later joined the various groups and activists gathered to reach out with some support from the new local council administration, and offer positivity to all those who live and work around the Yumbo, and Playa del Inglés, in projecting this destination’s long held values of respect and dignity for all visitors and citizens.  It was a most worthwhile opportunity for reflection and communication.
Long time activist and campaigner, Gregorio Viera, was a friend and colleague of Darío Jaén.  A member, and ex-treasurer, of the Las Palmas based GAMÁ association, he is also a founding member of the Aula Darío Jaén association who, along with GLAY, campaigned for the Yumbo square’s change of name.
Speaking at yesterday’s event Gregorio Viera said:
“Liberty, struggle, and advocacy. This 28th of June represents all these values of diversity. Each colour of the rainbow encourages us to continue building a better world for ourselves, our families, our children, and our friends. The fight, undertaken by those who came before us, serves as an example, to not falter, especially now that populisms are emerging in Europe, and in our own country. We must resist and never, never allow ourselves to be pushed back into the closet. We must fight for dignity and human rights.”

Over this last nine months, a new organisation has emerged, following on from several years of work by British resident, and master sailor, Jim Phillips.  his new association, ABSICAN, seeks to offer free sexual health screening and advice, having raised thousands of euros in public donations and corporate sponsorships they have partnered existing organisations to form Checkpoint Canarias.

Attending the Christopher Street community event Jim Phillips said:

“Thank you to GLAY for inviting us to attend and recognise the importance of 28 June in the ongoing fight for the unconditional acceptance of all members of our community. We shouldn’t underestimate the importance of these events over fifty years ago and recognise the significance of one sector of the community, the drag queens, fighting on behalf of all. This unity is a lesson we can all take forward.

From Checkpoint’s perspective, (ABSICAN), we may be LGBTI driven, but we are very clearly open to all and determined to deliver without discrimination or bias.”

A founding member of ABSICAN, and the CEO of PRIDE Properties Gran Canaria, a business named for the movement, Jim Keenan was once a teacher, and even worked for this newspaper, and has long been involved in local LGBT issues and activism. After attending yesterday’s commemorative event we invited him to send a few thoughts for inclusion.

Jim Keenan said:

“Despite all of the advances we have gave marriage, adoption, we’re still under attack. And we need to remember Stonewall, remember the lgbtq community who are still suffering worldwide. We must not let down our guard and realise that there are still people, from politicians in the United States to various African countries, that are passing laws against gay people and lifestyles.

So celebrate the unity, celebrate the liberty we have, but also remember there are people who are less fortunate and understand the journey that our elders fought for their rights.”