Aloha Maui Pride (AMP) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization formed in 2019 to promote and sponsor activities and events that support, celebrate, and honor the Maui LGBTQIA+ community.
The mission of AMP is to improve and honor the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Gender Non-conforming, Non-binary, Aikane, Mahu, Mahu Wahine, and Mahu Kane people; as well as, to enhance a mutual understanding and acceptance of all people. AMP is committed to accomplishing this goal via education, sharing cultural values, and increasing awareness and visibility of the LGBTQIA+ community and their allies within the State of Hawaii.
Our organization’s main endeavor is planning, fundraising, staffing and holding the annual Aloha Maui Pride Festival during the second week of October. The events leading up to and including the festival bring together members of the LGBTQIA+ community, their allies, friends, supporters, elected officials, and the general public to celebrate and bring visibility to the island’s LGBTQIA+ community. Pride week events are planned to promote acceptance, integration, diversity, connection, and celebration. A recurring theme of all AMP activities and meetings is “Inclusion” where everyone is welcome and are treated with dignity and respect.
The inaugural year, 2019, saw the largest Pride Festival ever on Maui, with over 1000 in attendance during all the Pride week events! This was accomplished through the vital assistance of the Aloha Maui Pride Planning Group that met biweekly to make all the events happen. Pride week kicked off with the monthly LGBT Brunch, followed by AMP It Up Music Night, Kanikapila Dinner Show, Youth Skate Night, monthly LGBT Hike, The Love Boat, ManCandy Drag Queen after-Pride party, and the week finished off with a Beach BBQ & Potluck. It was a real accomplishment for this core group of about 15 to hold multiple events in different venues, with members of the community coming together in never-before-seen numbers! It was a proud moment for all of us. Moving forward into 2020, we realized that a global pandemic would require the group to shift to planning an online Virtual Pride event and Silent Auction. Weekly meetings were held to discuss video content and solicit items for the auction. The event was streamed over our social media sites and is available on our website.
In addition to the Pride Festival, AMP hosts other events throughout the year. We invite the community to come honor the Stonewall uprising every June and to enjoy a humpback whale watch in March. There are recurring monthly events that bring the community together including the LGBT 1st Sunday Brunch, LGBT movie night, and guided LGBT hikes. All these events are open to everyone and everyone is welcomed-we love meeting new folks! AMP supports other organizations too by sponsoring a Womyn’s Valentine Day dance, walking with other Maui LGBT organizations in the County Fair parade, and attending other nonprofit organizations’ events. Finally, an award, “Maui Stands with Pride”, is given to an individual or organization that has been vital in supporting the Maui LGBTQIA+ community throughout the year. AMP is the only organization on Maui to be involved with such a variety of diverse LGBTQIA+ events.
Cultural awareness and the history and spirituality of the Hawaiian people, Kanaka Maoli, provides an aspirational context to the work of AMP. A series of training sessions for the group was begun in 2019 which focused on Hawaiian culture and appreciation of the Spirit of Aloha. The first session involved workshops on Hawaiian traditional practices, the spiritual meaning of Aloha, Hawaiian Mahu, and other elements that increase our cultural awareness and appreciation of Hawaii. Members of collaborating organizations included the Maui AIDS Foundation (MAF) and the Maui Equality Coalition (MEC). Future workshops in social, political, legal, spiritual, and Hawaiian traditions topics are planned.
We strive to increase acceptance and acknowledgement of our community by the larger population and in government. The Board President has worked closely with the Office of the Mayor of Maui County (Mayor Victorino) who named a Liaison to our organization (Darlene Endrina). Real change and recognition has resulted from this partnership. In 2019, Mayor Victorino proclaimed October 11th as “National Coming Out Day in Maui County”. In 2020, the Mayor proclaimed June as “June Pride Month in Maui County” and flew the rainbow Pride flag outside the County center during June for the first time ever. We supported the Mayor’s efforts to promote increased participation in the 2020 Census on our social media pages. We strived to increase our visibility in Maui by walking in the County Fair parade. Elected officials from State and County government participated in our Pride Festival and continue to support our efforts. Working together with others and alongside elected officials, we are making a difference!
Supporting our community is another vital part of AMP’s mission. The LGBTQIA+ Assistance Network was developed in 2020 to survey and assist members of our community with their needs. The survey form can be completed by anyone that needs some type of assistance or can provide assistance so that people can be linked together to meet those needs within the community. In times of a public health emergency, members of AMP got involved in a food and supplies drive for Kapuna in Hana. Future ideas for other community support events include rehabbing community facilities, food & toy drives, and beach clean ups.
The overall vision of AMP is to grow:
- To become a “destination” Pride Festival week where people and performers from all over the world will join with the Maui LGBTQIA+ community to celebrate, learn about the Hawaiian culture, and enjoy the beauty and spirit of Maui no ka oi;
- To hold a Pride Parade full of all the colors of the rainbow;
- To become more involved with outreach, supporting the underserved members of the Maui LGBTQIA+ community, educating others about LGBTQAI issues, joining efforts other local nonprofit organizations, and working with elected officials; and
- To have more people join AMP in these efforts!
ALOHA MAUI PRIDE PLANNING GROUP (AMPPG)
On a fateful day in November 2018 at the monthly LGBTQ brunch, a couple of people were approached by a previous President of Maui Pride, the group that had been holding Pride festivals on Maui for years. He asked each a question, “Do you want to help us with organizing Pride festival next year?” So what started out to be an effort to help an existing group with the festival over the next 11 months, turned into something much different than they knew at that moment when those two people said a collective “yes”.
They put the word out to the community to see if others had ideas and wanted to get involved with planning the Pride festival. The first meeting was held the following month, consisting of about 12 people who casually gathered on beach chairs in Waipuilani Park to throw out ideas. So began the Aloha Maui Pride Planning Group (AMPPG). They met every few weeks to figure out how to raise funds, where to hold the festival, and what would the festival look like. Then, in February 2019, plans changed.
Members of the planning group were informed that if Pride festivals were to continue, the group would have to go it on their own. Pride festival was only 8 months away! The group realized that holding the annual inclusive, diverse LGBTQ+ festival on Maui couldn’t end there: The challenge was accepted. In March 2019, a new 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organization was formed. A poll was posted on social media, and the community voted for a new festival and nonprofit organization name that represented the Love, Peace, and Compassion of Hawaii; Aloha Maui Pride.
The AMPPG found a great meeting place at the Board President’s store, Exclusively Yours and Ceramic Tile in Kahului, and set a schedule to meet every 2 weeks until October. More people joined that had much needed experience with event promotion, performance, and organization, and fundraiser events were planned. The LGBTQ+ community and allied businesses supported the group’s efforts through donations, events, ticket sales, and merchandise. Four days of events were planned for inaugural Aloha Maui Pride festival week 2019.
But no one in the group knew for sure if the community would come out, enjoy the celebration, feel represented and safe, and if the events would be successful. In September, the Mayor’s office contacted the Board President about doing a proclamation for National Coming Out Day on October 11, during Pride week. Another group member organized the local LGBTQ+ organizations to represent the community by walking in the Maui County parade, that occurs the week prior to Pride festival. Then a reporter for the weekly publication, Maui Time, contacted a group member to do a cover story on the Pride festival week. It was on!!!
Aloha Maui Pride festival week 2019 exceeded everyone’s expectations: Over 500 people came to the Pride festival, the largest turnout ever! The other events that week were also successful, with happy faces, people dancing, dazzling performances, and lots of rainbow colors everywhere! You can check out photos from all those events here.
So we had a humble beginning and we hope to grow Aloha Maui Pride festival into an internationally recognized Pride festival, gathering LGBTQ+ people from around the world. Have we piqued your interest? You can make a tax-deductible donation at the link above or if you’re on Maui (or can assist remotely) we welcome & encourage any LGBTQ+ members or allies to get involved with AMPPG.
Come to one of our planning meetings to see if it’s something you would like to be involved with; you can find the upcoming meeting listed on our calendar here. We have a Facebook AMPPG group, but we ask that you to first come to a meeting, try it out, and see how you may want to be involved. If you would rather occasionally volunteer at an event, you can sign up here or if you have any questions, send us an email here. Mahalo!