Photos and text by: Pacho Manrique
Much has changed in the past 33 years since the first Gay Carnival Parade (Guacherna Gay) was held in 1984, and perhaps it’s the police’s role in the event that is the most unlikely and at the same time the most meaningful witness to Barranquilla’s paradigm modification. While in its beginnings the city demanded from its police force to heavily persecute the parade and its participants, it later required from it to provide protection to the marchers from a non-understanding and often aggressive crowd, and now-a-days, the city tasks it to guard the paraders much in the way performers are kept safe from an audience’s euphoria.
The Gay Guacherna is perhaps one of the biggest outlets in the city for gay pride expression, and a very anticipated date, a second Halloween if you will, as evidenced in several of the costumes’ complexity and colorfulness.
It is indeed a spectacle, and while still a large number of the spectators attend drawn by their morbid curiosity and eager for a chance to mock the paraders, an even larger crowd has embraced diversity in their own way, and playfully wishes to enjoy a show of uncommon occurrence, in a city that slowly has begun to understand that there is no sense in obliviously denying the existence of a minority that has long left the shadowy corners of a closet and yearns to be part of the immaterial heritage of humanity.