Honolulu Pride

October 9, 2023 Kawena Komeiji
A seamless pattern of people at a pride parade - doodle style.

Not only is October LGBT History Month, but it’s also Honolulu Pride Month. Let’s take a moment to spotlight a few local individuals who have helped to uplift the LGBTQ+ community by embracing themselves and living an authentic life.

A picture of Mana Shim(Meleana) Mana Shim

A graduate of Kamehameha Schools, (Meleana) Mana Shim is a professional soccer player, an anti-abuse and harassment advocate, and a lawyer. After graduating from Santa Clara University, Shim played for the National Women’s Soccer League with the Portland Thorns and Houston Dash. 

In 2021, while a student in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William Richardson School of Law, Mana brought sexual abuse in women’s soccer to light. This resulted in the creation of the  U.S. Soccer Federation’s Participant Safety Task Force of which she became the first Chair. This year, she also signed a temporary contract with Gotham FC.

Shim has also been very open about her mental health and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. One of her goals is to de-stigmatize mental disorders. She is also an aloha ʻāina advocate and recently teamed up with Gotham FC to create shirts as a fundraiser for the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. She also tweeted, “Anyone who knows disaster capitalism knows the urgency of protecting our ‘āina from developers and greedy malihini.”


  • “Gotham FC’s Got Mana” (link)
  • “Through the death of her father and a battle with mental illness, Mana Shim perseveres” by Jamie Goldberg in Oregon Live (link)
  • “UH student recognized as one of top law students nationwide” in UH News (link
  • “UH alumna chosen to lead U.S. Soccer task force” in UH News (link)

A picture of Kim Coco IwamotoKim Coco Iwamoto

Born and raised in Hawaiʻi, Kim Coco Iwamoto is a politician, activist, and fourth generation Japanese American. She attended both public and private schools on Oʻahu including Hōkūlani Elementary School, Aliʻiōlani Elementary School, Hanahauʻoli Elementary School, and Saint Louis High School. After graduating high school, Kim Coco moved to New York City to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology and then moved on to San Francisco State University for a Bachelor’s Degree. 

In 2000, she graduated from University of New Mexico School of Law with a Juris Doctor degree. In a 2018 interview with The Advocate, Iwamoto said, “I decided to go to law school to figure out the law so that it couldn’t be used against us, and to figure out how to change the law to protect us. I don’t get to talk about that very often because, as I mentioned earlier, that kind of activism doesn’t really resonate with people in Hawaii, yet I think people want somebody who knows the fight, who’s had to fight, and will fight for them and alongside of them.”

In New York, Kim Coco became an activist for trans rights and equality. She recalled moments in which trans people were murdered or left to die, simply because they were trans. She said, “we kept doing all of these street protests, and that’s where I learned how to be an activist and the importance of grassroots organizing.” More recently, Kim Coco has been involved in the aloha ʻāina movement in Hawaiʻi.

Kim Coco served on the Hawaiʻi Board of Education from 2006 to 2011 to improve the public education system in Hawaiʻi. She is currently running to represent the Kakaʻako/Ala Moana/Downtown area. A few of her issues include shutting down Red Hill, affordable housing, healthcare, child care, and kupuna care.


  • Kim Coco Iwamoto website (link)
  • Kim Coco Iwamoto: Unashamed Champion of Change by Mitchell Kooga in Lei (link)
  • With Kim Coco Iwamoto, Hawaii Could Make Trans History by Jeffrey Masters in the The Advocate (link)

A picture of Sasha ColbySasha Colby

Sasha Kekauoha, also known as Sasha Colby, is from Waimānalo, Oʻahu and is an award winning drag queen and māhū wahine. In 2012, she won the Miss Continental, the most prestigious drag pageant. Of her upbringing, she says ““The people that I grew up with and raised me would be so mad if I was not aloha, so it’s just in you.”

In an interview with Vogue, Sasha talks about how drag is an art form and for her, she draws inspiration from dance, which has a beginning, middle and end. She also draws inspiration from pain and said, “I like to show vulnerability but end it with a statement that I’m still a powerful woman.”

Colby has also used her platform to talk about the reclamation of the hua ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi, māhū. She told DIASPORA, “This renaissance of mahu [and] being something that you’re proud of is really coinciding with the way Hawaiian culture is being exemplified, retaught and trying to save a dying language.”

Although she was already a legend and an icon, Sasha Colby won Rupaul’s Drag Race earlier this year, becoming the first winner of Native Hawaiian and/or Polynesian descent. Sasha is the Grand Marshal of the 2023 Honolulu Pride Parade, which has the theme of Rooted in Pride: Homecoming.


  • “‘Drag Race’ Winner Sasha Colby Talks How Her Hawaiian Culture, Queer Journey, And Grief Shaped Her Art And Life” by Dino-Ray Ramos in Vogue (link)
  • Hawaiʻi News Now: Sasha Colby from Waimanalo fresh off her win on RuPaul’s Drag Race (link)
  • “‘I Am the Embodiment of What They Want to Eradicate’: RuPaul’s Drag Race Winner Sasha Colby on Why Her Time Is Now” by José Criales-Unzueta (link)

A picture of Cheyne GallardeCheyne Gallarde

Cheyne Gallarde is a Hawaiʻi born and raised artist who has worked projects such as Pow! Wow! Festival and the MTV Video Music Awards. His focus is creating comic book style superheroes and villains of LGBTQ icons. 

In an interview with Creator Collective, Cheyne says that he enjoys being able to bring a queer, person of color voice to the table and creating art that people can see themselves in because art has so many intricate layers that resonates differently with people. Cheyne was personally selected by authors Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez to illustrate the cover for the book, Legendary Children: The First Decade of Rupaul’s Drag Race and the Last Century of Queer Life.

Gallarde says that art allows people to create who they want to be, especially in cases where they’re not allowed to be who they want. Check out his amazing art on his website: www.cheynerama.com


  • “20 Queer Q’s with Artist Cheyne Gallarde” by Joe Rodriguez (link)
  • Cheynerama.com: About Cheyne (link)
  • Creator Collective: Bringing Queer Gamer Voices into Comics w/ Cheyne Gallarde (link)
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