Founder, Chutney Pride
Tina Arinotis (she/her/hers) is an activist, entrepreneur and public figure in the LGBTQ+ Caribbean scene of New York-born in Elmhurst, Queens to a Trinidadian mother and a father of Greek and Italian descent, and raised in Far Rockaway. After attending Nassau Community College, she enlisted in the Navy where she came out as a lesbian. Her post-Naval career was on Wall Street, at which time she started to become interested in creating spaces for the West Indian LGBTQ community to come together. There were spaces for the straight West Indian community, and for the LGBTQ community, but none that celebrated the intersection of both identities.
Arinotis began by hosting private parties for her friends and other LGBTQ members of the West Indian Community under the name “Tropical Kings and Queens.” As the group began to grow, so did the desire to move these gatherings to public places. Arinotis started by asking business owners in the Village if they would host a Caribbean-themed night one Saturday a month. It was a big win for businesses to agree to hold an exclusive event on Saturday nights, because those were big business nights.
The initial events had Caribbean music, Bollywood drag queens, etc. and she spread the word using flyers and AOL, as well as advertising in HX and Next magazines. She also installed a separate phone line at home to call and get information about events.
Arniotis eventually sought a venue in Richmond Hill, Queens due to the high West Indian population. As the community grew, she officially incorporated Chutney Pride in 2013. After the dissolvement of Caribbean Pride and Curry Club NYC in the late 2000s, Arniotis then set her sights on organizing a Caribbean contingent to march in the Gay Pride Parade in Manhattan, to replicate the environment of the Caribbean Carnival.
Chutney Pride’s contribution to the Parade was continuing the “Big Truck” tradition (started by Caribbean Pride), which was a large truck with marchers dancing to West Indian music. Arinotis organized the Caribbean LGBTQ contingent of the Pride Parade for over a decade. In 2017, Chutney Pride had over 2,100 marchers registered for NYC Pride March, after only 600 in 2016.
Arinotis’ organizing career has been focused on creating space for individuals to connect, on all levels of their identities. One memorable milestone for Arniotis was the first time she was able to hang a Pride flag outside a bar where Chutney Pride was gathering at in Richmond Hill, Queens. The establishment was on Liberty Avenue, the main commercial strip in the neighborhood. Organizing these events also gave Arniotis the opportunity to educate community members about the LGBT community such as providing sensitivity training for the business owners and bouncers who worked her events. The core mission of Chutney Pride was connection—not just of high quantity, but of high quality.
Arinotis’s long list of avid supporters included Simone Dolabaille, who passed away in 2016 but served as a major support system.