From coast-to-coast, Central Florida and Tampa Bay celebrate Pride in the fall

By : Jeremy Williams
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Many people think of the month of June when someone says Pride, but thanks to National Coming Out Day and the state’s cooler temperatures, October is fast becoming Florida’s big Pride month.

Whether you are looking to march through the streets or spend a few hours in the park with your friends, October has got a Pride for you.

Space Coast Pride

Saturday, Sept. 30, 3:00 – 10:00 p.m.

Eau Gallie Square, Melbourne

The space coast will commemorate a decade worth of LGBTQ Pride festivals and parades with the biggest celebration Space Coast Pride have ever undertaken.

“We are going bigger and badder this year for our 10th anniversary,” says Scott Wall-DeSousa, Space Coast Pride’s events coordinator. “We will have amazing floats in the parade, and this is an event for the entire family. It really is going to be incredible.”

Space Coast Pride will kick off the night before, on Sept. 29, with the VIP Reception and Miss Space Coast Pride Pageant.

“The pageant will be hosted by KISS 95.1’s Wingnut and Gidget Galore and is one of our most anticipated events,” Wall-DeSousa says. “It should be a lot of fun and we are expecting a big crowd, so get your tickets early for that one.”

The VIP Reception begins at 7:00 p.m. with the SCP Pageant starting at 8:00 p.m. at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door and $30 for VIP.

Space Coast Pride’s festival starts at 3:00 p.m. with the parade kicking off at 5:00 p.m. The festival will feature more than 100 vendor booths, a Kids Fun Zone featuring face painting and packed entertainment lineup.

“Along with all of our fantastic drag queens,” Wall-DeSousa says, “we have music by Sam Tolson, comedian Sandra Valls and our big headliner is Debby Holiday.”

Celebrating 10 years for any Pride organization is quite a feat, but to do so in a more traditionally conservative area is a huge accomplishment.

“This is a very Republican county, but they are very socially liberal here and everyone in Melbourne is very supportive of our Pride celebration,” Wall-DeSousa says. “Things have changed in Brevard County and Pride really shows that.”

For more information visit SpaceCoastPride.org.

Come OUT St. Pete

Saturday, Oct. 14, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Grand Central District, St. Petersburg

Come OUT St. Pete has an ambitious schedule of events for their inaugural year (for a more in depth look at Come OUT St. Pete check out Watermark’s previous issue or visit WatermarkOnline.com to read up on it). Along with a week full of events that coincide with the Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, COSP’s main event is the same day as Orlando’s Come Out With Pride festival and parade, as well as Tampa Bay’s All Hallows Masquerade Ball. A lot to attend but you can never have too much gay.

COSP’s biggest day will be Saturday, Oct. 14, kicking off at 10:00 a.m. with Bridging the Bay LGBTQ+ Community March, organized by COSP and Project No Labels. The march will follow more or less the old St. Pete Pride parade route down 31st Street, turning onto Central Ave. and marching through the Grand Central District.

The Grand Central Proud Festival starts at noon, right after the march, with local businesses, merchants and restaurants lining the sidewalks on Central Ave.

“St. Pete Pride evolved over the years to attract more out-of-towners,” Grand Central District board member and COSP committee member said to Watermark last month. “We wanted to do something more community based, a little more local.”

COSP will definitely try and maintain that local feel as most of their events will be partnering with local businesses and organizations including the LGBT Welcome Center, Punky’s Bar and Grill, Metro Charities, Empath Partners in Care and Enigma St. Pete to name a few.

For more information on all COSP’s events, check out the last issue of Watermark or visit ComeOutStPete.org.

Volusia Pride

Saturday, Oct. 21, 1:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Old Fort Park, New Smyrna Beach

The little Pride that could, Volusia Pride, which was born out of the fading Daytona Pridefest, is celebrating their sixth Pride festival in New Smyrna Beach Oct. 21.

“We were a bit worried because of Hurricane Irma,” says Cindy Casey, Volusia Pride’s chairperson. “Last year when Matthew came through, it downed a big tree out at the park and worried us that we might be dealing with issues like that. But we just had some fallen tree limbs and no issues with the power out there. We have everything cleaned up and ready to go.”

Volusia Pride is set for a fun afternoon in Old Fort Park in New Smyrna Beach, with nearly 70 vendors expected. They will also have entertainment throughout the day, with the event being emceed by Pulse’s former entertainment manager NeemaBahrami.

“He is also bringing along Angelica Sanchez, the Pulse ambassador for Equality and Diversity,” Casey says. “She will be the main performer and we will also have a couple Kings performing as well.”

Volusia Pride is sponsored by Volusia County’s PFLAG chapter and the open and affirming United Church of Christ in New Smyrna Beach.

“The first year we held Volusia Pride in the church’s side yard thinking we would have a handful of vendors and a couple of people show up. We had 900 people that first year, so we had to move away from the church after that because we didn’t have the space,” Casey says. “Now we are at Old Fort Park and we love it out there. There is a lot of shade from the trees and we are so excited to have it there again this year.”

For more information visit VolusiaPride.com.

Sarasota Pride

Saturday, Oct. 21, Noon – 6:00 p.m.

J.D. Hamel Park, Sarasota

If you can’t make it to the east coast of Florida on Oct. 21, head to the Gulf Coast as the one and only Cindy Barnes brings Sarasota Pride back to J.D. Hamel Park.

“I love those big Prides we have. I love St. Pete Pride, but it’s nice to be in your own town celebrating among your community,” Barnes says. Barnes has been the Sarasota Pride chairperson for several years and has got the event running like a finely oiled machine now.

“The beautiful thing is Sarasota Pride, after a certain point, takes on a life of its own and things all fall into place. Vendors come on board every day and sponsors are calling and saying they are in,” Barnes says.

Sarasota Pride will have nearly 40 vendors in the shaded J.D. Hamel Park at the corner of Gulfstream and Main St. They will also have entertainment killing it on the stage the entire afternoon.

“The Cheaters are going to kick us off at noon. Local musician Jamie Gee will be there to perform, as well as Blue Star Sound. They are local talent and they draw a good crowd. The entertainment is locked down and amazing,” Barnes says.

Sarasota Pride takes over J.D. Hamel Park with the tag line “#Resist & Rise Up” and they are bringing that message along with a day of fun and pride.

“We aren’t going to let the weather stop us,” Barnes says. “The community here loves their Pride and loves this event. I can’t wait to see everyone out there.”

For more information visit SarasotaPride.org.

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