Tampa Pride announces 2018 grand marshals, grand couple and award recipients

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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Tampa | Tampa Pride has announced the event’s 2018 grand marshals, grand couple and community award recipients ahead of their fourth annual celebration.

Former Tampa Police Department Chief Jane Castor spearheaded the list of grand marshals, with the organization touting her decisive leadership which endured for her 31-year career. Castor was the first woman to lead the Tampa Police Department, and has previously served as a grand marshal.

“Chief Castor has redefined community policing in her hometown and driven down the crime rate with her innovative approach to fighting crime, most successfully through strong partnerships with the community,” the organization’s press release reads. “She built a reputation for working side by side with residents, community leaders, business owners and neighboring law enforcement agencies to reduce crime and improve the quality of life in Tampa.”

Tampa Pride’s second grand marshal, the Tampa-born Reverend Jakob Hero-Shaw, is the senior pastor at the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC). He serves on the worldwide denominational governing board of MCC, and is the coordinator for the Transgender Religious Roundtable at the Center for LGBTQ and Gender Studies at the Pacific School of Religion.

According to Tampa Pride, “Jakob’s greatest joy in life is raising two incredible kids with his husband, Allan.”

John and Nancy Desmond were named as Tampa Pride 2018’s grand couple. “When John and Nancy Desmond’s only child came out to them as gay as a 28-year-old adult, they were confused and scared for his welfare, as is often the case when family members become suddenly and intimately immersed in an unfamiliar subject,” the organization shared.

“Jumping in with both feet, the Desmonds founded PFLAG Tampa and relied on their newfound LGBTQ friends to introduce them to this inclusive community.”

The husband and wife duo are often found sharing their love and support for the LGBTQ community in Ybor, directly across from anti-LGBTQ protestors. “They like to say that the best thing that ever happened to them was when their son came out as gay,” Tampa Pride says. “He proudly encourages them to embark on a retirement that is beyond their wildest dreams.”

Community award recipients include Ernie Webb, one of the co-founders of Ybor hotspot The Honey Pot. “As co-owner and operator of the 14,000 square foot dance club, Ernie has always supported his local community,” Tampa Pride advises. The organization will also recognize Dr. Shawn Robinson, Ybor City Campus President of Hillsborough Community College, for his work in the city.

The Suncoast Softball League, the area’s largest LGBTQ sports league, will also be recognized for its community advocacy. “The league isn’t just about sports,” Tampa Pride asserts, noting that for the league’s 25 years, thousands of dollars have been raised to benefit local charities like the Tampa AIDS Network.

Tampa Pride will be held on March 24, 2018. For additional information about the event, including sponsorship opportunities, visit TampaPride.org or email Tampa Pride President Carrie West at c.west@TampaPride.org.

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