Gulfport Public Library, LGBTQ Resource Center celebrate Pride, national honor

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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GULFPORT, Fla. | The Gulfport Public Library has received the nation’s highest honor given to libraries and museums ahead of the LGBTQ Resource Center’s month of Pride programming.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced Gulfport Public Library as one of 10 recipients of the 2019 National Medal for Museum and Library Service May 7. The winners were chosen from 30 nationwide finalists for addressing unique issues and challenges confronting communities through their services. Programming provided by the LGBTQ Resource Center, housed in the library and established as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit in April, was singled out for recognition.

“It’s a pleasure to recognize the 10 recipients,” IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew said in a statement. “Through their programs, services and partnerships, these institutions exemplify the many ways that libraries and museums are positively transforming communities across the nation.”

Congressman Charlie Crist celebrated the news at the library along with Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson, Library Director David Mather, LGBTQ Resource Center Chair Susan Gore and Council Member Michael Fridovich May 7. “Congratulations to Gulfport Public Library for winning the Institute of Museum and Library Services National Medal for Museum and Library Service,” he shared via social media. “Another reason to head to Gulfport and get a jump-start on your summer reading!”

“I am simply over the moon with this latest honor highlighting all of the work that the Resource Center does,” LGBTQ Resource Center and Circle of Friends of the Gulfport Public Library Chair Susan Gore says, praising library director David Mather, his staff and volunteers. “Especially during Pride month with our very full schedule of events.”

The LGBTQ Resource Center’s Pride programming will begin May 30 with a Friends of Dorothy March. Participants will gather at the Gulfport Casino Ballroom at 5:30 p.m. and follow the Gulfport Gecko Amalgamated Marching Band to the library to raise the Pride flag. City and state officials will gather for the event, including Rep. Jennifer Webb, the first openly LGBTQ woman elected to the Florida legislature.

The opening reception of ArtOut will follow, the third annual exhibition highlighting local LGBTQ artists. The show runs through June and features work in acrylics, oils, photography and more. The gathering will recognize participating artists.

On June 6, the Resource Center will once again welcome Rep. Webb for an interactive overview of Florida’s legislative session. At 7 p.m., the Gulfport resident will discuss issues and legislation impacting the LGBTQ community, including the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, changes to domestic violence laws and more. “It will be fascinating,” Gore says. “I could not be prouder that Gulfport helped elect Rep. Webb. We live in an amazing place.”

A presentation by Broward Circuit Court Judge Robert W. Lee, the first openly LGBTQ person appointed to the Florida State Court, will follow June 12. “Welcome to Florida: LGBTQ Attorneys Need Not Apply” will begin at 7 p.m. and detail the history of discrimination against members of the LGBTQ community practicing law.

“Stonewall Uprising,” a documentary examining the beginnings of the LGBTQ civil rights movement, will be held June 13 at 7 p.m. The gathering will feature commentary from area resident Jay Chetney who was present during the riots.

In a fundraiser benefiting the LGBTQ Resource Center, entertainers Scott Daniel and Matthew McGee will bring their fan favorite Scott & Patti Show to the Catherine Hickman Theater June 20 from 7-9 p.m. The duo will showcase their improv and showmanship to highlight showtunes and standards of yesterday and today.

After the Resource Center participates in St Pete Pride’s street festival June 23, programming will return to the library June 27 for BranchOut, a celebration featuring live music. The organization will unveil the recipient of the inaugural LGBTQ+ Scholar Award, presenting a $1,000 scholarship to an LGBTQ student from Gulfport, and officially celebrate their recognition as an independent nonprofit.

“We’re deeply grateful to Circle of Friends for creating the LGBTQ Resource Center,” Gore says. “Now it’s time for us to be launched for the next phase.”

For more information about the Gulfport Public Library, the LGBTQ Resource Center or its month of programming, visit their website.

Photo courtesy Crist’s Facebook page.

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