For the first time in its 11 year history, St. Pete Pride has a proclamation signed by all sitting members of the St. Petersburg City Council.
On Thursday, June 13, the council presented a proclamation proclaiming June Pride month in the city. In the past, only one council member has signed the proclamation and no mayor of the city has ever done so.
Council Member Jeff Danner, whose district encompasses the Grand Central District, where the annual promenade and street festival is held, read aloud the proclamation which stated: “the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community is inclusive of our sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, nieces and nephews who contribute to making St Petersburg a beautiful place to live, work and play.” He concluded the proclamation by stating, “we the Members of St Petersburg City Council do hereby proclaim the month of June, 2013 LGBT Pride Month in St Petersburg and urge all citizens to join in eliminating discrimination in all forms, and to celebrate the diversity of our community.”
Several council members voiced support for St. Pete Pride and thanked board members and executive director Eric Skains for working so hard on such a successful event that brings millions to St. Petersburg every year.
“I have been to almost every St. Pete Pride and I always have a wonderful time,” councilwoman Leslie Curran said, adding that she wouldn’t be able to attend this year’s festivities because of scheduled out-of-town commitments.
Councilman Steve Kornell also expressed his thanks to St. Pete Pride, saying that “it’s a joy seeing the festival grow so much each year.” Kornell is a former grand marshal of St. Pete Pride and is the city council’s only openly gay member.
Noticeably absent from the proclamation again this year was the signature of St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster, who told representatives of Pride after the presentation that the “adult-themed” festivities are what dissuaded him from signing.
Foster’s predecessor, Mayor Rick Baker, also never signed a proclamation recognizing St. Pete Pride, which is the state’s largest LGBT Pride event, which boasted approximately 100,000 attendees during the 2012 street festival.
“On behalf of St Pete Pride staff and board members, we are extremely excited to receive this proclamation today,” Skains told the city council. “Only those of us within St Pete would have imaged the largest Pride in Florida would have happened in just 10 short years; an event that brings to the city an economic impact of over $10 million. And although we often focus on the single event, Pride represents so many things to so many people-a right to be and sense of belonging. If it weren’t for the shaming and discrimination towards the gay community that led to the Stonewall Riots, there would have been no need for a day to stand up to be seen.”
Earlier this month, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn signed a proclamation declaring June as Pride month in Tampa. His proclamation does not directly mention St. Pete Pride, but his proclamation came after St. Pete Pride board members approached him for the proclamation.
St. Pete Pride 2013 events, which is dubbed Pride Carnivale, begins on Wednesday, June 26, and runs through Sunday, June 30. The Annual Street Festival and Promenade is Saturday, June 29 beginning at 9 a.m. on Central Avenue between 22nd and 31st Streets.