With just over a week remaining before St. Pete Pride, St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster signed a proclamation recognizing LGBT Pride in his city. The action makes him the first ever mayor in the city to officially recognize June as Pride month.
St Pete Pride’s Executive Director Eric Skains and Board President Aaron Horcha met with Foster June 19 at City Hall.
“Communication went multiple directions for the past few months to make this happen,” said Eric Skains, Executive Director of St Pete Pride. “The people of St Petersburg and Tampa Bay should be extremely grateful to live in a community so accepting of diversity.”
A week before, all eight members of the City Council signed a separate proclamation recognizing LGBT Pride in St. Petersburg. At that meeting, Foster showed no interest in signing the proclamation. After meeting with representatives of St. Pete Pride, however, Foster had a change of heart.
“St Petersburg has been building a foundation of equality and fairness for all residents and visitors, and has become a City that treasures the diversity of all citizens who call the ‘Sunshine City’ home,” Foster wrote in his own Proclamation. “St Petersburg has become a model for inclusion, and has demonstrated to the rest of the world that this City, our City, is open for business, and is grateful for the gifts and talents of all people without regard to race, gender, national origin, disability, or sexual orientation.”
Skains said that Foster will present the proclamation at the annual Stonewall Reception at the St. Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts on June 25 at 7 p.m. Other elected officials are expected to attend as well.
Earlier this month Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn signed a proclamation that also recognized LGBT Pride month.
“This is a historical year for the LGBT community of Tampa Bay,” said Skains. “Just as mayors from both sides of the bridge have come together in recognizing the accomplishments of the LGBT community, the opportunity is now for us as LGBT people and allies-from both sides of the bay- to work together in strengthening the Tampa Bay LGBT community.”
St. Pete Pride’s extended weekend of events begins on Monday, June 24, and runs through Sunday, June 30. The annual parade and street festival is Saturday, June 29, along Central Avenue’s Grand Central District.