By : Rick Claggett
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Rick Claggett

Rick Claggett

The word “pride” has been everywhere lately. It started this month with Gay Days Weekend/One Magical Weekend, then came the Supreme Court decision declaring same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional, and finally St. Pete Pride rounded out the month.

Pride, though, is a yearlong event here at Watermark. It begins in March with the newly resurrected Tampa Pride and ends late October with Volusia County Pride. Along the way we make stops in St. Pete, Orlando, Sarasota, Volusia County and Polk County.

Although some of these events are much larger than the others, they all share a common theme: Pride. A fitting name for the event and mood of the crowds.

The most recent of the celebrations, St. Pete Pride, saw record numbers. Some reports estimate 200,000 to 250,000 LGBTs and allies enjoyed the weekend’s events. Maybe it was due to the Supreme Court decision or the excitement of the nighttime parade, but the crowd was unusally radiant. Things seemed different this year.

In the past I was more interested in throwing beads to the crowd than sitting back and enjoying the moment. This year I took a step back from the hurried excitement and concentrated on the people who lined up to watch the parade. They were a happy bunch. Everyone had a smile on their face and pride in their hearts.

Luckily, I get to see this at all the Prides now. Those without a parade are just as fabulous in their own ways. It’s a whole other experience when you have a few thousand people who come to the park and spend the whole day listening to the entertainment and hanging out with the vendors. These Prides are equally as fun and I highly encourage everyone to attend who can.

Pride doesn’t just exist in events for me. It’s the overwhelming feeling I get throughout the year as a Watermark Media employee. Putting together a newspaper while maintaining and up-to-the-minute website takes a ton of work. Some people are surprised to find that Watermark Media functions with a small team of staff and freelancers. Some of us here take on the jobs of two or three people, and everyone works beyond expectations.

The dedication of this staff couldn’t have been truer over the past few issues as we worked without an editor.

Friday, June 26, was a big day in gay news. We at Watermark gathered around our computers waiting for news from the Supreme Court. Once the news arrived, we all sat around the TV to watch President Obama deliver a beautiful speech on the victory we achieved with marriage equality. Afterward, we toasted to the moment we all knew would be ingrained in our minds.

These dedicated people fill me with pride, and I’m so happy I got to share that moment with them.

Unfortunately, as we celebrate our victories and Prides, we are reminded of those who are not able to enjoy what we can.

In the South, opponents of marriage equality have promised to stand in the way. I also recently saw a video of a Turkish man being hosed down by police at a Pride rally. The violence was unnerving, and it is clear these areas have a long battle ahead of them.

Take pride in who you are. Take pride in what you do. Change will follow.

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