Gulfport Shows Its Pride

A team of Gulfportians dress up the Gulfport trolley for the 2016 Pride Parade in St. Petersburg. From left are Michael Gauthier, Councilmember Yolanda Roman, Jo Silverleaf, Gail Biron, Charlene Metrano and Christine Gallagher. Photo by Debbie Wolfe.

Throughout June, cities across the country observe Pride Month with parades, parties, street festivals, memorials and more. The month was chosen in remembrance of a 1969 riot at the Stonewall Inn in Manhattan that is considered to be the beginning of the gay rights movement in the United States. In 2000, President Bill Clinton deemed June “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month,” which has expanded and is now commemorated each year. In Gulfport, Pride Month will be celebrated in a big way with a month-long series of events sponsored by the LGBTQ Resource Center of the Gulfport Public Library.

“This is our second year of celebrating Pride Month in June with a full slate of events,” said Daniel Hodge, Chair of the LGBTQ Resource Center Committee at the Gulfport Public Library. “The library has long been one of Gulfport’s major community hubs. And the Gulfport community has long been one of the most comfortable and welcoming communities for LGBTQ people to call home. So it was a logical connection for the library to host a resource center to serve the local LGBTQ population year-round,”

ArtOut kicks off the festivities on June 1 with a reception for a group art exhibit featuring 13 LGBTQ visual artists living and working in Gulfport. Other offerings include a movie from the LGBTQ monthly film series on June 8; a talk by Nadine Smith, co-founder and CEO of Equality Florida on June 12; a program sponsored by the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Project on June 22; and a performance of the original one-man show depicting the life and work of artist Keith Haring on June 29.

“In June, we celebrate the LGBTQ community of Gulfport by offering exceptional programming revolving around art, history, culture  and understanding,” said David Mather, director of the Gulfport Public Library. “The library welcomes the rich diversity of the city, and we hope that our welcoming spirit shines through in all the services and programs we provide. I am often asked as a library professional where I see library services in the future, and I would say this is the future of libraries: engaging the communities we serve and understanding what they want from their institution.”

Since its inception in 2015, the LGBTQ Resource Center has developed a collection of many hundreds of books, as well as films and music, continuously adding new materials and events to the program schedule as it evolves.

“The monthly film series on the second Thursday of each month has been a big hit,” said Hodge, “with over 300 attendees since we began it last fall. Our attendance for these and other events and speakers throughout the year demonstrate that the need for the Resource Center is there and is successfully being met.”

All Pride Month programs are open to the public and take place at the Gulfport Public Library, located at 5501 28th Avenue S., unless otherwise noted.

“We have a large LGBTQ community in Gulfport and they are an integral part of the fabric that makes the city so special to everyone who lives here or visits,” said Mather.

For more information about Pride Month programs or the LGBTQ Resource Center, contact the library at 727-893-1074 or visit the library’s Facebook page at GulfportLibraryFL.

Pride Events Hosted by the LGBTQ Resource Center of the Gulfport Public Library

Thursday, June 1, 7p.m.: Opening Reception for “ArtOut: LGBTQ Artists in Gulfport.”  A group art exhibit in place from June 1 through June 30 will feature the work of 13 visual artists living and/or working in Gulfport. An opening reception will be held at the library. Complimentary beverages and hors d’oeuvre will be offered. “ArtOut” will include selected art by Diane Bains, Jackie Ballard, Jill Barber, Elissa Cardamone, Michael Chapman, Eagle Finegan, Cheryll Grogan, Jeanne Heywood, Carole Lore, Brenda McMahon, Hugo Porcaro, John Shevlin and Mel Zodda. Media represented in the exhibit will include acrylics, oils, watercolors, stained glass, blown glass, ceramics, photography, mixed media and more. FREE.

Thursday, June 8, 7p.m.: LGBTQ Film Series: LIANNA.  Linda Griffiths stars in a classic 1983 film in the lesbian genre as a wife and mother whose life evolves after an affair with a female college professor.  John Sayles directed the film which was considered groundbreaking for the era in which it was released.  Rated R. The film this evening will feature remarks and an introduction by Gulfport writer and self-described “armchair film historian” Rob McCabe. The ongoing series features a free screening of LGBTQ-related films, from classics to recent releases, on the second Thursday of each month. FREE.

Monday, June 12, 7p.m.: Special appearance by Nadine Smith. A particularly engaging speaker, Smith will speak on the topic of “LGBT Equality: the Path Forward.” She will also take questions from audience members. Smith is the co-founder and CEO of Equality Florida, the state’s largest organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. She is a highly visible and recognized LGBTQ activist on a national scale. FREE.

Thursday, June 22, 12 noon: “Out of the Shadows: LGBTQ Homeless Youth Project.” This “lunch and learn” program will feature video footage of theatrical performances depicting the challenges facing the alarming number of LGBTQ youth displaced from their homes in Pinellas County. Members of the LGBTQ Homeless Youth Project will be on hand to speak and take questions. FREE.

Thursday, June 29, 7p.m.: “Keith Haring: Radiant Child.” A special performance of the original one-man show depicting the life and work of famed gay artist Keith Haring. “Radiant Child” is performed by Chad Jacobs, directed by Christopher Rutherford and written by Jeff Norton. A bonus will be Jacobs creating some of Haring’s iconic artwork live throughout the performance. Tickets are on sale at the Gulfport Public Library, Gulfport Casino and Gulfport Beach Bazaar. General admission tickets are $20 each, with general admission doors open at 6:30 p.m. Special Early Access tickets are $25 each and include early admission to the theater at 6 p.m., with an hors d’oeuvre reception and preferred seating. A cash bar will be available to all offering premium wines, beer and other beverages. Note: This event will be held at the Catherine Hickman Theater, 5501 27th Avenue South in Gulfport.

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