Florida: Where Pride Doesn’t End

Founder and president of Trans Florida Proud, based out of Pasco County, Denise Johnson, attended her first Gulfport Pride event. “We would love to have a chapter here in Gulfport,” said Johnson. “We are about educating and advocating for equal rights for everybody.” The Gulfport Peace, Love and Pride festival was Johnson’s third Pride event already this year. She was excited about the turnout and how, she said, “In Florida, Pride never seems to end.”

Gulfport Pride is about more than LGBTQ+ Pride. We’re proud of our hometown. We’re proud of our diversity. We’re proud that everyone is welcome here. This Festival is a celebration for everyone,” stated Amy Oatley and Lynn DiVenuti, organizers of the Gulfport Peace, Love & Pride Festival 2020, which kicked off Sunday, February 16, at the Gulfport Casino and beach. 

The music line up featured nine different artists and bands and was sponsored by ProSisters and Gulfport based ProSisters Radio. ProSisters Radio is a 24/7 streaming radio service created with the intent to help give women musicians another platform in which to promote their music. 

“Gulfport has a reputation and has consistently had a spirit of community. This festival is an aspect of that spirit,” said Lynn Carol Henderson, member of the Women’s Caucus for Art, St. Petersburg branch.  “All the different peace, love and pride elements are brought together here at this event, especially since Gulfport is such a welcoming community.” 

The festival was host to many long-standing supporters of the local LGBTQ community, such as Compassionate Care Clinic, Metro Inclusive Health, along with a few new ones. 

First Unity Spiritual Campus, located at 4th Street and 46th Avenue North, was there promoting their newest initiative, “LGBTQ+,” an inclusive group geared towards the LGBTQ community that will host a gay game night the second Monday of every month from 7 to 9:30 p.m. 

“Socials and other events are in the works to help create an interactive space for the LGBT community in a spiritual and welcoming environment,” said Reverend Kimberly Harrell. 

Founder and president of Trans Florida Proud, Denise Johnson, loved the atmosphere of inclusivity. 

“We would love to have a chapter here in Gulfport and if anyone is looking for diversity training or to come and talk about things like that to their workforce,” she said, “we’re the ones to call for that.”

The proceeds raised during the Gulfport Peace, Love & Pride Festival benefit the ProjectFREE mission. According to their website, ProjectFREE is a non-profit organization “fueled by parents, educators, friends and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” Their mission is to “implement a bold new concept for people with disabilities who have the ability, the desire, and the passion to live and work independently and become an integral part of the community.”

 “We going to do it again next year,” said Oatley and DiVenuti. “We’re going to make this a Gulfport tradition!”

Lynn Carol Henderson, member of the Women’s Caucus for Art, St. Petersburg branch, draws a self-portrait at the group’s drawing station at the Gulfport Peace, Love & Pride Festival 2020 Sunday, February 16 inside the Gulfport Casino. “Who Are You? Express yourself from the outside in and inside out,” was the drawing prompt. “It’s the nuns and the witches, it’s the lesbians and the junior league – we’ve all come together for this event. These are the people that deserve our support,” said Henderson.

V Lacerda and Chris Rogers, from Tarpon Springs, dance with their fur baby Darth Vader, while the Colette and C-Fire band played at the Gulfport Peace, Love & Pride Festival 2020 Sunday, February 16 in front of the Gulfport Casino.

 

 

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