It was a collaborative idea that began with three people and then with a few weeks notice to the public, it evolved organically into a history-making event for hundreds who made it a point of pride to participate.
First, people gathered just across the street from the historic Casino Ballroom, 5500 Shore Boulevard S. The city permit stated it was to be a sidewalk march adjacent to Beach Boulevard, said City Manager Jim O’Reilly.
Next, the Gulfport Gecko Amalgamated Marching Band chose the west sidewalk to get into formation.
At about 6 p.m., on Thursday, May 30, the first official Gay Pride Friends of Dorothy March began in Gulfport as a grassroots event.
Within one block, the exuberance poured onto the street. Traffic stopped. People watched from vehicles and verandas. A local business owner handed out cold bottles of water. Multiple journalists from three press outlets followed the action with cameras. And, the band began playing the “Village People – YMCA” song.
Then, the flashing lights of a law enforcement squad vehicle lit up the route as Gulfport Police Officer Zack Mills led marching participants up the street to the annual Gay Pride flag raising ceremony held immediately afterward at the city’s library. He was smiling all the way.