This year’s St. Petersburg Pride celebration was extra sparkly, thanks to a timely Supreme Court decision, despite some heavy downpours and stiff winds. Years of systemic discrimination have hardened the LGBT community, so a little inclement weather did little to discourage crowds, open convertible tops, and rainbow fervor.
I walked for the second year with the PwC group, near the end of the parade lineup. Along with heavyweights like Macy’s, Citigroup, Ernst & Young, Progressive, Wells Fargo, and major local politicians (Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn), as well as candidates for office (Darden Rice, Rick Kriseman), we tossed beads and waved through the historic Kenwood section of St. Petersburg, and down Central Avenue.
In the past, Pride has been an opportunity to see and be seen, diet, wear lots of exposed skin, and drink. This year’s event was the first where it felt truly like a gathering of like minds, with a shared mission, and a unified voice.
Instead of being dominated by fetish groups and overt sexuality, it was more political, more about equality. I noticed many straight couples and families walking alongside us, or waving on the sidelines, supplementing the LGBT spectrum. This is how it should be.
We just went through the paces in Hillsborough County to repeal a ban on public promotion of gay pride events in county facilities (like libraries), where Pride celebrations were singled out for being too adult. Those commissioners forgot that the mainÂ GasparillaÂ parade, a Tampa tradition, formerly a family event, has devolved into drunken street fighting and skimpy tee shirts more than wholesome family messages.
Nonetheless, the ban was repealed, and this year’s Pride was all positive energy, good vibes, and happy, smiling faces.
My friend Nick Cardello takes photos at major gay events around town – check out some of his shots below.