Five Questions with John and Nancy Desmond

Longtime residents of the Tampa Bay area, John and Nancy Desmond have proven themselves to be staunch LGBT allies. The couple founded the Tampa chapter of PFLAG, and they are on the planning committee for the upcoming Tampa Pride celebrations in March. I asked them five questions about their community service endeavors in this profile for Hotspots Central.

How excited are you for the upcoming Pride celebrations in March? What can you reveal to us now?

John: Tampa Pride gets bigger and better every year, and our expectations grow with it! This year’s theme is “Superheroes” and new events include an art Show at HCC Ybor on December 13, a fun run early next year to include a kids’ run and a high-heel trot, and Carnival Cruise Line’s first-ever gay cruise with hosts Mark & Carrie on March 27 for five nights.

What are some of the things you like the most about being involved in Tampa Pride?

Nancy: We love being involved with Tampa’s LGBTQ movers, shakers and twerkers! We’ve learned loads about event planning, fundraising, city services and all the other stuff that goes into pulling off a major Pride celebration; and, as a straight couple, we’ve had the unique honor of being welcomed behind the scenes of Ybor’s nightlife. As PFLAG parents, we enjoy reaching out to college youth across the nation to welcome them as part of Tampa Pride.

How can the community support Tampa Pride in the coming months?

John: Every Pride needs its supporters and sponsors. Reach out to your employer, school and network to see if they would like to be a sponsor, a festival vendor, a parade participant or donate to the cause. You can attend our fundraising events, such as Drag Queen Bingo at Hamburger Mary’s every month until Pride, and the Miss Tampa Pride Pageant in January. Event day volunteers are always needed. Visit the website for details: www.tampapride.org.

You are also still very involved in the Tampa chapter of PFLAG. How did you discover PFLAG?

Nancy: Most parents who come to PFLAG know nothing about sexual orientation or gender identity, and neither did we. When our adult son came out to us as gay, he also introduced us to his inclusive UCC church. Back in Florida we found our own UCC church that introduced us to a local PFLAG chapter. It was an eye-opener. We realized the need for an active chapter in Tampa, and jumped in with both feet.

What’s coming up for PFLAG Tampa? How can people who are interested attend a meeting?

John: The heart of PFLAG is our support group meetings. We have two: one in English and one in Spanish. Meeting dates, times and locations are on our website, pflagtampa.org, and on our Facebook pages. They provide a safe space for discourse among LGBTQ people and their parents, families, friends and allies. Any and all are welcome.

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Mike Halterman
Mike Halterman has been the editor of Hotspots Central since its launch in July 2016. He joined the Hotspots Media Group family as editor of Hotspots' South Florida magazine in June 2013. A former "40 Under 40" honoree in The Advocate magazine, Mike lives in the Tampa Bay area.