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St Pete bannerThe 11th annual St. Pete Pride festivities start on Wednesday, June 26, and run through Sunday, June 30. The centerpiece events, consisting of the street festival and promenade, will be held on Saturday, June 29.

 St Pete bannerThe 11th annual St. Pete Pride festivities start on Wednesday, June 26, and run through Sunday, June 30. The centerpiece events, consisting of the street festival and promenade, will be held on Saturday, June 29.

 St Pete 1St. Pete Pride started in 2003 after people from Pinellas County were unhappy with the way a former pride organization, the Greater Tampa Bay Pride, served the LGBT population on the west side of Tampa Bay. Between ten and thirteen thousand people attended the inaugural St. Pete Pride in 2003; Amber Thessen, historian at the Poynter Memorial Library at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, noted that the very first parade took less than 15 minnutes to walk from start to finish. By 2011, the parade would last more than four hours and include over 100,000 attendees. What started out so small 10 years ago has now grown to become not only the largest gay pride event in the state of Florida, but also the largest one in the South outside of Atlanta (whose yearly pride has existed a lot longer, since 1971). All of the members of the St. Petersburg City Council, as well as the mayor of Tampa, Bob Buckhorn, have signed proclamations for LGBT Pride Month and given them to St. Pete Pride.

 St Pete2This year’s festivities, referred to as a “carnivale,” stretch across five days, and altogether bring more people to St. Pete than any other event sponsored by the city. The events start on Wednesday with a “Week of Pride” reception at the Bluelucy Gallery, 653 Central Avenue, from 6 to 10 p.m. 15 LGBT artists will be presenting their works that Saturday from 6 to 11 p.m.

 

On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (TIGLFF) hosts a screening of the 1967 Jacqueline Susann camp classic “Valley of the Dolls” emceed by New York City drag queen Hedda Lettuce. Hedda will be on hand for running commentary and to engage the audience with a fabulously fun time. Showtime is at 7:30 p.m. at the Palladium Theatre in St. Petersburg. Tickets cost $15 ($20 premium).

 St Pete3Friday brings a concert to support St. Pete Pride’s community grants program. “27-82,” so named for St. Petersburg’s latitude and longitude west of the Prime Meridian and north of the Equator, hosts two headlining acts this year: duo Uh Huh Her and singer-songwriter Daphne Willis. Uh Huh Her’s repertoire features both rock and electropop sounds, while Daphne’s sound is described as pop mixed with a soulful alternative feeling. These bands will be performing at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg, with tickets priced at $25 ($35 at the door). All proceeds go to non-profits geared toward improving the quality of life of LGBT people in Tampa Bay.

 The main events are of course the street festival and promenade, which everyone who’s anyone will be going out there that Saturday! The promenade will be starting at 10 a.m. The main route will be in the Grand Central District, on Central Avenue between 21st and 29th Streets. Grand Marshals for the parade include Mark & Carrie, who own MC Film and currently lead the GaYbor Coalition (and of course you can read their column here in Hotspots every week!); Susan McGrath, president of the Stonewall Democrats of Pinellas County; and Metro Wellness & Community Centers. After the parade, there of course is the street festival, which brings together over 100 businesses and organizations St Pete4from across Tampa Bay. It’s a great place to network, visit old friends, make new ones, and also buy Pride-related memorabilia. A pool party ends the weekend on Sunday at the Flamingo Resort and Entertainment Center, located at 4601 34th Street South in St. Petersburg.

 Pride organizers are hoping to break records this year, especially coming off such momentous milestones as Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota committing marriage equality to law. In such heady times, it is more important than ever to make a stand and show off your pride openly, and what better place to do that than Florida’s largest gay pride celebration, St. Pete Pride?

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