Home Features Things Get Extra Colorful at Key West Pride

Things Get Extra Colorful at Key West Pride

PHOTO: Florida Keys News Bureau

After Gay Disney in Orlando next weekend, but before Wilton Manors’ Stonewall celebrations later in June, Pride dips south to touch down in Key West between the 6th (or so) and the 10th.

With an official motto of “One Human Family” and its legendarily laidback attitude, The Conch Republic, is a particularly welcoming and copacetic place to get your Pride on. The Key West Business Guild, the nation’s oldest Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, assembles a very fun week of events, including pool parties and late-night soirées, the finale of a North American cocktail contest, theatrical readings, film screenings, a Pride street fair, pageants and, of course, a parade.

We’ve got your pocket guide to all the shenanigans. 

The Main Events

The two headline events of Key West Pride are a street fair on Saturday, June 9 and the parade on Sunday, June 10, which runs along Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean (just imagine getting from one to the other without having to drive across The Everglades!).

The parade steps off at the very civilized hour of 5pm — no noon start times on Sundays here! And you can take in the whole thing and still make it to La Te Da in plenty of time for tea dance at 7. That’s just the way Key West rolls.


Key West is known for its spirits. And I’m not just talking Papa Hemingway’s ghost.

As Jimmy Buffet (and just about anyone who’s ever been to The Southernmost Point) can tell you, Key West takes cocktailing seriously. If Team USA had a drinking squad, they’d probably train in The Conch Republic.

Along with the street fair and parade, the third anchor of Pride is the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic. This mixology competition sees regional winners from LGBT bars in 14 North American cities tasked with creating a Key West cocktail that embodies the island’s creativity and free spirit. The competition kicks off Wednesday night at Island House, with events daily throughout the weekend.

Local Color

This year’s parade will feature a 100-foot section of the famed 1.25-mile-long Sea-to-Sea rainbow flag that Key West Pride debuted in 2003, a tribute to Gilbert Baker, creator of the original rainbow flag.

Believe it or not, Baker’s original design featured eight stripes, not just the six we see on rainbow flags worldwide today. The other two colors, hot pink and turquoise, were dropped from the official design due to “manufacturing issues’ when the flag quickly grew in popularity and started being mass produced.

The Sea-to-Sea flag, however, features all eight of Baker’s original stripes. Don’t you ever tell a Key West queen she can’t have her hot pink and turquoise because of “manufacturing issues!”


Show business seems to be in the water in Key West, and the week’s festivities kick off on Saturday June 2 with Pride Follies, a variety show at Key West Theater (512 Eaton St; Tix: $15–30, keystix.com) that promises “the best (and sometimes the worst) of local Key West performing artists.” Bar service is available during the performance (natch!).

Later in the week, you can catch stage readings of plays including Douglas Carter Beane’s The Little Dog Laughed and Moises Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde. And if you prefer your performances at a safe remove, during Pride weekend, Tropic Cinema (416 Eaton St; tropiccinema.com) is holding several screenings of BPM, last year’s excellent French feature about life, love, and activism at the height of the AIDS crisis.


If you enjoy a good pageant, Key West Pride is hosting three of them: Miss, Ms., and Mr. Key West Pride. The weekend also features the Miss Paradise Female Impersonator Pageant, the local qualifier for Miss Florida Female Impersonator.


The Key West Business Guild’s official Pride schedule for Sunday begins at 11am with a Christian worship service at Metropolitan Community Church and an ecumenical service at Unity of the Keys Spiritual Center. These are followed promptly at noon by a naked pool party at Island House. Because Key West.

Gary Salazar, left, and Maria Walden, right, are the first to tread across Duval Street in Key West, Fla., on a new rainbow crosswalk just after four were installed at Duval and Petronia streets Thursday, May 28, 2015. The crosswalks feature bands of all six colors of the rainbow flag, an internationally recognized symbol of gay and lesbian unity. They are composed of pre-formed thermoplastic color blocks alternating with white stripes and heat-treated to become a permanent part of the pavement.

Key West Pride Highlights

Wednesday June 6

Kickoff Celebration: Key West Pride and The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic Championship

5–9pm. Stoli open bar 5–7pm. Island House (1129 Fleming St). 18+, 21 to drink. islandhousekeywest.com.

Reading of Cloudburst presented by Fringe Theater

7pm. FREE. Key West Theater (512 Eaton St). thekeywesttheater.com.

Miss Pride Pageant

8pm. 801 Bar Cabaret (801 Duval St). Reservations: 801bourbon.com.

Thursday June 7

Pride Pool Party

1–5pm. $5 Tito’s Vodka drinks. Equator Resort (822 Fleming St). equatorresort.com.

The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic: Elimination Event I

6:30pm (doors at 5pm). FREE. 21+ only. Aqua (711 Duval St). aquakeywest.com.  

Reading of The Little Dog Laughed presented by Fringe Theater

7pm. FREE. Key West Theater (512 Eaton St). thekeywesttheater.com.

Ms. Key West Pride 2018 Pageant

7pm. 801 Bar Cabaret (801 Duval St). 801bourbon.com.

Friday June 8

Pool Party: Singles, Couples & Thruples, Oh My!

Noon–5pm. Clothing optional. Island House (1129 Fleming St). islandhousekeywest.com.

The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic: Elimination Event II

6pm (doors at 5pm). FREE. 21+ only.801 (801 Duval St). 801bourbon.com.

Stage reading of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde

6pm. Waterfront Playhouse (407 Wall St). Tix ($20): waterfrontplayhouse.org.

Top Performer Contest

8pm. Garden Bar Stage at Bourbon St. Pub (724 Duval St). bourbonstpub.com.

Mr. Key West Pride Contest

8pm. Bourbon St. Pub (724 Duval St). bourbonstpub.com.

Glow Party

Featuring American Idol contestant Les Green and his band, Patrick and the Swayzees.

9pm. Aqua Sidebar (711 Duval St). aquakeywest.com

Fetish Ball (men only)

10pm. 1 Saloon (801 Duval St). 801bourbon.com.

Saturday June 9

Key West Pride Street Fair

10am–7pm. Duval St.

Pride Pool Party

Noon–8pm. Bourbon St Pub (724 Duval St). bourbonstpub.com.

Pool Party: BAM and Kat present R U Wet Yet

Noon. Alexander’s Guesthouse (1118 Fleming St). alexanderskeywest.com.

Stage reading of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde

6pm. Waterfront Playhouse (407 Wall St). Tix ($20): waterfrontplayhouse.org.

The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic: Championship Finale

With performances by Debby Holiday and LaToya London.

6:30pm. FREE. 21+ only. Main stage outside Bourbon St. Pub (724 Duval St). bourbonstpub.com.

Miss Paradise Female Impersonator Pageant

Preliminary for the Miss Florida Female Impersonator Pageant

8pm (doors at 7pm). Studios of Key West (533 Eaton St).

Purgatory: Foam Party & Fetish Event (men only)

10pm. FREE clothes check. Bourbon St. Pub (724 Duval St). bourbonstpub.com.

Sunday June 10

MCC Pride Service

11am. Metropolitan Community Church (1215 Petronia St). mcckeywest.com.  

Unity of the Keys Pride Service

11am. Unity of the Keys (1011 Virginia St). unityofthekeys.org.

Naked Pool Party (men only)

Noon–4pm. Island House (1129 Fleming St). islandhousekeywest.com.

Pride Karaoke

4pm. Parade viewing area at 801 (801 Duval St). 801bourbon.com.

Key West Pride Parade

5pm. Duval St, from The Gulf to The Atlantic.

Tea Dance

7pm. La Te Da (1125 Duval St). lateda.com.

Tea Dance After Party

9pm–midnight. Mangoes (700 Duval St). mangoeskeywest.com.

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