Come out and celebrate

St. Petersburg knows how to throw a party to attract all crowds. The St. Pete Pride Promenade and Street Festival caters to all of its GLBTQQA – a lengthy anagram that stands for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning and allies – community. The Promenade and Street Festival is the zenith of a month-long of festivities happening in and around St. Petersburg and Tampa this June. This year, StPetePride.com estimates the number of people strolling around downtown St. Petersburg will surpass the 50,000 in attendance last year. It is the largest Gay Pride celebration in Florida and second only to Atlanta in the Southeast.

Special events planned for this year include a tribute to Ryan Skipper, who was murdered in March because of his homosexuality. Erin Davies, a New York college student whose car was vandalized with anti-gay slurs, will drive her graffiti-covered VW Bug through the parade as part of her cross-country trip to promote tolerance. This year’s grand marshal is none other than Susan Stanton, the Largo city manager fired for planning to make the transition to become a woman.

June has been considered a time for Gay Pride since 1970, when the burgeoning Gay Liberation groups in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles held rallies to commemorate the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. It became a more official gathering when President Clinton declared June 2000 to be Gay Pride Month.

USF-St. Petersburg has gotten into the spirit of Pride Month. On June 7, the campus hosted a GLBT History Film and Lecture event about “homophobic crusades of the 1950s and 1960s led by the State of Florida,” according to StPetePride.com. As for the Tampa campus, the P.R.I.D.E. Alliance will carpool to St. Petersburg to celebrate diversity with the rest of the area.

As always, protestors are expected, but this year they will be confined to one space. The Free Speech Area – oddly enough adjacent to the Sirius Satellite Dance Floor – will allow protestors to have their say while relegating them to one specific area.

At the other end of the street is the Kid’s Zone, at Central Avenue and 23rd Street. A Slip n’ Slide will keep children cool, while face painting, arts and crafts and a giant Spiderman bouncy castle will keep them occupied. Parents can use an RV Hospitality Room – provided by Rainbow RV – to change diapers, nurse infants and take a break from the summer heat.

The parade kicks off at 10 a.m. on Saturday along Third Avenue, 30th Street and Central Avenue . Parade participants include people representing churches, politicians and gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses and newspapers.

Following the parade, participants can attendthe street festival from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. vendors will be along Central Ave. Members of various GLBT activist groups will also be there,seeking signatures on a variety of petitions.

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