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Pride in the park

Students walking by the Marshall Center on Valentine’s Day might have seen a lovely young woman scurrying around in a wedding dress. That was Tamara Wasserman, vice president of P.R.I.D.E. Alliance, the USF organization for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (GLBT) students.

Over the weekend, she and treasurer Tyler Smith were on hand at Al Lopez Park to pass out pamphlets announcing upcoming events, which include the FCPC conference and Winter Pride. Events like these gather large crowds of GLBT people in communities around the world.

Both P.R.I.D.E Alliance and the USF Alumni Association were there to show the gay community of Tampa that USF accepts diversity in all forms. The alumni booth was run by Mark R. Hafen, a geography professor at USF.

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (a drag advocate organization) wore wedding veils and pirate hats as they strolled about, passing out pamphlets and posing for pictures.

Down the line of white tents of vendors, a wide array of organizations and businesses were on hand to show their support for the gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people in Tampa. Attorneys, chiropractors and even churches were seeking new members and clients.

A stage was set up and Emcee Suede, a fast-talking woman with a big smile, introduced the various bands and entertainment for the day.

Members of ROTC (Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps) strut their stuff to “I Like it Like That.” MONTAGE PHOTO/JOSE LOPEZ JR.

“We need Pride events because it gives us complete permission to be who we are,” she said. “We can show people that we’re not some big, scary creature.”

The highlight of the show was the ROTC (Righteously Outrageous Twirling Corps), who gathered the biggest crowd as they twirled fake guns and purple and pink flags to the song “I Like It Like That.” Despite their military-sounding abbreviation and camouflage pants, ROTC became a fun social gathering. The group began as a protest against the military policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

For the political aficionados, there were booths devoted to Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama. Candidates for state offices were also in attendance seeking votes.