Get to know St. Pete Pride Executive Director Luke Blankenship

The 25-year-old lifelong Tampa resident walks the walk when it comes to supporting our LGBTQ+ communities.

click to enlarge Get to know St. Pete Pride Executive Director Luke Blankenship
Courtesy Visit Tampa Gay

Luke Blankenship, 25, helms the organization that puts together the state’s largest LGBTQ Pride celebration, St. Pete Pride. He serves as executive director and has been involved with the organization for the last five years. “I handle the day-to-day operations, which include sponsorship sales, event planning and volunteer development,” he says. “I started as a general volunteer and worked my way through every facet of the organization.”

He lives in north St. Petersburg, giving him access to the best of both worlds — downtown St. Pete and Tampa. He has been in the Tampa Bay area for 20 years and counting — he grew up in Lutz, just outside of Tampa. “It’s a quaint place and very family-focused,” he says. “It’s grown so much in the last 20 years! Also, it’s pronounced ‘loots.’ If you pronounce it like the pretzel brand Utz to a local, you will be laughed at!”

Besides St. Pete Pride, Luke is involved with the Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and InterPride, to name a few. “Every day I talk about putting on Florida’s largest Pride — many discussions on how we can make our world-class events better and better with a variety of people and organizations,” Luke says. “I’m a friendly acquaintance with hundreds of organizations throughout the area. Usually, when I’m meeting with company representatives, they break away from their standard 9-to-5 day jobs to talk about our colorful parade.”

When he’s not slaving away for the greater good of Tampa Bay’s LGBTQ community, he finds fun in the usual activities other 20somethings do, like going out to local bars and clubs. “I’m a bit of a nerd, as I’m very much into fantasy football and following what’s going on in the sports world,” he says. “I am in a Dynasty Fantasy Football league that mimics the NFL, and it’s a nice reprieve from daily life — heading into year six with the same group of folks. I also dabble in podcasting and am always looking for the next great RPG to plug into my Xbox.”

So why does the exec director of Florida’s largest Pride organization think others will love Tampa Bay?

“Unlike so many places across the country, we are growing. Heck, we aren’t just growing, we are exploding!” Luke says. “Something that is sometimes talked about as a negative, but really isn’t, is how many people weren’t raised here. It provides a variety of different backgrounds and creative ideas. The cost of living isn’t absurd, and we are a top 15 media market with a small-town feel.”

“Not to mention,” he adds pragmatically, “no state or personal income tax.”

*this interview originally appeared in the publication Visit Tampa Gay.

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