Get ready for Tampa’s biggest Pride festival yet.
This year is the fifth anniversary of Tampa Pride, and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City; the community is celebrating a half-century of LGBTQ+ liberation.
And Tampa Pride’s theme this year? Milestones.
The president of Tampa Pride, Carrie West, said the nonprofit has come a long way over the past five years.
“We are known in the Pride organization and really in WorldPride that we were the ‘baby Pride,’” West said. “But we’re not the baby Pride anymore. We’re grown up in our fifth year.”
The fifth annual Tampa Pride Diversity Parade will be March 30 in the GaYBOR District (aka historic Ybor City). The parade will move east from the corner of Nuccio Parkway and East 7th Avenue, down 7th to North 20th Street, where it will turn north to disperse.
The participants will be announced from the balcony of Hamburger Mary’s Tampa. The event begins at noon in front of Centro Ybor with a special community tribute and the parade itself starts at 1 p.m.
Third in the precession of the parade will be Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, participating in his final Pride as mayor.
“We greatly support everything he’s done in helping Tampa Pride over the years,” West said.
Metro Inclusive Health will be honored as Tampa Pride’s business of the year. In the parade, 80 members of Metro will carry a huge Key West rainbow flag that will take up a 100-foot section of the parade. The Tampa Bay Pride Band will perform in the parade, as well, and will be honored for their work in the community.
In addition to the parade, a Tampa Pride Street Festival will take place the same day in the Hillsborough Community College Ybor City campus parking lot, on the northwest corner of East 8th Avenue and North 15th Street. The festival will kick off at 9:45 a.m. with the Tampa Pride Band, followed by guest speakers and entertainment.
Pat Frank, Hillsborough County clerk of court, will be honored by Tampa Pride at the festival as an LGBTQ+ community supporter. In the late 1970s, Frank was one of only a few legislators to vote against a ban on same-sex couple adoptions. She was the first woman admitted to the Georgetown University School of Law and served in the Florida Senate from 1978-1988.
Another woman being spotlighted by Tampa Pride is Amy DiMilo, a trans woman who entertains at local spots like The Honey Pot in Ybor City. Activists Tyler Reed and Nick Staszak, a young couple whom West called the “next generation,” will also be honored.
“The biggest challenge this year will be including the young people,” West said. “A lot of them are not really participating… Pride is a celebration of diversity but we also have to include what we’ve accomplished.
“That’s one of the things out here that some of the young people don’t really acknowledge… They haven’t really faced discrimination that much yet. That’s one thing that’s kind of surprising. We’re trying to get the youth involved and trying to tell them the story about what has happened to us.”
According to West, at least 10 businesses in Ybor City hit record sales at last year’s parade.
“The festival area has grown so that we’ve expanding right to the brim and hopefully we’ll do more expansion next year,” he said.
Mayoral candidates Jane Castor and David Straz are both expected to attend this year’s festival. We all know that Castor is openly gay and an advocate of LGBTQ+ rights; Straz is a supporter, too.
“People wonder if [Straz] is [supporting Tampa Pride] just for this year, but no. The Straz Foundation has been doing it for years,” West said.
West is confident in this year’s festivities will themselves be a milestone.
“It’s an exciting time for all of us. Up and down 7th Avenue we have just been hearing a lot of buzz about the whole work of Tampa Pride,” he said.
In addition to the big day on March 30, Tampa Pride is hosting several supporting events leading up to the big day.
Tampa Pride Interfaith Service
Multiple faiths will blend their traditions together for an interfaith worship service at the Metropolitan Community Church of Tampa. The writings of civil rights leaders will be read to celebrate the inherent worth and dignity of all people.
Mon., March 25, 7 p.m. 408 E. Cayuga St., Tampa. Free.
LGBTea Party at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts
The Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, in collaboration with Tampa Pride, will host a program including live body painting, featuring the artist Nicole Hays from Skin Wars. Tampa Pride’s Michael Sheehan will photograph the event and display a pop-up show featuring some of Nicole’s past works. Parts of the University of South Florida’s LGBTQ+ collection will be on display and there will be a special performance by the Tampa Bay Pride Band and dancers from Project Alchemy, led by Alex Jones. Ten percent of funds raised for the event will be donated to Tampa Pride to support the LGBTQ+ community.
Tues., March 26, 5:30-7:30 p.m. 400 N. Ashley Dr., Tampa. Free.
Tampa Pride 2019 VIP Sponsors Party
Hang out with the people who make Tampa Pride possible at the Florida Aquarium. There will be light appetizers, a cash bar and a chance to win two round-trip tickets to Key West sponsored by Silver Airways. Jayson Clancey will DJ the event and TV host Russell Rhodes will emcee.
Thurs., March 28, 7-10:30 p.m. 701 Channelside Dr., Tampa. $45.
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