In the name of love (pride)
As Orlando prepares for Come Out With Pride, we highlight some reasons to be proud of our LGBT community
Published: October 6, 2011
Pleasing everyone isn’t always easy. Moving the event to Saturday has spurred an unexpected religious conflict, even if it may appease some of the churches along the route. The solemn Jewish holiday of fasting, Yom Kippur, falls on the same day as the parade, meaning that some of the area’s prominent bar owners and longtime participants – like Parliament House owners Don Granatstein and Susan Unger – may have to sit out the bacchanalia. (“We are taking that into consideration for next year’s planning,” Audebert says.) Also a consideration is the suggestion that the group may have to start charging admission to the parade – an idea floated after last year’s Come Out With Pride that Audebert says “right now I’m opposed to.”
But at its core, Come Out With Pride remains a florid sight to behold and a sometimes thumping bassline in which to lose yourself. The notion that it’s grown too big for its rather small britches is counterintuitive, with local activist groups like Equality Florida throwing as much respect in the direction of the proceedings as the corporate sponsors involved.
“I never thought in a million years that this little gathering of friends marching with banners would become the huge event that it has become,” says Commissioner Sheehan in her email. “I am proud of the years that I spent on Orlando Regional Pride, and very proud of what the event has become, one of the largest events that draws the largest crowds in downtown Orlando. It is because we are, as a community, committed to standing up to prejudice, to being exactly who we are, and for being just really creative and a fun group of folks.”
That fun may be the event’s key point. The enormous size of Come Out With Pride is more a testament to its origins than it may appear on the surface, says longtime local gay activist and playwright Michael Wanzie – even in its trash-can rolling days, it was a “reprieve from being political all the time.”
“Although it’s less and less as time goes on, there have been some horrible conflicts over the years about wearing too much leather or going in drag,” he says. “The whole point of pride parades around the country is not to put our best face on for the general public. It’s our celebration of who we are.”
A local LGBT marching band finds strength in numbers
By Jessica Bryce Young
When Roy Clement moved to Orlando more than 10 years ago, he hoped to join a band similar to the one he’d played with previously, the San Francisco Lesbian/Gay Freedom Band. The SFLGFB, “the first openly gay musical group in the world,” was founded in 1978 as a response to Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade; its first public appearance was marching behind Harvey Milk in a parade in ’78, and it continues as a fixture at various charity walks and neighborhood festivals. Clement, an arts administrator and proficient multi-instrumentalist, had fond memories of the community involvement that band enjoyed and wanted to create a group with the same vision of fun and diversity.