October is becoming a big month for gay pride celebrations across the state of Florida, nearly rivaling June. First, Jacksonville celebrated pride earlier this month, then Orlando. Now three more cities are having gay pride celebrations for their communities, and two of those are scheduled for the same day.
Sarasota Pride celebrates their 25th anniversary this year with a very special day of events, starting at noon on Saturday, October 18 and going on until 6 p.m. at J.D. Hamel Park (2 Marina Plaza, Sarasota). Ocala Pride celebrates their eighth annual festival this year, which will be held on the same day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Citizens’ Circle (at the corner of W. Fort King Street and SE Osceola Avenue, Ocala). Finally, Gainesville Pride will take place on Saturday, October 25 from noon to 9 p.m. at Bo Diddley Community Plaza (111 E. University Avenue, Gainesville).
Sarasota Pride’s event calendar is jam-packed. The day starts off at noon with introductions by emcee Lindsay Carlton, music by DJ Lucy Blu, and a vocal performance from the Suncoast’s gay chorus, Diversity: The Voices of Sarasota. At 12:20 there will be a live performance of excerpts from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, followed by the show DRAGtastic! at 12:40.
The opening ceremonies for Sarasota Pride start at 2 p.m., with local West Coast favorites Karmic Tattoo performing right afterwards, between 2:20 and 2:30. At 4 p.m., the headliner of the event, Dario, will take the stage. Dario, a Tucson, Arizona native, has released six studio albums and has toured with such recording acts as Destiny’s Child and K-Ci and JoJo. Sarasota Pride is one of the stops on the “Evolution Tour,” which promotes his current album. The six-member group Waking Giants will perform after Dario at 5 p.m.
In addition to the live entertainment, Sarasota Pride will feature over 70 tents manned by vendors, advocacy and service organizations, and others. There will also be food trucks, a Tiki Bar, and a “Family Zone” with games and attractions for children, sponsored by Church of the Trinity. Sponsors of Sarasota Pride include Macy’s, Wells Fargo, Tropicana, Hyatt Regency, Equality Florida, and Sarasota Ford.
Ocala Pride will feature a festival, with vendors, food and live entertainment, all happening at Citizens’ Square in the city’s downtown. The headliner for this event is DJ Chi Chi LaRue, who is flying out from West Hollywood to emcee and DJ this pride event. The Orlando Gay Chorus is also coming to Ocala to perform for the crowds. Local talent performing includes Bearonce, Samantha Foxx, Tiffani Ross, Raquel Payne, Brittani Michaels, Anita Waistline, Cesar, Cody Jaymes, Lady Mekaella Demure, Miranda Madison, and Outcast Uprising. Tim Tomato the Clown will be entertaining parents and kids in the family area. This event is free to the public, and organizers ask that you bring donations of school supplies, food, and pet food if at all possible, as these donations will be given to various food banks and charities across Marion County.
The Ocala Pride after-party starts at 5 p.m. over at The Copa (2330 S. Pine Avenue, Ocala) and will be going on all night long. Chi Chi LaRue will be the guest DJ at the club this evening, and there will be a Pride-themed drag show featuring Constance Cummins, Rusti Fawcett, Brittani Michaels, Anita Waistline and special guest Juliana DeMarco.
Gainesville Pride starts partying the night before the main event. On Friday, October 24, there will be a Pride Pub Crawl that starts at 9 p.m. and is sponsored by the Gator Bears and the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida. The first stop on the Pub Crawl is The Jones B-Side (203 SW 2nd Avenue, Gainesville) and will take partygoers along on a fun trip, allowing people to partake in food and drink specials. The Pub Crawl’s final stop of the evening will be the University Club (18 E. University Avenue, Gainesville). Tickets cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Tickets can be purchased by going to the Pride Community Center offices, located at 3131 NW 13th Street, Suite 62 in Gainesville.
On Saturday, October 25, there will be a pride parade and festival. The parade starts first, at noon, kicking off from the corner of 7th Street and West University Avenue, proceeding east on University Avenue to the intersection of University Avenue and Main Street. The parade will then turn right on South Main Street and taper off at SE 1st Avenue. The festival will start at 1 p.m. at Bo Diddley Community Plaza, and will feature dozens of vendors and many local entertainment acts. The City of Gainesville Department of Cultural Affairs is a co-sponsor of Gainesville Pride, along with the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida.