Key West does PRIDE with splashy pool parties, on-the-water adventures, beach parties, late-night dance parties, a race for tutu-wearing competitors, an intriguing film premiere and a lively community, hometown parade. Set for Wednesday through Sunday, June 11-15, the festival spotlights the all-accepting diversity that has helped make Key West an internationally renowned gay and lesbian vacation spot.
Key West Pride is to kick off with an all-welcome “Bow Ties & Bubbly” bash set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at the acclaimed Island House Resort, 1129 Fleming St.
Throughout the week of the festival, attendees can vie for the titles of Mr., Ms. and Miss Key West Pride at evening pageants take advantage of discounts during the Coconut Pride Shop Crawl, or dress in a tutu to race in a wacky 10k relay. Other festival attractions include an acclaimed trolley tour showcasing Key West’s LGBT heritage and hotspots, a marriage equality “meet and greet,” daytime and late-night parties at local clubs and resorts, a “Ghosts & Gravestones” tour spotlighting the island’s spookiest sites, drag shows, a street fair on Key West’s famed Duval Street, a shopping soiree and on-the-water activities ranging from snorkeling to paddle boarding.
This year Key West Pride welcomes Rob Smith as its Parade Grand Marshall. Rob is an Iraq war veteran, author, public speaker, and LGBT activist. Rob was one of the activists arrested during a DADT protest at the White House. He was guest of President Obama at the legislation signing ceremony repealing DADT. His memoir, Closets, Combat, and Coming Out: Coming of Age as a Gay Man in the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Army, was released in January 2014. Key West Pride attendees will have the opportunity to personally meet Rob at a book reading/signing event.
Among scheduled highlights is the Key West premiere of a film by activist Erin Davies. After her Volkswagen Beetle was defaced with anti-gay graffiti because of its rainbow sticker, she turned the negative act into an inspiring odyssey and filmed her “fag bug’s” journey to all 50 United States. Pride attendees can view the resulting documentary, “Fag Bug Nation,” meet Davies and learn how her rainbow vehicle has become a catalyst for equality. Events are set for 8 p.m. Saturday, June 14, poolside at Alexander’s Guesthouse, 1118 Fleming St and 1 p.m. Sunday, June 15 at Unity of the Keys Spiritual Center.
The festival’s culmination is to be the Key West Pride Parade down Duval Street, scheduled at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 15. Master of Ceremony Police Chief Donie Lee will once again escort the parade down Duval Street. This year, for the first time, Chief Lee will be joined by a Joint Military Color Guard. The procession typically features walking groups, a 100-foot rainbow flag, lavishly decorated floats and more. Everyone is invited to participate — whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight or transgendered — to celebrate Key West’s enthusiastic diversity.
Event information: www.keywestpride.org
Gay Key West visitor information: www.gaykeywestfl.com, or 305.294.4603