The recent announcement by Pride South Florida that it will hold just one weekend of festivities this year is still being processed by much of South Florida’s LGBT community, but questions are beginning to bubble to the surface.
The first inquiry involves the dates of Pride South Florida’s schedule of events, June 13-14. This weekend has traditionally been the dates for Key West Pride. Norm Kent, Co-Chairman for Pride South Florida, does not see a conflict.
“It’s 225 miles apart,” Kent said.
Matt Hon, executive director of the Key West Business Guild, which assists in the production of Key West Pride, also does not see a conflict.
“It won’t be any different than any other pride,” Hon said. “We attract people from all over the world — not just from South Florida.”
Kent agreed and said reporters should focus on choices as opposed to conflicts.
“You guys sound like Fox News,” Kent scoffed. “We’re giving people more choices.”
The choice Pride South Florida is offering is a more family friendly event, organizers said. John Fugate, Pride South Florida Media Outreach and Exhibits Manager, said there would be activities and areas for families with children on Saturday at Fort Lauderdale’s Holiday Park. Fugate said already there are 350 families “lined up” to attend and participate in Sunday’s parade in Wilton Manors.
Last year Pride South Florida took over the Stonewall Street Festival and lost money. Afterwards several prominent members resigned leaving the committee in debt and in flux. Kent, who joined PSF in September, said the board had no choice but to move the event to a later date. So they decided to combine the March event with the June event and have only one celebration in Broward County this year with the festival taking place in Fort Lauderdale and the parade in Wilton Manors.
In addition to Key West Pride being on the same weekend, the popular Gay Days is the weekend before in Orlando and typically draws a large audience from South Florida.
Kent, however, does not believe either event will affect the turn out for Pride South Florida festival and parade.
Interestingly enough, the board of Pride South Florida was singing a different tune two years ago when Miami’s Winter Party moved their event to the same weekend as PSF. Fugate said the event had a serious effect on their turnout.
“We were livid,” Fugate said. “When they did that our attendance dwindled.”
This isn’t first time two popular gay events have collided in South Florida either. Last November, Gays Days launched a new event in Fort Lauderdale on the same weekend as The White Party.
“We were saddened by their (Gay Days) choice of dates,” said Jonathan Welsh, spokesman for the White Party.
In Key West, Hon is also confident their pride will not be affected by Fort Lauderdale’s event.
“It’s not just an LGBT pride event,” Hon said. “We are an island pride that attracts all walks of life. It’s more about our island lifestyle. We have straight people that come our pride. All of the island embraces the rainbow and we work hard to brighten that rainbow.”
Kent, however, insists there will be a difference come June. The new Pride South Florida is like a farm, Kent said, complete with “ducks and chickens.”
When asked what Key West had to offer, Kent said “a bunch of cocks- and a few roosters.”