Several cities across the Tampa area marked the beginning of LGBTQ Pride Month Thursday by raising the rainbow flag.
At one celebration Thursday evening in the Pinellas County beachfront city of Gulfport, about 120 people enthusiastically cheered at the end of a short ceremony when the rainbow flag was raised above the Gulfport Public Library.
It came after several speakers denounced new Florida laws that target the LGBTQ community. Those laws even prompted an advocacy group to advise LGBTQ people that travel to Florida may not be safe.
Democrat Lindsay Cross represents parts of Pinellas County in the Florida Legislature.
“It’s bullying at a very high level. And I don’t think it’s reflective of who the majority of Floridians are or their values.
“I think these bills are passed to get attention in the media, to appeal to a very narrow conservative and you know, and some would say hateful base. And I think that Florida is better than that.
“I think that if we’re able to elect different people at our local our state and our federal level, we’ll be able to reverse some of these policies.
“But in the meantime, there’s a lot of people who are going to be hurt by them.”
A new Florida law threatens the license of establishments that have drag shows with children present. So Gulfport Pride’s drag performance after last night’s flag-raising was only for ages 18 and up.
Drag entertainer Brianna Summers is frustrated with the new laws coming out of Tallahassee.
“You know, with the laws, it’s just, they’re so vague that we don’t know what the right thing to do is anymore.
“We’ve always been able to have our fun and create our own spaces.
And with the new bills we’re having to kind of do it differently than before — or the new laws rather, I guess.
“You know, it’s a challenge right now.”
The Gulfport Pride Festival is Saturday along the waterfront, Shore Boulevard and Beach Boulevard. It goes from 10:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. with a parade at 3:00 p.m.