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Wednesday September 17th 2014

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A Week of PensacolaPRIDE

By Jennie McKeon

After the weekend-long party on the beach, the Gay Grassroots of Northwest Florida (GGNWFL) offers a week of events with a deeper meaning.

“While Memorial Day is a great time to welcome and enjoy the company of LGBT friends from far and wide, it does not include any measurable attention to the rich history, diverse culture and equality issues that are core elements of a pride festival,” said President of Gay Grassroots of Northwest Florida, Doug Landreth.

June 8-16 is the third PensacolaPRIDE week of events that are open to everyone. From a youth prom to movie screenings, events are all fun and informative.

“PensacolaPRIDE is a time for our local LGBT community to have fun, but also learn about our past, celebrate recent advancements, explore our diversity and become empowered to keep advancing toward full understanding, respect, equality and inclusion of LGBT persons,” Landreth said.

It may seem that PensacolaPRIDE week occurs conveniently after a weekend when Pensacola Beach is a sea of rainbow flags, but the month of June actually has significance.

“Many LGBT Pride Festivals are held in June to pay homage to the Stonewall Riots,” Landreth said.

Landreth explains the Stonewall Riots took place in the early morning of June 28, 1969. The riots were a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations against a police raid at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York City.

“They are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when people in the homosexual community fought back,” Landreth said. “And they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.”

PensacolaPRIDE organizers haven’t neglected the fact that 2012 has been a good year for equality advancements.

“President Obama’s public stance in support of marriage equality was a landmark occasion, having the first sitting president of the world’s most powerful country and having it said by our nation’s first black president provided us all with a great shot of enthusiasm,” Landreth said.

While Landreth said that President Barack Obama’s statement did not immediately deliver action, he points out the importance and impact of the president’s support.

“I am certain that many of America’s young people who have either struggled with their sexual orientation and/or having been subjected to marginalization, hatred, bullying or abuse, went to bed for the first time knowing that their president saw them as worthy and equal,” he said. “This simple and straight-forward statement gave all LGBT persons, of all ages, a stronger hope for a better and brighter tomorrow.”

Encouraged by the president’s statement, GGNWFL asked local officials to take a LGBT Support Pledge and sign the accompanying banner. The public is welcome to sign the banner at all PensacolaPRIDE events. The “Wedding of Hearts” will also be returning as part of the Festival in the Park on June 16. In 2010, the first year of PensacolaPRIDE, 15 couples, including one heterosexual couple, proclaimed their love in Seville Square. The mass wedding gives same-sex couples a chance to walk down the aisle, even if it isn’t a legally binding contract.

“Sadly, helping to make a cherished memory, making a statement and showing support and solidarity is all we are able to provide to the loving and committed couples who dream of the day they will be able to marry in Florida,” Landreth said.

Landreth said many same-sex couples are not looking to change the definition of marriage or looking for approval from churches, but just for marriage equality.

“It’s important to understand that marriage is recognition of a contract issued by a government, not a church,” he said. “All religious institutions are granted the freedom to only conduct the sacraments and ceremonies that fit into their teaching and beliefs. Marriage equality would insure that the government does not deny the rights of marriage.”

Mayor Ashton Hayward issued a proclamation on PensacolaPRIDE week, putting his seal of approval on the weeklong festivities. The mayor’s support has heartened GGNWFL, but Pensacola overall could still be more supportive.

“The way I see it, Pensacola is no longer outwardly hostile to the LGBT community, however there is little active support for our advancement in equality,” Landreth said.

Advancement begins with you. Take in a movie, sign up for chili and line dancing or attend the political forum and discuss LGBT issues.

“One of the major goals of PensacolaPRIDE is to empower local LGBT persons to join and build our local LGBT community and become strong enough to demand to be treated fairly in all aspects of their lives,” Landreth said. “This is a great time to learn more about the local LGBT community, share the great commonalities we have with the general public and gain a better understanding of why festivals such as PensacolaPRIDE are so important to all of us.”

PensacolaPRIDE EVENTS
Tickets may be purchased at Equality House, 18 S. DeVilliers St. or by calling Doug Landreth at 685-2881, for more information please visit GGnwfl.com, or e-mail PensacolaPRIDE@gmail.com.

LGBT YOUTH PROM
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday, June 8
WHERE: Pensacola Improv Center, 375 N. Pace Blvd.
COST: $20
LGBT Youth Prom for persons ages 16 to 21 years. The theme is “Under the Stars.” Dancing, professional DJ and refreshments. Adult supervision will insure this is an alcohol and drug free event. Semi-formal dress encouraged. Professional photographer will be on hand, no outside cameras allowed.

CELEBRATION BALL
WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, June 9
WHEN: Pensacola Improv Center, 375 N. Pace Blvd.
COST: $50
The Stars & Stripes Canteen will celebrate the repeal of “Don’t Ask. Don’t Tell.”  This highly themed ball will have a 1940′s U.S.O. Canteen theme setting. Dinner, wine, patriotic (red, white, and blue) martinis, dancing and a live U.S.O.–style stage show produced by Lacy DeLaino along with Navy Officers Colin Doherty and Terry Adam. 1940′s era or Military attire encouraged. Professional photographer will be on hand, no outside cameras allowed. Must be 21 years or older to attend.

LGBT FILM FESTIVAL
WHEN: 1 p.m. Sunday, June 10
WHERE: The Bowden Building, 120 Church St.
COST: $5
Four selected award winning LGBT films will be screened. At 1 p.m., “Brother Outsider,” at 3 p.m. “Fabulous,” at 5 p.m., “Out Late,” and at 7 p.m., “Paris was a Woman.” One $5 ticket is good for all four screenings. Refreshments will be sold.

COMMUNITY RECEPTION
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Monday, June 11
WHERE:  Equality House, 18 S. DeVilliers St.
COST: Free
Come meet Sarah Latshaw our local ACLU’s new Community Organizer and learn how she envisions working with the LGBT Community.

POLITICAL FORUM ON LGBT ISSUES
WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 12
WHERE: Tyron Branch Library, 1200 Langley Ave.
COST: Free
Pensacola City and Escambia County office seekers will go on the record with their stance on important LGBT issues. Seating is first come, first serve. No ticket required.

CHILI DINNER AND LINE DANCING
WHEN: 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 13
WHERE: Holy Cross MCC, 3130 W. Fairfield Drive
COST:  $7 or $5 with a donation of two items for the food pantry.
A dinner of homemade chili, coleslaw, cornbread and brownies at 6 p.m. will be followed by country line dancing from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. Beginner lessons will start each session. Western wear encouraged.

LOVE IS LOUDER POETRY SLAM
WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, June 14
WHERE: Equality House, 18 S. DeVilliers St.
COST: $5
Come enjoy the art of poetry slam or spoken word, with a focus on LGBT equality and the power of love.  Everyone is welcome to participate by performing or listening. If you wish to read poetry, call Donna at 221-2700. Fair market coffee and vegetarian refreshments will be served.

FESTIVAL IN THE PARK
WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday, June 16
WHERE: Old Seville Square
COST: Free
Come enjoy a full day of live entertainment, food, and arts and craft vendors. If you would like to perform or have a booth, please e-mail pensacolaPRIDE@gmail.com.