Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday June 19th 2019

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Pride Time

PensacolaPRIDE Gives Us Something to Celebrate Again
By Jennie McKeon

The first gay pride event was actually a protest.

It was 50 years ago, on June 28, 1969, when New York City police violently raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. It should be no surprise that the 1960s was not a safe time period for the LGBTQ community—or any community that broke from social norms for that matter.

The raid led to six days of protests, and 50 years later, it’s credited for leading the way for gay rights in America. It’s why June is recognized as Pride Month, and this year, Gay Grassroots of Northwest Florida is recognizing the Stonewall milestone alongside its very own—the 10th anniversary of PensacolaPRIDE.

With each Pride Month, it’s a chance to remember those early activists and reflect on the victories that have followed—like the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and beginning of marriage equality across the country, to name a few. But it’s also a time to reorganize and learn about the challenges and goals ahead—such as the Trump administration’s ban on transgender troops and the hopeful passage of the Equality Act to extend civil rights protections to gay and transgender people.

Local Pride
Brian Heike, president of Gay Grassroots of Northwest Florida, credits the Stonewall activists for opening doors for him. For most of his adult life, he’s worn various hats, working to fight the AIDS crisis in the ‘80s and ‘90s and lobbying Congress for better funding.

“I came out in 1974—five years after Stonewall,” he said. “(Stonewall) was the first time I learned that I was allowed to come out of the shadows.”

And like that first Pride event changed Heike, he hopes more young people will take note of the LGBTQ history through PensacolaPRIDE festivities.

“We had to fight for our human rights. Somehow all of that can be lost on the younger generation,” he said. “I know how impatient I was to get all of my rights right then, right now, but it was incremental progress.”

After a string of victories, Heike said he believes there’s a tide against the progress both nationally and locally. (Inweekly has actually interviewed Heike on this topic in relation to the recent comments made by Rep. Mike Hill. You can read that in our June 6 issue). As he sees it, pushback isn’t a reason to give up but instead fight harder.

“We have to make sure we don’t lose all the rights we fought so hard to get,” Heike said. “I want young people to be aware that they need to get involved or it could slip away from us.”

PRIDE Vibes
Beyond the parade floats and parties you might associate Pride Month with, Heike said PensacolaPRIDE is “a different vibe.” There’s an art show, mid-week mixers, a book reading and the annual Festival in the Park at Seville Square. At this year’s festival, Heike said there will be a transgender active duty service member to present the American flag who will speak about the challenges that transgender people face in the military.

These events are made to be inviting to everyone—regardless of sexuality or gender identity. Heike said he always hopes for people who are unfamiliar with the LGBTQ community to come to an event and leave enlightened.

“We have many straight allies who accept us for everything we are,” he said. “It’s cliché, but we are your brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, your neighbors, your friends. You may know someone in the LGBTQ community and not even know it.”

It’s common that putting a face to an issue allows people to empathize. That’s one goal of PensacolaPRIDE. But it doesn’t have to only happen in June. You can be an ally all year long. It starts with an open mind and an open heart.

“Once they do meet someone—a real life, breathing, flesh and blood person—we become a whole human and not just a cartoon character,” Heike said. “You’ve heard of take your kids to work day? How about take a gay person to lunch day? Spend time with LGBTQ people and get to know them.”

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Get Your PRIDE On

Whether it’s art, live music or a festival in the park, there is literally a PRIDE event for everyone.

Inaugural LGBT Community Art Show
Now-June 31
Shirley’s Specialty Café & Bakery, 1521 N. 9th Ave.
Viewing hours are Tuesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Ladies Night featuring Wayward Sister
7-10 p.m. Friday, June 14
Kingfisher, 1500 Barrancas Ave.
Enjoy drink specials, great food and live music from Wayward Sister. Gay Grassroots will be on site with contests and prizes as well as PensacolaPRIDE shirts and Celebration Banquet tickets for sale.

10th Annual Festival in the Park
11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, June 15
Seville Park
Bring your chairs or blankets and take the kids and your pets for a full day of live entertainment. There will be arts and crafts vendors as well as nonprofit and business vendors. As always, the show closes with a drag queen performance. And best part—admission to the festival is free.

Tea Dance
3-7 p.m. Sunday, June 16
The Vineyard, 1010 N. 12th Ave.
Spill the tea—or any liquid of your choice—with $20 drink and drown and a drag show. There’s contest and prizes as well as PensacolaPRIDE shirts and tickets for the Celebration Banquet available for purchase.

Literary Event with Author Victoria Stopp
7 p.m. Tuesday, June 18
Artel Gallery, 223 S. Palafox
Victoria Stopp is a winner of the 2018 Florida Authors and Publishers President’s Book Award and has been featured in OUT Magazine, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Backpacker Magazine, Voices on Unity and more. She will read from her latest book, “Hurting Like Hell, Living with Gusto: My Battle with Chronic Pain.” The event is free to attend. However, donations to Gay Grassroots is encouraged.

Mid-Week Mixer at chizuko
5-9 p.m. Wednesday, June 19
chizuko, 506 W. Belmont St.
Everyone needs a mid-week break. Head to chizuko for drink specials and mingle with new friends. There will also be contests and prizes.

Movie Under the Stars
7 p.m. Thursday, June 20
The Vineyard, 1010 N. 12th Ave.
Watch a movie under the stars while dining and drinking. Movie is TBA, but the food and drinks will be worth it alone.

LGBTQ+ Populations in Pensacola: Perceptions of Safety and Effects on Health
6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, June 21
Ever’man Educational Center, 321 W. Garden St.
Listen to the research findings from the University of West Florida’s Department of Anthropology study on the local LGBTQ+ population. There will also be a Q&A session. The presentation is free to attend.

Celebration Banquet
6:30-10 p.m. Saturday, June 22
Pensacola Opera Center, 75 Tarragona St.
PensacolaPRIDE ends on a high note with a four-course meal with wine and specialty cocktails along with live entertainment from Lacy Ignacio McFadden. Dress in festive cocktail attire. Tickets are $45 in advance and $50 at the door.

For more information about PensacolaPRIDE and these events, visit facebook.com/pensacolapride.

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For the Greater Good

In the spirit of Pride and giving back, Sunday’s Child will announce its latest grant recipients on Sunday, June 23.

The Pensacola-area philanthropic organization recently announced its selection of 10 finalists to be awarded one of four grants of $26,500.

Founded in 2014, Sunday’s Child is made up of members who donate funds annually, and 100 percent of funds go to grants for organizations that promote LGBTQ acceptance and inclusion. Last fall, the organization raised $106,000 among almost 200 members.

“The mission of Sunday’s Child is one of acceptance and unity in our diversity,” said Drew Buchanan, president of Sunday’s Child, via a press release. “We’re prideful of the fact that our community is made up of individuals and organizations that celebrate our unique differences. In just a few short years, we’ve given back nearly half a million dollars to our community, proving just how much the citizens of the Pensacola Bay Area care about diversity in their communities.”

This year, the following nonprofits have been announced as finalists (in no particular order) to compete for the four grant awards:

Golden Elite Track and Field
Gulf Coast Kid’s House
Manna Food Pantries
Pensacola United Methodist Community Ministries
Keep Pensacola Beautiful
A HOPE for Santa Rosa County
Pensacola Opera
Arc Gateway
Pensacola Children’s Chorus
Studer Community Institute

Sunday’s Child members will hear each of these 10 organizations present their projects at the Sunday’s Child annual membership meeting and participate in a live vote to award the grant awards.

Want to learn more about Sunday’s Child? You can make a one-time donation, apply for a future grant and see past winners at sundayschild.org.