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Pensacola PRIDE Week Celebrates LGBT Past, Present, Future

Gay Grassroots of NWFL

Pensacola’s LGBT community will kick off the fifth annual Pensacola PRIDE event on Saturday at Seville Square in downtown Pensacola.

Pensacola PRIDE founder Doug Landreth says the theme for this year’s celebration is “Know the Past, Celebrate the Present, Create the Future" – focusing on the “history, courage, diversity and value” of the area’s LGBT community.

“Typically, PRIDE events have some sort of acknowledgement of where the community and culture has come from,” said Landreth. “Highlighting either key moments or key figures in what progresses we have made, as well as how to move forward.”

But he adds that this is not a continuation of the Memorial Day weekend’s reunion at Pensacola Beach.

“Memorial Day weekend is a fantastic, festive event,” Landreth said. “However, since it’s primarily beach parties and club scenes, while it’s certainly enjoyable and worthwhile, they don’t address many of the components that go into making a PRIDE event.”

Doug Landreth
GGNF founder Doug Landreth

Gay Grassroots of Northwest Florida has its genesis in the passage of Amendment-2 in 2008. A-2 banned same-sex marriage in Florida until 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized such unions nationwide. Voter approval of Amendment-2, says Landreth, created a groundswell of dissatisfaction and anger.

“That kind of sparked the idea that ‘Perhaps Pensacola’s LGBT community was ready to become more fully engaged in advocacy,” said Landreth. “And therefore, a new organization was birthed out of that.”

Landreth also says it also appears that there are some changes in attitudes towards LGBT rights and equality, in what’s considered the most conservative part of Florida.

“I would say that there is a diminishing amount of dissent and opposition,” Landreth says. “However, those that do remain in opposition, due to their own ignorance or misunderstanding, or downright hatred or bigotry, are the more vocal.”

Even with marriage equality now the law of the land and other triumphs over the past decade or so, Landreth says there’s still a lot of work to be done in Florida.

“The day after you’re married, you can be discriminated [against] based on your sexual orientation when it comes to lodging and housing,” said Landreth. “You can be denied employment, once your employer finds out that you are gay or lesbian. If you have children, they may have an uphill battle as far as having both parents being able to adopt them fully.”

Pride events in the United States are often in held in June, to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in New York in 1969 – which many credit with the start of the gay liberation movement in America.

A full schedule of events for Pensacola PRIDE, can be found at http://www.ggnwfl.com/pcolapride.html.