In honor of its tenth anniversary, St. Pete Pride this year chose 10 — count ’em, 10! — Grand Marshals to lead its grand promenade down the avenues of St. Petersburg on Sat., June 30. We contacted several of these honorees, as well as other LGBT luminaries, to ask the question: What makes you proudest this year?
Morning Show Co-Host “That Guy” Kramer Morning Show, WSJT Play 98.7
I’m deeply proud of how much work CBS Radio Tampa and Play 98.7 have accomplished in the Tampa Bay gay community. This is our second year as the official radio station for St. Pete Pride. Not only have we been a part of many of the events of St. Pete Pride, I feel like we have brought attention to many causes in the gay community to the straight community. On our morning show, “That Guy” Kramer in the Morning, I worked with the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas to be tested for HIV live on the show. We wanted to teach gay and straight people that anyone can be at risk for contracting the deadly virus. I think we dispelled misconceptions about the process of getting an HIV test.
For St. Pete Pride, I’m celebrating the fact that I am able to live my life on Tampa Bay radio as an open gay man. I’m so proud and thankful of the work of the trailblazers in our community that made it possible for me to be who I am, with no apologies.
Rev. Lorraine Brock King
King of Peace Metropolitan Community Church
It is an honor to be chosen as a Grand Marshal because it shows how involved we are within the whole community and not just the gay community… Our 282 members and friends believe that service inside and outside of our four walls is vital to their spiritual lives. … King of Peace MCC is a place to come and worship just as you are. We have people of every size, shape, religion, color, sexual orientation, and, yes, that include straight people. We are not the gay church, but we are a Christian church for all people. We invite everyone who does not want their children to grow up homophobic, comes from a background of a homophobic church, or gave up on God because they did not think they were good enough.
Author of lesbian fiction
I celebrate Pride because I believe that visibility and obvious self-love — not simply acceptance — are some ways to conquer homophobia and show those in the closet that there is happiness waiting for them on the other side of that closet door. This year, I’m particularly proud of the publication of my latest book, Nightshade, as well as the completion of a novel (finally!) that I’ve been working on since 2006. I’ve been doing the happy dance and giving myself high fives in front of the mirror for the past few weeks. These book babies are a pleasure in and of themselves, but they also mark the expansion of my writing into genres other than the erotic lesbian romance of my previous books. Because of this, I’m really excited and anxious to know what my readers think. Happy Pride!
Executive Director, Trans*Action Florida
At one of our transgender town hall meetings late last year, an audience member stated that as a trans man he did not participate in Pride events. “Why would I celebrate my medical condition?” is the question he posed. I’ve given that statement a lot of thought since then and I have come to agree with it somewhat. Actually, for any LGBT or straight person, such labels are not choices or accomplishments to be proud of — we were “born this way.” For me, Pride has come to be about the accomplishments of a community, and for a lot of us about the simple fact that we have survived.
My work with the transgender community puts me in contact with some pretty amazing people; people who have incredible resilience. Their stories are littered with trauma and successes; this resilience is a reason to be proud. In my personal life I am out and open as a trans man, and my own journey has been a rough one. I am not proud that I have an incongruence of body and gender, but I am proud that in spite of that… no, not in spite of but because of that, I am a better person than I set out to be.
As each of us individually has grown and survived, so have our communities and organizations. I’ve been a part of the LGBT community in Tampa Bay for 32 years and we have certainly grown in numbers and maturity — for this I am proud. Organizations like St. Pete Pride, Equality Florida, Metro Wellness, ASAP, TGLIFF, Trans*Action Florida and many others have flourished and matured — for this I am proud. Every trans person who gets their name and gender marker changed, every LGBT person who knows their status, every LGBT person who adopts, gives birth, has their partnership recognized and protected — for this I am proud. These are the things I am celebrating this year.
Contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race; performer at Hamburger Mary’s, G Spot and The Honeypot
This year, I am definitely the most proud of the amount of growth that I have had in my career. Between being on TV, traveling and meeting new friends and fans, I realize that I am blessed. I have learned that you are in control of how your life goes, so it is up to you to make it the best you can.
Rep. Rick Kriseman
There is much to celebrate this year as St. Pete Pride reaches an important milestone — 10 years! This event continues to have a positive social and economic impact on the City of St. Petersburg and all of Tampa Bay, and sends a message to the world that we are a welcoming and safe place to live and visit. It has been an honor for me to be involved with Pride since its inception and to be named as a Grand Marshal this year. Simply put, St. Petersburg is a better place today because of St. Pete Pride.
President, Sonia Plotnick Health FundI am very excited to celebrate Pride in 2012 due to the many positive changes we have witnessed in the LGBT community in the past year. I am both astonished and energized by the lifting of these seemingly insurmountable barriers in rapid succession, including “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” which allows our GLBT brothers and sisters to serve openly and proudly in our armed forces. The passage of civil unions in many cities across the nation and closer to home, the granting of domestic partnership benefits in Tampa, Gulfport, and St. Petersburg have highlighted the growing acceptance of the wonderful diversity of our great community. Another event with great significance to SPHF is the passage of The Affordable Care Act, which provides medical care to many Americans who have been unable to obtain even basic healthcare. Many of our sisters here in the Tampa Bay area have been assisted with their healthcare costs through grants from SPHF in the past 15 years and we are looking forward to expanding even further in the coming year. Happy Pride to all in 2012!
Resource Development Manager, AIDS Service Association of Pinellas/AIDS Walk Tampa BayHappy Pride! To me, this is more than one day in June to celebrate. This Pride marks the end of my first year working for AIDS Service Association of Pinellas as their resource development manager. Together, along with hundreds of volunteers, we are changing the course of the spread of HIV in the Tampa Bay area. AIDS Walk St. Petersburg, now AIDS Walk Tampa Bay, in its ninth year has been able to raise over half a million dollars to support prevention and education programs right here in our community.
I am very proud of our area coming together to support ASAP and its mission to provide high-quality, compassionate services to persons infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. While HIV/AIDS is not on the front page of newspapers anymore, it is still in the minds of residents here, and we all are fighting to bring an end to the epidemic.
President of the Board, Tampa Bay Business Guild
This year my partner Linda and I are very proud of the fact that we have expanded our business. Over the last two and a half years we have grown myQmunity.com into a well-known website for the LGBT community in Tampa Bay. But last year our clients started to ask us to handle their social media and marketing. So we started to slowly expand that base of business, and earlier this year launched Buzzfish Marketing. We develop, plan and execute social media and marketing strategies for clients as well as plan, design and develop websites. We have been steadily growing, and now employ three more people on a part or full-time basis. Also this year I was named president of the board of the Tampa Bay Business Guild (the LGBT Chamber of Commerce). We have been creating change within the organization to make it more relevant and exciting for our members. We have joined the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, changed the meeting structure and are about to announce several exciting changes and new programs.
Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Tampa Order
The Tampa Bay Sisters have many reasons for celebrating Pride this year. We are a local 100 percent volunteer non-profit organization that has been in the Tampa Bay area for over six years. It is an honor to be chosen as one of the Grand Marshals in this year’s St. Pete Pride parade, as a representation of our community involvement. We are all about serving and helping the community in a fun and uplifting way.
We’re also celebrating the many different events and appearances we have done this year, such as Pink Weekend benefiting Friends of Joshua House, Metro Wellness Center and Hillsborough Arts Council, Trans*Action Town Hall meeting, Bear Soup Blessing, Tampa Bay Leather Blessing, Vitambi Springs Bingo, Tampa & St. Pete outreach, and Red Dress Ball benefiting Francis House and St. Pete Pride. Keep an eye out for up-to-date information at tampasisters.org. “Start Pride with Love, Fill Pride with Love, Spend Pride with Love, End Pride with Love.” Blessed be.