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.