Community celebrates sexuality at Come Out With Pride Festival
Published: Monday, October 8, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 8, 2012 23:10
Beads, rainbow flags galore and many smiling faces were just some of the things to be found at the Come Out with Pride Orlando Festival on Saturday at Lake Eola Park.
Come Out with Pride Orlando is a weeklong event, but Saturday celebrated Pride Day, which included live music performances, stage plays, more than 150 vendors selling an assortment of goodies and a parade packed to the brim with bright colors and positive vibes.
“Pride’s not just about being gay anymore,” said Logan Ganier, public relations and communications director for the festival. “It’s just everybody has pride, everybody can relate to pride. Everybody at one point in their life is apprehensive about something that they’re holding back, that they really would like to push forth and let it bring out into the open. And that doesn’t have to be just sexuality, it can be anything. And so pride really has a big audience right there itself, I mean, it’s the human race.”
The audience for Pride has evolved since its beginning. Ganier says this event used to attract more of an adult crowd.
“But now, our whole message and what we push is really all about family,” Ganier said. “And so, more and more every year, you progressively see more families, more straight couples pushing a stroller with kids.”
The sidewalks were filled with people from many different backgrounds and sexualities. People dressed in expressive outfits that even included some black leather and wildly colored hair strutted the park right next to heterosexual couples and children. A sense of acceptance seemed to fill the air. Some people even brought along their pets, including dogs, cats, reptiles and even a ferret.
Some members of the UCF group Equal made it out to show their support and enjoy the festival. Equal’s vice president of external affairs, Sara Wilcox, was among them.
“Well, last year was my first year at Pride. It was amazing. It’s so much fun; it’s a place where you can be yourself and you can wear the rainbow and be gay,” Wilcox said. “It’s great and, like, so inclusive and so … such a warm atmosphere and everyone loves each other; everyone is just happy to be here, happy to be who they are. It’s just like, going here you can’t not have a smile on your face. It’s so much fun. I plan on going every year, whether I’m with a man or a woman, because I’m still a part of the community no matter who I’m with.”
Brooke Oster, a sophomore majoring in interdisciplinary studies at UCF, said the festival is one place they can go and not have to worry about being looked at or discriminated against.
Oster said that even at events that are supposed to be about community and equality, there are still bouts of hate. Oster is transgendered, which means a person’s gender identity does not match up with their assigned sex.
“There are people like me that are neither a man nor a woman,” Oster said. “People think in terms of binaries, but there are more than two sexes, more than two genders.”
Not everyone in this community agrees on this.
“A lot of people don’t believe in my gender,” Oster said. “I’ve been very fortunate that most people have been accepting or at least try to. But there have been people who tell me that my gender is not real and that I need to pick one.”
The parade was a time for everyone to show their excitement and support for their community. As each float or group passed, the surrounding people shouted and bounced about in a desperate attempt to catch some of the beads or candy that were being thrown around. However, as the parade progressed, it was clear that it emotionally moved the people that came out to Pride.
“The parade is like a Mardi Gras parade, you just show your pride and be happy and excited, and you get tons of beads,” Wilcox said.
Darrin Crittington, a UCF graduate, enjoyed the atmosphere of the event.
“I like that it’s very inclusive. It’s not just a gay event, it’s a Florida event. There are people from all over Florida that come here for this.”