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Orlando comes out for LGBT celebration

By Adam Rhodes
On September 26, 2012

A different sort of prideful color scheme will be taking over Orlando starting Thursday. As Come Out With Pride Orlando begins, UCF will be sporting a wider spectrum of colors than the traditional black and gold.

According to the OrlandoPride Twitter account, the event brought more than 70,000 people into Orlando last year. This years festivities only promise to get bigger as more families, organizations and sponsors flock to one of the largest LGBT-pride celebrations in Florida.

Eight years ago, this event started out with a humble attendance of 600 people. Now Come Out With Pride Orlando is an exciting weeklong celebration of equality, unity and diversity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens and their allies alike. Year after year, the crowd comes back, excited for the comforting, safe and welcoming atmosphere that the celebration is known for.

I cant explain how you feel safe with 100,000 people around you, but you do, because everyones kind of there for the same reason, said Jen Gin Arnold, historian of the LGBTQ organization Equal and UCF senior.

As seasoned veterans arrive in Orlando, so do newcomers, many of whom have never gone to a LGBT-pride festival before.

Melissa Rodzen, a UCF sophomore and transfer student, will be one of the newcomers and is not daunted by the size of the gathering.

I think its really great and I think that it opens up all sorts of doors for different kinds of people, Rodzen said.

Other newcomers will be taking advantage of the safety and security LGBT celebrations are known for, including how they allow for free expression of some relationships that would be otherwise difficult.

Well, Im going up to visit my boyfriend and some friends but Ive also been to pride in Atlanta, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, and Im really curious to see how Orlando pride compares, Randy Carpenter, a 43-year-old Miami native, said.

The busy and diverse schedule of events begins at 8 p.m. Thursday with the Miss Pride Election at Revolution Orlando with $5 admission and ends with the closing ceremonies at 6 p.m., Oct. 7 at Macys in Mall at Millenia, which has free admission.

The events culminate in the parade and festival, which Logan Ganier, communications director for Orlando Pride 2012, refers to as the bread and butter or must-attend events of the weeklong celebration. The parade starts at 4 p.m. on Oct. 6 and serves as the climax for the weeks wide variety of events.

From the LGBT Film Festival Monday through Wednesday at the Abbey to the two culinary events at Hamburger Marys at 8:30 p.m., Oct. 5 and 11 a.m., Oct. 7, to the World Showcase highlighting all things international in terms of travel and culture, the events truly capture the well-balanced spirit of the LGBT community in Orlando. The week showcases both the serious side of political activism and the fun, carefree side of the social events these celebrations are known for.

There is a more in-depth and detailed list of events, along with prices, on the celebrations website, comeoutwithpride.com. For those who wish to add to their experience, certain events have the option of VIP tickets available for purchase. To keep up with all of the latest information from Come Out With Pride Orlando, follow it on Twitter (@OrlandoPride) or download the app. An iPhone version of the app is currently available in the App Store and an Android version should be available by the time the celebration begins.

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