Organizers are expecting a record crowd to attend the 12th Annual Come Out with Pride Festival as a show of support for the 49 people killed in the Pulse tragedy.
The festival was originally scheduled for the first weekend in October to align with National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11) and National Gay and Lesbian History Month but was rescheduled due to Hurricane Matthew. Now the festival falls five months after the June 12 Pulse massacre, where 49 people were killed at an Orlando gay nightclub.
The four-day event begins with a launch party Thursday, continues with a festival Saturday with food, entertainment, a parade and fireworks and ends with a Sunday brunch. Most of the events are free but VIP tickets are available online.
The main event Saturday will be from noon to 10 p.m. at Lake Eola Park. The Most Colorful Parade begins at 4 p.m. Saturday at the corner of Robinson Street and Rosalind Avenue and ends at the corner of Robinson and Orange Avenue. A Pulse float will include employees of the nightclub and family members affected by the tragedy. The Orlando Police and Fire Departments also are participating in the parade.
Orlando’s Pride festival is one of the largest in Florida. Last year, 140,000 people attended and Jeff Prystajko, director of marketing and communications, said they are expecting 150,000 this year to show their tolerance and support. Pride Festivals are held every October in big cities nationwide.
The festival is sponsored by Come Out With Pride, Inc., a nonprofit with the mission of making an impact on the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning and others) community. The acronym refers to people united by having gender identities or sexual orientations that differ from the majority.
The Metropolitan Business Association, also known as the Central Florida LGBT Chamber of Commerce, sponsored Orlando’s first Pride Festival in 2005. The festival focused on building unity and asking people to change Florida laws that discriminated against the LGBTQ community. Come Out With Pride, Inc. is under the MBA umbrella. Proceeds from the event will go back to the LGBTQ community in grants and educational scholarships.
For a schedule of events, go to http://comeoutwithpride.com/events/.