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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Gainesville shows its Pride during annual festival

<p dir="ltr"><span>Seven-year-old Elizabeth Poe, daughter of Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, sits on a parade float Saturday afternoon during the the Gainesville Pride Parade. “Pride gets bigger and better and more celebratory every year,” Mayor Poe said.</span></p><p><span> </span></p>

Seven-year-old Elizabeth Poe, daughter of Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, sits on a parade float Saturday afternoon during the the Gainesville Pride Parade. “Pride gets bigger and better and more celebratory every year,” Mayor Poe said.

 

Clea DuBrawl rolled down University Avenue alongside a pack of about 20 roller derby skaters gripping pride flags Saturday afternoon.

DuBrawl, 29, who goes by Ashley Flattery outside of the roller rink, came to the annual Gainesville Pride Festival and Parade with the Gainesville Roller Rebels.

The group tore through the street on their skates while holding a banner that read “GRR’s got Pride.”

Hundreds of people donning rainbow attire marched downtown at noon during the parade, which was hosted by the Pride Community Center of North Central Florida. About 5,000 people attended the festival throughout the day, said Terry Fleming, the center’s co-president.

The Gainesville Roller Rebels participate in the festival every year because many of the team members are in the LGBTQ+ community, Flattery said.

“Pride’s about having a really cool community like our roller derby team,” she said.

Gainesville Police closed University Avenue from the intersection of Southwest Seventh Street to Southeast First Street until the parade ended at about 1 p.m. The sidewalk was lined with cheering spectators while more people spilled out of University Club across the street.

The Pride Community Center hosts the event with the help of the City of Gainesville Department of Cultural Affairs, Fleming said.

The center, which offers HIV testing programs and transgender youth support groups, led the parade. Groups including the Gainesville chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and the Alachua County Faith Leadership Alliance also marched.

The Wells Fargo stagecoach was pulled by four horses as the parade’s finale.

“Pride is about community. That’s the most important thing,” Fleming said. “It’s about coming together in unity and happiness and then having pride.”

The Sisterhood of Perpetual Indulgence made its Gainesville debut this year. Concealing their identities with white face makeup and nun-inspired outfits, the members of the group provided outreach to the LGBTQ+ community at the start of the AIDs epidemic, said Sister Dominique Mascara Top.

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“Pride is the ultimate expression of who you are as a person,” said Sister Patience Fussy Bottom. “It’s the period of time when you can be unabashedly yourself and be fearless, even if you can’t in your everyday life.”

Vendors and groups set up tents on Bo Diddley Plaza to sell books, local honey, coffee and spiritual card readings until the festival ended at 9 p.m. Musical performances were scattered throughout the afternoon, including the Tallahassee band Boys Who Cry, and a drag show later that night on stage.

Jasmine Chi, a 20-year-old UF economics and African American studies junior, attended Pride for her second time this year. She strode through the festival holding hands with her girlfriend, Skylar McIlvanie, a 20-year-old UF neuroscience and women’s studies junior.

The couple came to the festival with McIlvenie’s parents and their dog, Jett.

“Pride just means being comfortable in my own space, and being in an environment that’s inclusive like this,” Chi said.

Seven-year-old Elizabeth Poe, daughter of Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, sits on a parade float Saturday afternoon during the the Gainesville Pride Parade. “Pride gets bigger and better and more celebratory every year,” Mayor Poe said.

 

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