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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Prairie Creek Lounge houses outdoor pride event

Alachua Conservation Trust held Pride at Prairie Creek Oct. 24 in celebration of the LGBTQ community.

<p>Attendees lounge on the grounds of the Prairie Creek Lodge at the Pride at Prairie Creek event Oct. 24. </p>

Attendees lounge on the grounds of the Prairie Creek Lodge at the Pride at Prairie Creek event Oct. 24.

Hidden away in the middle of the Prairie Creek Lodge Sunday was a mini pride parade— minus the actual parading. With over a dozen different organizations tabling at this event, members of the larger Gainesville community came from all corners of the city to celebrate the LGBTQ community.

In an effort to celebrate the LGBTQ community, the Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) hosted their Pride at Prairie Creek event with Oct. 24 at the Prairie Creek Lodge.

The event, which lasted from noon to 4 p.m., was sponsored by the UF Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs, First Magnitude Brewing Company, Royal Restrooms and Sharlyn and Keith Lauby, the president and vice president of marketing of local mental health organization The ITM Group. ACT also acquired about 15 different partners to help run the event.

Ema Olmos, the conservation events coordinator for ACT, said they originally partnered with the Pride Community of North Central Florida, which was already planning their own pride parade. When this parade was canceled, ACT decided to continue their plans to host their LGBTQ pride event at the prairie.

“We were very happy to be able to continue this one and have this event happen for the community,” Olmos said.

The associate director for ACT, Heather Obara, said this event was meant to push for more diversity in the midst of adversity.

“We've seen over the past year and a half how individuals have felt shut out from the environment or felt like they're not welcomed in certain communities based on maybe their sexual preference, or their race or gender,” she said. “We're working very hard here at ACT to correct that within our own organization, and also to make sure that the folks know that nature can be a welcoming place for everybody, as long as we're all working together, and also all being inclusive.”

The event, which was free, offered guided tours of both the Prairie Creek Preserve and the Prairie Creek Conservation Cemetery, an early bird banding event, a food truck, drinks and desserts, native flower planting and performances from both Clay Dixon & the Piccadilles and The Front Porch Backsteppers.

While Olmos said that growing up in Gainesville as a queer individual has personally been a great experience, she believes that any place could do more in its treatment of the LGBTQ+ community.

“I think bringing the community together is so important because it starts conversations,” Olmos said.“It starts a dialogue with those who may be experiencing nature in a way that is mainstream and normal and wouldn't have an understanding of what it's like to be a queer person out in the woods in rural Florida,”

Obara was extremely pleased with the turnout, ans she hopes to continue these efforts.

“We hope that we could potentially grow this event into the future and continue to make it a part of what ACT does, and also make it a place that the LGBTQ plus community can come and feel safe,” Obara said.

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Contact Luigi at lbencosme@alligator.org.

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Luigi Bencosme

Luigi is a second-year advertising major at UF and a staff writer for the Avenue. In his free time, he likes to read up and investigate the most obscure fun facts that would interest no one else. He is also the podcast producer for Rowdy Magazine.


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