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St. Pete’s Pride Month begins with City Hall flag raising

Bill DeYoung



Flanked by members of the city council and other dignitaries, Mayor Ken Welch proclaimed June 2023 LGBTQ Pride Month in St. Petersburg. Photos by Bill DeYoung.

Barely 90 seconds into his speech Thursday morning announcing the start of Pride Month in St. Petersburg, Mayor Ken Welch addressed the elephant in the room: Current and proposed state legislation restricting the rights of LGBTQ citizens of Florida.

“We are standing together for progress, and we are standing against ignorance and hatred,” Welch said before proclaiming June Pride Month in the city, and raising the rainbow Pride flag outside City Hall – the 10th consecutive annual ceremony.

“It has not been an easy road, this year especially,” Welch said. “But as Dr. King said, we are here and we are standing. And we are poised to host the largest, most diverse, most inclusive – and the best – Pride celebration in the United States. Our city will never give in, nor give up on our work to build inclusive progress for all.”

Nicole Berman, Executive Director of St. Pete Pride, raises the rainbow flag alongside the mayor.

Members of the St. Petersburg City Council, State Rep. Lindsay Cross, Treasure Island Mayor Tyler Payne and other dignitaries joined St. Pete Pride President Tiffany Freisberg and Executive Director Nicole Berman in standing behind Welch as he renewed the city’s commitment to equality and inclusion.

“If we are to achieve true equality in our nation for everyone, regardless of our race, our faith, our orientation, our identity, then we must have the courage to stand for the rights of everyone,” he said. “Regardless of who they are or who they love.”

Berman, left, and St. Pete Pride President Tiffany Freisberg.

St. Pete Pride events begins with a Kickoff Party Friday, on the 2200 and 2300 blocks of Central Avenue, and continue throughout the month. The main event – the festival and parade, the largest in Florida – is scheduled for Saturday, June 24.

“This year, the LGBTQIA community – my community – has faced countless, cowardly attacks and attempts to silence our voices, restrict our rights and erase our presence,” Berman said.

“Well, I hate to break it to anyone who thinks our community doesn’t belong in Florida … you can’t stop us. We are here, we are freaking fabulous, and we are not going anywhere.”

Berman is Friday’s guest on the St. Pete Catalyst‘s Arts Alive! podcast.

PSTA’s new Pride bus on display for the Thursday morning event.

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  1. Avatar

    Elenora Sabin

    June 1, 2023at4:41 pm

    I am so proud of our mayor and our city for taking this stand. Thank you, Mayor Welch and all those who stand with you to promote equity, inclusion, and diversity despite our governor and legislature opposing these democratic ideals.

  2. Avatar

    Carol Briam

    June 1, 2023at6:53 pm

    What current and proposed state legislation restricts the rights of LGBTQ citizens of Florida? Perhaps you are referring to the “Let Kids Be Kids” legislation, which many would argue is a common sense approach that includes the following:

    HB 254
    Outlaws “mutilating” surgical procedures and puberty blockers for minors. Requires adults receiving the same treatments to be informed about potential dangers.

    HB 1438
    Imposes fines for hotels and restaurants that admit a child into an adult performance such as a drag show or strip club.

    HB 1521 
    Requires public buildings with a restroom to designate separate facilities based on biological sex or to provide one-person unisex facilities.

    HB 1069
    Expands on the “parents rights in education” act by prohibiting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in Pre-K through 8th grade. Also prohibits schools from having students or teachers “declare” their pronouns. 


  3. Avatar

    Donna Kostreva

    June 2, 2023at6:59 am

    To reiterate a deleted comment regarding Veterans,Veterans who protect our freedoms are celebrated one day a year on Veterans Day. Those who perished protecting our freedoms are celebrated on Memorial Day.

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