Applause was heard outside of City Hall as St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch hoisted the city’s Pride flag, marking the start of Pride month.
“We are committed to equity and diversity in all of our policies and decisions. We will continue that focus not just in the month of June, but every month of the year,” Welch said to the assembled. “Together, we will continue to fight discrimination in every form against our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. We cannot and will not stand silent while our fundamental rights of freedom, choice and self-determination are stripped by anyone or any organization, including politicians in Washington and Tallahassee.
“I invite everyone to reflect on ways we can live and work together with a commitment to mutual respect and understanding and further recognize Pride month by flying the rainbow flag,” Welch continued, reading from the city’s proclamation.
Nicole Berman, executive director of St. Pete Pride, followed Welch’s speech.
“I am new to St. Pete and I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got here. I can now say, with certainty, I have never felt more welcomed as a queer person as I have in St. Pete,” Berman said. “Mayor Welch, this is truly a testament to the city’s commitment to celebrating and uplifting the city’s LGBTQ community, and speaks volumes about our resilience … It’s no small feat to stand so proudly during a time when attempts are made every day to minimize and silence the queer community.”
She added how the city’s famed St. Pete Pride Parade will return this year, which is the largest Pride Parade in the state.
“This 20th year anniversary of Pride is on track to be the biggest and best yet with a focus on uplifting individuals who created, built and grew St. Pete Pride,” Berman said. “The first Pride was a riot led by Black and Brown trans women, without whom the Pride we know today would have never existed.”