Sarasota Pride holds 29th annual celebration

SARASOTA | Sarasota Pride will hold PrideFest 2018 at J.D. Hamel Park on Oct. 20, a “Rainbow Resistance” for the organization’s 29th annual celebration.

Sarasota Pride exists to promote the elimination of prejudice and discrimination as well as to defend civil rights secured by law. The nonprofit aims to promote visibility and self-esteem among the LGBTQ community in Sarasota and throughout Florida, something the organization says it does by sponsoring events year-round.That culminates in PrideFest, Sarasota Pride Chairman Cindy Barnes says. “We pull the community together and give people a venue to come be who they want to be, showing the diversity of Sarasota and the surrounding area.”

This year’s theme will be “Rainbow Resistance,” something Barnes calls a direct response to the Trump administration. “First we had domestic partnerships and that made us happy, and then we had gay marriage and that made us happy,” she says. “Then we changed administrations and here we go, we’re going the other direction.

“They would do away with gay marriage if they could in a heartbeat,” Barnes continues. “We can’t just sit back … we have to keep standing up and pushing back because they’re going to. They do it every day.”

PrideFest 2018 will encourage attendees to continue the fight for equality. “It’s not ever the group that does it, it’s individuals doing it every day that continue to push us forward,” she says. “That’s what people need to know. They need to be empowered and they need to know that they have a voice.”

Nearly 60 vendors are expected to fill J.D. Hamel Park, which Barnes says hosted over 5,000 attendees for last year’s event. With the continued sponsorship of Tropicana, CAN Community Health and Embracing our Differences, Barnes is hopeful to surpass 2017’s attendance.

“Our biggest year was probably in 2013,” she says. “I feel like that energy’s back again this year because of the political climate. I think people are looking for any type of event where they can get out and let things be known … It’s pretty much local people getting involved, and I really appreciate that.”

A full day of entertainment is scheduled from noon until 6 p.m., hosted by the “First Lady of Sarasota” Lindsay Carlton-Cline. Fellow drag entertainers Georgia Moore, Rockell Blu, Savannah Lynn, Trixie Liemont and Grandma Pearl will perform in-between live music provided by fan favorites The Cheaters, The Honey Vines, Divine AF and Kelly Neff.

“I’m not even doing an opening ceremony this year,” Barnes says, “we’ve got so much entertainment.

“We should all be together, all for one, doing everything together to try to push this movement forward,” Barnes adds. “Pride is a time that you see people you haven’t seen all year and you reconnect. Sarasota Pride is a community—come and enjoy the day.”

For more information about PrideFest 2018 or its surrounding events, visit and

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