Tampa Pride returns for 8th celebration

ABOVE: Tampa Pride 2021. Photo by Dylan Todd.

TAMPA | Tampa Pride will return for its eighth celebration March 26, a full day of activities and entertainment designed to unite the LGBTQ community.

An estimated 80,000 people attended Tampa Pride in 2021, making it the largest public event ever held in Ybor, its historic host city. It was also billed as the nation’s first in-person Pride celebration last year.

“We are proud to be in our eighth year,” Tampa Pride President Carrie West says. “2021 had us in a flurry of on-and-off again events, but Tampa Bay was on fire with winning Tampa teams – the Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Lightning, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and of course: Tampa Pride 2021.”

With entries for this year’s parade having sold out, organizers expect Tampa Pride will continue to grow in 2022. This year’s theme is “The House of Tampa Pride,” which pays homage to the ballroom community and its contributions to the liberation movement.

“We chose this theme to accomplish two goals: to celebrate the communities that fought to afford us the rights which we have today and to provide some perspective,” Tampa Pride Vice President Trevor James says. “There is power in numbers and when we stand together, that’s when our light shines the brightest.”

A total of six individuals and one organization will be honored this year as grand marshals, which Tampa Pride introduced to supporters at their 2022 Grand Marshal Gala. They will lead the 2022 Diversity Parade, scheduled to begin March 26 at 4 p.m. along 7th Ave.

Rich Kerin will serve as a grand marshal, Empath Partners in Care Executive Director Joy Winheim and her wife Lael Winheim will serve as the grand couple, Gay Men’s Chorus of Tampa Bay President Bill Kanouff will be recognized as a community trailblazer and former Tampa Mayor Dick Greco will serve as the LGBTQA Recognized Community Leader. Metro Inclusive Health is Tampa Pride’s recognized organization.

The organization will also pay tribute to the late Gerald J. Mayes, the honorary grand marshal more widely known as drag legend Tiffani Middlesexx. The performer will be recognized with a special presentation during the parade.

Official Tampa Pride events will begin before then at MCC Tampa, Mayes’ LGBTQ-affirming church that marked 50 years of service in 2021. An interfaith service will be held March 21 at 7 p.m.

Tampa Pride’s VIP Sponsors Party will follow March 24 from 6-10 p.m. at Hotel Alba before Tampa Pride weekend kicks off with Vivica’s Pink Secret: The Mini-Ball. The ticketed event is guaranteed to “bring out the rawness of ballroom” at The Cuban Club.

This year’s street festival will follow March 26, beginning at 10:45 a.m. A food truck alley and a wide variety of vendors will be featured, as will spaces dedicated to artisans and health and wellness organizations. Entertainment will be held in and outside of The Cuban Club from 12-4 p.m., featuring local fan favorites and celebrity grand marshal Eric Himan.

Tampa Pride will subsequently present the second annual Pride at Night from 7-11 p.m. at The Cuban Club. Aja LaBeija and Kandy Muse from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” will headline the 21+ evening of entertainment.

Tampa Pride is working diligently to move the LGBTQ community forward, West says. He and the board encourage supporters to join them in and around Ybor for events beginning March 21.

For more information about Tampa Pride 2022, visit TampaPride.org and pick up the official Tampa Pride guide in Tampa Bay print editions of Watermark March 17-30, also available at WatermarkOnline.com.

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