PHOTOS: St Pete Pride 2022 Stonewall Reception

ABOVE: St Pete Pride Stonewall Reception attendees. Photo by Dylan Todd.

ST. PETERSBURG | St Pete Pride’s Stonewall Reception returned June 17, held once again at The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art.

Supporters reflected on the birth of the LGBTQ civil rights movement and more.

Speakers included J. Carl DeVine, executive director of Banyan Tree Project, Inc. and a community advocate for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The longtime activist was present during the 1969 Stonewall Riots.

“I remember the fight, the sounds, the smells, the fear,” he addressed attendees. An educator, he noted he was unable to stay because “I could not be caught in a gay bar. We couldn’t be seen holding hands together.”

“One of the blessings is that we have an opportunity now to unite and make things right,” he continued. “Are you willing to do it? You have a responsibility to make this a better country. You have a responsibility and you have the money and the power and everything to go with it to change this world. Do you really want to change this world? Then change it.”

State Rep. Michele Rayner followed, calling 2022 another Stonewall moment. She called on members of the LGBTQ community to engage politically and for allies to become accomplices.

“We have folks in Tallahassee specifically that are hoping and praying that we’re so tired that we won’t do anything,” Rayner said. “They keep hammering us with law after law after law and bad bill after bad bill because their hope is that it can wear you out.

“We’ve got to mobilize,” she continued. “There is an agenda and our very lives are on the line. It’s up to us, just like it was up to our ancestors and our predecessors, to change it. The moment is now.”

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch spoke next. Despite threats to American democracy, he noted, “we stand together – which is what Pride is all about.”

“We can’t control what happens in the state, but we can control what happens in St. Pete,” Welch added. “We will not move backwards in St. Petersburg … we are a city where there’s a place for everyone.

“I’m proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with my LGBTQ+ family,” he concluded. “I’m looking forward to riding my new Harley in the Pride parade, but more importantly after that celebration … continuing our partnership to building a St. Petersburg where everyone is treated equally.”

Raymond James and Tampa General Hospital representatives also spoke, flanked by addresses from St Pete Pride board members. Speakers included Darius Lightsey as well as Secretary Molly Robison, Executive Director Nicole Berman and President Tiffany Freisberg, who was surprised on stage by her family in celebration of her birthday.

Watermark was proud to attend. Read our in-depth coverage of St Pete Pride’s 20-year celebration here and view our photos below.

Photos by Dylan Todd.

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