Project Pride at Sarasota Pride 2022. (Photo by Dylan Todd)
The nonprofit presented last year’s event in conjunction with Sarasota Pride, Inc., announcing their merger during the celebration. They promised to build upon its legacy of uniting the LGBTQ+ community, a key part of Project Pride’s mission.
“Our goal is to showcase the positive aspects of our lives and Sarasota as an inclusive community with partners and allies who appreciate the diversity of its citizens,” their website reads. This year’s celebration will be held at a new location and include new signature events for that reason.
“We approached this year with allyship and partnership in mind,” Project Pride President Jason Champion says. “We brought in new vendors and new allies within the community that were looking to support us; it’s important that the LGBTQ+ community in Sarasota remains visible.”
An inaugural Pride Bike Rally will kick off festivities at 11 a.m., when 100 cyclists will “ride to Pride in style before the show starts.” Participants can either bring or rent a bicycle and will be followed by a 100-foot section of Project Pride’s Progressive Pride flag from Main St. to the Rosemary District.
Leading the charge will be Grand Marshal Tom Edwards, who was elected to the Sarasota County School Board in 2020. The openly gay official “is its only moderate voice advocating for the freedom of teachers, the rights of ALL students and parents and the preservation of public schools from the destructive, political winds of privatization,” Project Pride notes.
Sarasota socialite Donna Koffman will join him as this year’s Honorary Ally. The organization says her “unwavering support and dedication to promoting equality for the LGBTQ+ community has left an indelible mark on our hearts … she has truly earned this well-deserved recognition.”
Burlesque performer VooDoo von BoomBoom and radio personality Jonah Ray will host from the main stage, introducing an eclectic assortment of speakers and entertainment. Attendees will hear from politicians like Sarasota Mayor Kyle Battie, activists like Zander Moricz and be treated to nearly 20 different performances.
Groups like Diversity: The Voices of Sarasota and Brittany Zeff and Crew will provide live music, with comedy from the likes of Poppy J Snacks and dance from troupes including the Azara Ballet. Drag will also heavily feature.
Performers include Florida Entertainer of the Year Twila Holiday from Orlando, Sarasota staple Lindsay Carlton-Cline and Tampa Bay’s Brianna Summers, with a headlining showcase from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum Thorgy Thor.
The fan favorite competed on the reality show’s eighth season before returning for “All Stars” season three. The professional musician is also known for her “Thorgy and the Thorchestra” performances, where she’s played the violin, viola and cello with orchestras around the world.
“I’m proud to show up and entertain,” Thorgy tells Watermark. “Festivals are about bringing the community together and having fun. That’s what I’m there to be part of.” View a video below and read our interview with the performer here.
Sarasota Pride will also include a Kids Zone with a bounce house from ALSO Youth and a Pride Pet Parade. More than 80 vendors will be present, along with an assortment of food and drink including alcohol for those 21+.
After 5 p.m., official festivities will continue with an official after party with SRQ Beats. A jungle-themed event promises “a night of celebration, inclusivity and pure fun” from 8 p.m.-midnight, with tickets starting at $30.
“We approached this year working to build Pride as ‘LGBTQ+ a lot more’ because we’re doctors, we’re attorneys, we’re artists, we’re musicians — we’re not just LGBTQ+,” Champion says. “It’s a part of us but it doesn’t define us. Sarasota Pride is going to showcase our community and our allies. This is an all-inclusive festival to unite Sarasota in a time of need.”
Sarasota Pride will be held Oct. 21 from 12-5 p.m. at Blvd. of the Arts from Florida Ave. to Lemon Ave., with events at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.-midnight. For more information, visit PPSRQ.org/SarasotaPride.
You can also read more about the region in Watermark’s 2023 Sarasota Living with Pride Guide.