LaLa Ri (pictured) and Monet X Change would be this year’s headliners at Come Out With Pride’s festival. (Photo from Come Out With Pride)
ORLANDO | As Oct. 21 approaches, Come Out With Pride has begun putting the final touches on its 2023 parade and festival.
COWP will start the day off at 12 p.m. with its annual Pride festival in Lake Eola Park featuring familiar spots to Pride goers including a marketplace, youth zone, a sober space and more. The Trans March & Rally will begin at 1 p.m. leading into The Most Colorful Parade at 4 p.m.
Pride celebrations across the state this year have all had to contend with the recent onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that has come out of Tallahassee, and COWP is no exception, with them seeing a reduction in support from major sponsors.
“It was an interesting phenomenon that we saw this year, where our major sponsors that we’ve had for countless years, for various reasons, are not coming in at the same level that they had been,” says COWP executive director Tatiana Quiroga.
While Pride has seen past major sponsors coming in at lower levels this year, the organization has seen an increase in lower-level sponsorships this year, many of which are coming in as Pride sponsors for the first time.
“We’re excited that we have so many brand-new relationships and partnerships that we hope to continue to cultivate and grow,” Quiroga says. “It’s led to great conversations and connections with folks that we may not have had in the past and it’s really great to be able to include so many new people as Pride partners.”
One organization that came forward to show its support in a major way this year is AIDS Healthcare Foundation, or AHF, who came in Oct. 4 at presenting sponsor for Pride’s Most Colorful Parade.
“It was an incredible conversation to have with AHF where they fully understood the challenges that we are experiencing this year as an organization, as a community and as a state,” Quiroga says. “They’re so enthusiastic to be able to come in with this extra support. They are already planning on having a pretty big presence at Pride, as they did last year, so now as parade presenting sponsor they are kicking off the parade.”
Another issue brought on by Florida’s anti-LGBTQ+ policies was trying to secure national performers for Pride’s entertainment stages at the festival. Pride recently announced that “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alums LaLa Ri and Monet X Change would be this year’s headliners.
“This is where we see a direct impact with the recent legislation and so it has been a challenge being able to bring national entertainers to participate in Pride,” Quiroga says. “We’re excited by the fact that we’ve found these two nationally recognized talents who are willing to not only come and perform on our local stage but understand the sensitivity that we’re working with when being here in Florida. We appreciate their support and know that they are going to be putting on an incredible show.”
As is recent tradition with Pride, a week full of official events will precede Pride’s parade and festival. These events are partnerships between Pride and other LGBTQ+ organizations in Central Florida. Along with previously announced event partners such as Zebra Youth, Hamburger Mary’s, Impulse Group and more, COWP is partnering with two beloved Orlando LGBTQ+-owned businesses: The Hammered Lamb and Savoy.
“These are long-time partnerships that we’ve had, with Savoy and The Hammered Lamb, so we’re excited to partner on these events,” Quiroga says.
The Hammered Lamb will host Hammered Brunch Oct. 22 from 1-3 p.m. The post-Pride wrap up will be hosted by Darcel Stevens and feature performances by Axel Andrews, Aaliyah Nouveau, Orusha San Miguel and Lacie Browning.
Savoy is partnering with COWP for its own week of Pride events that include Stand Up for Pride comedy show Oct. 17; Pride Bingo Oct. 18; Watermark’s Movies Out Loud, a Pride edition of Latin Night and karaoke Oct. 18; Bear Pride Night with Bear Buffet Oct. 19; and its own Pride recovery brunch and a T-Dance Oct. 22.
For more information, visit ComeOutWithPride.org and check out the official Come Out With Pride guide.