Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn to participate in St. Petersburg gay pride parade
For the first time ever, the mayor will ride in a convertible at St. Pete Pride’s Carnivale parade, scheduled for June 29.
The mayor of Tampa, that is.
Organizers say Bob Buckhorn will be the highest ranking official to take part in the 11-year history of the event.
"Happy to participate," Buckhorn said Wednesday. "I don't look at it as a particularly big thing. I did it because I thought it was important. I hope it will send a message that not only are we open for business but that we honor and celebrate the accomplishments and the value of everybody. It's really that simple."
In an announcement of Buckhorn's participation, St. Pete Pride executive director Eric Skains described it as "meaningful in many respects."
“It never goes unnoticed to the LGBT community the level of support from the local government as it brings a sense of belonging and acceptance," he said. "We truly appreciate Mayor Buckhorn’s commitment to the LGBT community, and welcome him to the Tampa Bay/St Pete LGBT Pride celebration.”
St. Pete Pride sent invitations earlier this year to elected officials throughout the Tampa Bay area. Along with Buckhorn, organizers have confirmations from St. Petersburg City Council members Jeff Danner and Steve Kornell, Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner, Largo City Commissioner Michael Smith and Gulfport Mayor Sam Henderson and members of the council there.
Organizers have invited Tampa's mayor going back to Pam Iorio's tenure, but Skains said that in the past Tampa officials have deferred on the grounds that it was a St. Petersburg event and since St. Petersburg mayor didn't take part they didn't want to "step on each other's toes."
This year, organizers made the pitch that it may be St. Pete Pride, but the festival is really the Tampa Bay area's pride event and is, Skains said, the largest pride event in the state of Florida.
St. Pete Pride also sent Tampa City Hall a sample proclamation recognizing the event, but the city re-wrote it to make it longer and more detailed, which Skains said was a pleasant surprise.
"Individually and collectively, members of Tampa’s LGBT community contribute greatly to neighborhood revitalization, economic vitality, arts and culture, and the social fabric of our city, state, and country," the proclamation, signed by Buckhorn, reads. "The city of Tampa prides itself on its inclusiveness, one of the first cities in the region to have a domestic partnership registry, and protects its residents from discrimination and harassment based on actual or perceived race, color, sex, religion, disability, age, marital status, place of birth, families with children, sexual orientation or national origin, and we are committed to continued social progress and the cause of human rights, celebrating the great diversity of our community."