Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A: St. Pete Pride director talks about this year's celebration

It's a year of firsts for St. Pete Pride, the annual weekend bash celebrating gay pride with every color of the rainbow.

It will span four days this year, Thursday through Sunday, and include a parade, concerts and exhibits scattered throughout the weekend.

Eric Skains is the organization's executive director. He was formerly involved with Pride in Houston and this will be his first year leading the St. Petersburg festivities. Here, he answers some questions about what to expect this year:

Can you tell me a little bit about this year's Pride theme, "Global Equality?"

It was something that we put up for a community vote. Last year at our board retreat, we came up with three different themes and then let our online community decide. It's kind of perfect timing. Not only does it cover equality all over the globe, but also LGBT equality on more of a worldwide aspect, like how a lot of attention was given to what happened in Russia during the Olympics.

This is a year of firsts for St. Pete Pride. Did you approach Mayor Rick Kriseman to participate, or did he approach you?

We had known for awhile that Rick was going to be in the parade. We approached him, but it was kind of assumed that he would walk. He walked as a candidate last year and as a City Council member, too. Also, for the first time, St. Pete police will be able to participate wearing their uniforms. All city staff members and officials are encouraged to come out and walk.

What do you think this participation says about attitudes toward the LGBT community in St. Pete?

I think St. Pete in general, at least in City Hall, is finally representative of the community that makes up St. Pete. There's no really defined gay district in St. Petersburg, and that's not because one's not wanted, it's because one is not needed. You can go anywhere in confidence and know you won't be harassed or feel unwelcome.

St. Pete Pride will span four days this year — what inspired the extension?

Two things — we kind of maxed out what we could do in one day. We wanted to separate the parade and the festival. It also increases length of stay for people who are coming from out of town. We have about 40 percent of attendees living outside Pinellas County, and of that we've seen about 3,800 hotel rooms being booked for that weekend. Just even our T-shirts, people are buying T-shirts all the way from Boston and Indiana.

As a gay man, what do you think are the most prevalent challenges facing the LGBT community?

I've said for a while that Pride is not an organization that fights for equality on a legislative level. We fight for equality on a street level. No matter how many laws are overturned, nothing is going to change until we change people's perceptions. Kids aren't committing suicide because they can't get married in Florida, but because they're being bullied and harassed. The reason Matthew Shepard was murdered has to do with how those kids were raised. Just look at race in this country. The laws changed a long time ago, but there's still a racial divide. It's a generational mind-set, and it will take awhile to progress forward.

What do you hope participants take away from the weekend celebration?

We hope that people see the diversity that is St. Petersburg. That's part of the reason it is in St. Pete, because of the inclusion and diversity. We hope that the event is reflective of that. Even when people leave, we want them to know that even though Pride is only one weekend a year, there are plenty of LGBT-friendly businesses and corporations here all year long.

Katie Mettler can be reached at kmettler@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8913. Follow her on Twitter @kemettler.

.THE SCHEDULE

If you go

Thursday: The weekendlong celebration begins with a formal reception from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Museum of Fine Arts at 255 Beach Drive NE. Tickets are $35 and must be purchased ahead of time.

Friday: St. Pete Pride will join with Sarasota Pride to put on a benefit concert at 7 p.m. at State Theatre at 687 Central Ave. The show will feature Grammy-nominated artist Mary Lambert, the female vocalist from Macklemore's song Same Love, and the Real L Word's Hunter Valentine. Tickets are $25 general admission.

Saturday: St. Pete Pride's parade will kick off with a block party at 5 p.m. on Central Avenue, between 22nd and 27th streets. The parade steps off at sunset.

Sunday: The daytime festival at 2429 Central Ave. will begin at 11 a.m. Motown Records artist Vernessa Mitchell will headline the event, which includes more than 300 vendors, multiple stages, a wellness pavilion and the St. Pete Art Mash.

Q&A: St. Pete Pride director talks about this year's celebration 06/22/14 [Last modified: Sunday, June 22, 2014 11:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: Pinellas cannot ignore homeless families

    Editorials

    They are living on our streets and in our parking lots, in cheap motels and spare bedrooms if they're lucky and in old cars if they are not. Their kids attend our schools, and parents often are afraid to seek help. Pinellas County has made progress in recent years in providing temporary shelter for the homeless, but …

    
Ariana Turner, 22, and her daughter, Namine Cowell, 2, are living at St. Petersburg Free Clinic Family Residence after falling on hard times. Pinellas County has made progress in recent years in providing temporary shelter for the homeless, but homeless families with kids are virtually shut out. It's a crisis that requires public and private leadership to find an answer that is both compassionate and cost-effective.
  2. Report: USF faculty complained of a hostile, sexist, boorish boss

    College

    TAMPA — A certain University of South Florida academic may be an unpopular and insensitive bully, but he did not break USF rules, a lengthy legal review has concluded.

    Herb Maschner was removed last fall as the head of a technology center at the University of South Florida after the school learned his previous employer found he engaged in inappropriate, on-campus sexual behavior. A new report looks at Maschner's tenure at USF. [Idaho State University]
  3. Oh, deer! Two bucks seen on video duking it out in Tennessee

    Wildlife

    Deer generally are seen as calm and serene creatures, but that was not the case in this video posted Wednesday on the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency's Facebook page.

    A video, shot by Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency wildlife officers Amy and Bubba Spencer on one of their trail cameras, shows two bucks on their hind legs and flailing in an open field. [Facebook]

  4. Pedestrian dies after being struck by vehicle near USF Tampa campus

    Accidents

    A pedestrian was killed near the University of South Florida Tampa campus on Friday after he was struck by a car on Fletcher Avenue, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

  5. Prada is selling a $185 paperclip. Excuse me, what?

    Blogs

    Prada is selling a $185 paperclip. File that (with regular office supplies) under things you don't need.