As St. Pete Pride returns for 2017, here are five trends to look for during this weekend's celebrations. Click here for parade times, parties, pride events and more.
Last fall, a Tumblr user introduced the idea that the titular monster of the 2014 Australian horror film The Babadook is a gay icon. It's part of a rich history of LGBTQ people taking relatable cinematic moments to find some semblance of representation. Or perhaps it's just a tongue-in-cheek nod to society viewing queer people as monsters. But it totally works: the Babadook's drama is as intense as his nails and top hat.
As the Internet caught wind of the "Babadiscourse" earlier this year, memes, jokes and art took off, with people suiting up as the Babadook for Pride parades across the nation. There's likely to be some Floridians braving the St. Pete heat in a Babalewk, so keep an eye out for top hats and drama.
Pride flags that aren't the rainbow
Activist Gilbert Baker, who died in March at 65, created the rainbow flag in 1978. While the rainbow will no doubt be the most visible symbol this weekend, the variety of pride flags has grown to include other symbols of inclusion, sexual orientation and gender.
A few of the flags you may see (but by no means all) are the transgender flag, right, (five horizontal bars stacked blue, pink, white, pink blue), bisexual flag (fields of blue and purple that overlap to create a lavender stripe), genderqueer flag (three stripes, lavender, white and green), and, unveiled just this month in Philadelphia, a rainbow flag with black and brown stripes on top — a visible commitment to equality for queer people of color.
And because the LGBTQ community is constantly evolving and artists try their hand at improving visibility, there are plenty of newer flags that could fly at Pride.
George Michael tributes
When singer George Michael died in December, tributes from fans who saw him as a trailblazer for LGBTQ acceptance and a visible gay icon for kids growing up in the 1990s. "George Michael was an entire generation's First Gay...," tweeted writer Philip Ellis.
Michael tributes at pride parades this year have included a "Saint George" float featuring a robed, halo-sporting Michael surrounded by candles at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. In St. Petersburg, artist Adam Scott Rote will unveil a Michael tribute painting at Ocean Blue Galleries on Saturday at 4 p.m. ("I Want Your Sextinis" will be served), but don't be surprised to see other tributes around town, including fashion-centric ones.
Chad Mize's Pride shirts
Artist Chad Mize will have a booth at Sunday's street festival in the Grand Central District, with offerings including his Saint Peter design, a collaboration with Travis Hise. He has five other new designs, as well as his old favorites, which combine his use of graphics, color and humor — his shirt featuring a kitten saying "gay pride cat gonna lick you & make you gay!" was a hit a couple years back. There are other vendors at the festival too, of course, but if you want to find Mize, he'll be in booth A18 and A19, on the corner of Central Avenue and 23rd St. N.
Clever political signs
Maybe you've noticed, but it's a heated time for political discourse in the United States, which has lent itself to this year's pride celebrations taking on a defiant tone as much as a celebratory one. That means if you're out to see some clever political signs, this weekend's events could deliver. Think along the lines of some of those spotted at the Equality March earlier this month in Washington, D.C., where signs that made the rounds on social media read "The Gay Agenda: 1. equality, 2. be fabulous, 3. brunch," or "Harry Potter taught us that no one deserves to live in a closet" or "c.o.v.f.e.f.e. = cause only very fragile egos fear equality."