Project Pride SRQ announces Grand Pride Flag March, scheduled for Saturday, June 29, on Ringling Bridge

Event to begin at 9 a.m. 

On June 29, Project Pride SRQ will ‘light the bridge’ with the Grand Pride Flag March. Photo courtesy of Project Pride

In response to the news that the state of Florida would not allow the lighting of its bridges — including the John Ringling Bridge in Sarasota — in rainbow colors for Pride Month this year, LGBTQ+ advocacy group Project Pride SRQ (PPSRQ) is planning to “light the bridge” its way, the organization has announced.

Project Pride will conduct a Grand Pride Flag March over the Ringling Bridge on Saturday, June 29, at 9 a.m., a news release says.

“PPSRQ’s Grand Flag is the largest progressive Pride flag in the country,” at more than 700 feet in length, the release points out. Event organizers are inviting members of the community “to participate in a stunning display of unity and pride as walkers light up the bridge with their colorful presence,” the release continues. “The vibrant celebration, showcasing the strength and diversity of our community, will start on the south end of the bridge.”

Scheduled to speak before the walk begins are activist Zander Moricz, founder and executive director of the SEE (Social Equity through Education) Alliance; Jason Champion, PPSRQ president; Paul Lotierzo, PPSRQ executive director; Tom Edwards, Sarasota County School Board member; and Jules Rayne, Equality Florida community organizer, the release notes

“Ever since the passage of the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law, Florida has become ground zero for discriminatory LGBTQ+ legislation, which is being replicated in numerous states across the country,” said Champion in the release. “Numerous media outlets and watchdog organizations are calling Florida the least gay-friendly state, and we are sad to say that we agree,” Champion added in the release.

“As Governor [Ron] DeSantis touts his so-called ‘Freedom Summer,’ with bridge lights limited to red, white and blue, we affirm our freedom to light the bridge our way: with love, inclusion and pride,” Champion continued.

Among the Florida Legislature’s actions that Project Pride SRQ points to as anti-LGBTQ+ are the ban on teachers using pronouns that align with students’ gender identities (a law that has been blocked by a federal judge); “gender-affirming care for minors (just blocked on June 11 by a federal judge)”; a ban on transgender individuals changing their drivers’ licenses to match their gender identities; a ban on transgender women’s and girls’ participation in female sports; and “crackdowns on drag shows (blocked by a federal judge),” the release explains. Additionally, Florida led the nation in book bans for the first half of the 2023-2024 school year, the release points out, “with the state responsible for more than 70% of the books that have been pulled from school libraries/classroom bookshelves across the nation.”

“The LGBTQ+ community continues to face significant hurdles in this state. Yet, I am in awe of the immense joy and resilience that defines our community here in Sarasota,” said PPSRQ Executive Director Lotierzo in the release. “It is a privilege to share in this joy and to stand with our siblings and allies as we navigate these trying times together. We look forward to robust attendance during our Grand Pride Flag March!”
Parking will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the John Ringling Bridge (the address is 920 John Ringling Causeway in Sarasota), the release notes. Additional parking will be available at The Bay Park on the city’s waterfront, near the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center.

For more information, visit ppsrq.org/event. For more about Project Pride and all of its Pride Month events, visit ppsrq.org.

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