a draft of my st pete pride preview!

this is my first “article” ever, and i am super stoked about it!  [also a bit terrified, haha]

As Pride month rapidly approaches, I take a moment to think about the things that make me proud. In addition to being gay, something that I am also proud of is being a second-generation St. Pete native. Since the ‘Burg throws the biggest and best LGBTQ Pride celebration in the entire state of Florida year after year, June is inevitably the time that I am most proud of my city, my scene, my home.

Most of us who have been celebrating Pride Weekend in Hot Pete for the past eleven years know that the heat is something that can be its biggest downfall: we feel our shaved scalps, braless chests, skillfully-applied drag-queen makeup, wigs, and high heels, melting off of us more quickly by the minute—and who can properly cheer for each float going by [let alone get a phone number from that cute grrl/boi/queen standing nearby] when their ass is sweating?

One of the biggest changes coming to Pride 2014 should make everyone happier, though, whether you’re riding on one of the outrageous parade floats or flashing your fabulousness to get some beads in the crowd. This year’s Pride Parade will be at night! While past years’ 8AM start time got most of us out of bed before the shots from the previous night had fully worn off, the Parade this year will not begin until sundown. This has gotten most locals more stoked than ever, and can guarantee that 2014’s turnout will beat out the past few years’ 120,000 + people in attendance.

Another big change this year is a first for St. Pete Pride: Mayor Rick Kriseman is walking in the parade!  City officials are finally ready to embrace the LGBTQ Community.  Local firefighters and police officers will also be permitted, for the first time, to walk through the parade in their uniforms.

St. Pete’s bars, clubs, and restaurants are always excited to celebrate- mostly because St. Pete Pride is one of the most fun, sparkly, and mayhem-filled events of the year. And with this year’s new and improved 5PM block party start time, they will probably end up receiving more business for the day. The 8AM start was great in terms of getting the party started early, but let’s face it- most of us couldn’t keep our heads up by the time 5PM came around, let alone shut the bars down!

If you’re looking to start the Pride celebration out the right way—as in, the beginning of June when Pride month begins—your best bet is the Community Café on Central Ave., a locally owned and operated café that resides directly on the Parade route. The Café has several awesome events throughout the month of June, from a Pride Art Gallery, to an LGBTQ Speed-Dating event, to a Pride Prom and LGBTQ Open Mic night! Check out the café’s page for more info: http://communitycafestpete.com/ This is the Café’s first Pride, and it is sure to be a great one!

To start Pride Weekend off with a bang, the State Theatre is hosting a “27/82” benefit concert to celebrate diversity and raise funds for local non-profit organizations. Nationally acclaimed “out” artist Mary Lambert will be performing, as well as Brooklyn-based lesbian group Hunter Valentine. An up-and-coming local favorite to watch out for that night is Connor Zwetsch, the Bay Area’s own girl-next-door. Zwetsch is a 21-year-old singer/ songwriter whose sultry voice graced the airwaves of American Idol season 13.

As for Saturday, lunching anywhere in town is a new option, since the parade won’t start until sunset. No matter what, though, make sure to get downtown at least a few hours early to find decent parking. Most of Central Avenue will be closed for the parade, so aim to find a spot a few blocks away. When you’re ready to get your drink on, head to one of the most underrated spots for the Pride Parade: the VFW. Not normally a typical LGBTQ hangout, the VFW has super-cheap beer, good music, and draws a fun, young crowd. Georgie’s Alibi, where the parade begins, will be having their annual Pride food and drink specials throughout the day. The Community Café will have their usual daily and late-night food and drink selections, along with rainbow cupcakes to top it off. They’ll also be bringing in a live dj to turn things up a notch. Once you’re ready to cut a rug, you’ll want to check out Enigma, one of St. Pete’s newest gay bars, for fun, dancing, and great drink specials, or head back to the Alibi for much of the same.

When you want to ease Sunday morning’s hangover, head to The Queens Head, Central Avenue’s modish Eurobar. The Queens Head will be open for the duration of Saturday’s festivities, along with their consistently delicious Sunday “Brady Brunch.” Their Mimosas and Bloody Marys are guaranteed to melt that headache away.

St. Pete is the best place in Florida to celebrate Pride, so you really can’t go wrong anywhere you go! Just make sure to arrive early and stay late, so you don’t miss out on any of the festivities.

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