by Sebastian Gordon
Strive, the first-ever PensaPride, was held on Saturday, June 26th. The event was entirely LGBTQ+ run Pride that focused on art, music, community, and solidarity.
Strive is a Nonprofit Organization that advocates for transgender people in Escambia County. They are the only group of their caliber on the Gulf Coast. They serve the Pensacola Community and outlying areas to support the LGBTQ+ community.
The purpose of the event was to teach about the revolutionary history of the LGBTQ+ community, promote activism, and celebrate Pride. The three defining characteristics of this new kind of Pride included; no cops, no corporations, and no alcohol (permitted or sold).
These three issues directly harm the LGBTQ+ movement. Many individuals have expressed their wish not to see them at pride events. That being the case, Strive had the opportunity to start this new kind of Pride.
The event opened at 10 AM with a caravan from Open Books to the Pensacola Arts Market, which is where the Pride festival was held from 11 AM- to 5 PM.
Opening remarks were at 11:10 AM, where all attendees were greeted with warm welcomes by the large community. Music was played, and guests were able to walk around the various stands and mingle.
A vigil was held at noon to honor all the LGBTQ+ individuals who have lost their lives fighting for LGBTQ+ rights. It also gave a moment to reflect on the extensive history of Pride.
A performance was held directly after by crybaby, hopeful. Next, there were a couple of speakers, most directly connected to the Strive organization, who provided helpful information regarding the event’s goals.
Hane Skot, a local non-binary singer/songwriter, performed some of their singles. Some songs that they sang included; Matching Pjs & Coffee Cups, Love Sounds Like Us, Lebanon, and Making Due.
More music by Hane Skot can be found on Apple Music and Spotify. They also have Facebook, Instagram, and a website (www.haneskot.com). They have merch available, and all profits will go towards covering their top surgery, and once that happens, they said they plan to give any other money to other local transgender individuals for their top surgeries.
Cookies and Cake was another group that performed at Pride. They are mostly hip-hop-based and performed some pride-related raps.
Finally, there was “Drag in the Park.” Many local drag queens/kings showed up and performed their hearts out.
These performers included; Angel Collins, Aniyah J Oshanns, Terrah Card, Zamareyah Dawn, Andy Rodginous, Bella Beezy, Yantaria Divine, Kendyll Michaels, Canary Diamond, Scarlett Monroe, and Raven Samore. The sound was provided by the “Bugghouse.”
Strive posted, “We expected around 250 people today… Our expectations were exceeded and then some… We estimate that PensaPride 2021 had at least 500 people in attendance, if not more. We are absolutely blown away at the love, community, and solidarity.”
Strive raised $300 from this event, and the Pensacola LGBTQ Shelter raised $450. This event was incredibly successful and helped make a huge impact on the LGBTQ+ residents of Pensacola.
Participants also spoke about the enjoyment of being able to buy from small LGBTQ+-owned businesses. Some vendors included; Zoe Rae Designs, GeekVision Productions, The Shugawooks, CooCoo Castaways, Open Books, I Dream of Jammy, Lightgirl Design, Life’s Natural Beat, Nick’s Buttons, MarriSalt, Bodacious Bookstore and Cafe, Arlene Williams BBQ, Enlightened Crystals OM, The Busy Bee (Mercantile & General Store), and many more.
An online user wrote, “PensaPride 2021 was the best experience I’ve had in a long time. I’ve never felt so loved, not judged, and comfortable somewhere.”
The event was a wonderful time, and everyone involved had a lot of fun. Thank you to Strive for making this wonderful occasion happen. Happy Pride!