I find as I grow more familiar with my new hometown, I’m developing a sense of pride about living here. As I explore, I find the people often smile at each other and say hello. Doors are opened for each other, and there’s a general feeling of friendliness.
Every day I see so many people walking and cycling places instead of driving. People jogging, or just walking to enjoy the view. People commuting to buy groceries and get around.
This past week I got to experience a more specific sort of pride: LGBT Pride. On Thursday I walked over to St. Pete City Hall to watch the raising of the pride flag. It’s the 3rd year St. Pete has raised the pride flag, and I was glad to be a part of the ceremony. I was glad to stand in support of my LGBT friends and family.
There was a goodly number of people there, but not as many as I expected. After the shooting at Pulse Orlando (my thoughts here), I guess it’s not too surprising. Fear may have kept some away. Many cities might not raise the pride flag over their city hall for fear of offending its non-LGBT population or even retaliation in the likes of Pulse Orlando. I’m proud of St. Petersburg for being a town that welcomes LGBT folks and won’t silence itself in fear.
A friend and I also got together to experience the Pride Parade on Saturday evening. To me it just felt like a street celebration. There were lots of vendors, people in costumes, dancing, and just general fun. Of course the primary color scheme was rainbows, in celebration of the LGBT community.
The parade started somberly, with participants carrying the names of the victims of Pulse Orlando. Some of the people carrying the signs were visibly distraught as they walked, perhaps carrying the name of the loved one they lost. It was a reminder of the various atrocities committed against LGBT people across the ages. The message was powerful as name after name filed past. It seemed to take a long time.
After all of the names of the victims went by, the parade turned festive. Rainbow floats passed by. Beads and trinkets were thrown to the crowd. Dancers put on awesome displays.
My friend and I watched for awhile, and then walked and enjoyed the sights. Men kissing men. Women holding hands with women. Men and women dancing. People in crazy, rainbow costumes. A mix of all in celebration of love and diversity.
I’ve only lived in St. Pete for a couple of weeks now (how time flies!), but the atmosphere here is what I was hoping for. Pedestrian and cycling friendly (friendly, but not besties in the cycling area). A lot of open-minded people.
I’m glad I chose to live in The Burg. I’m already growing to love my new hometown.