Jacksonville Shows its Pride

By: Tristan Reyes and Amanda Allen

Pride by definition is a deep pleasure or satisfaction coming from someone’s own
achievements. For the LGBT community, pride is just that or at least something similar. “River City Pride” was able to set up the Bank of America Pride Parade and the Pride Festival in order to support and empower the LGBT community.

What makes these two events important? What does the LGBT community think of it? What is PRIDE? We came down and had our questions answered firsthand.

The Parade was large and spectacular. Many nonprofit organizations came together to set up shop for the parade. While they represent resource centers like UNF’s LGBT resource center, or are promoters for the next candidate for mayor, they all support Pride.

Several different types of people were at the parade from Willowbranch Park to Five Points. Some were young, some old, and many who bear the rainbow flag marched along the parade. If not a rainbow, there are several other flags. There is the blue, pink, and white flag that represents transgender individuals and red, yellow, and blue flags that represent pansexuality.

The day after the parade was the Pride Festival at Riverside Artist Square. Somewhat like the parade, many vendors, health organizations, and supporters of the LGBT were there to support the festivals, as well as raising awareness about their organizations.

Some of the organizations that came out to spread information and support include Baptist Health and Lutheran Social Services. Ellen Schmitt, Director of Social Services and Case Management at Baptist Health talks about how the organization’s association with the local LGBT community.

“Baptist is faith-based mission-driven and community-centered and we care about everyone in our community. So we especially want to be mindful of our LGBT community members and show them that we support them and their families,” Schmitt says.

Heather Heather Vaughan, director of Aids Care & education for Lutheran Social Services, sees it also as an opportunity to help other LGBT locals. They were offering free HIV testing as she said that is important for everyone to know their status. She’s aware of how HIV is prevalent in the LGBT community and wants everybody to have HIV testing whenever possible.

Jasmine Elise who is a Student assistant of the UNF LGBT Resource Center along with these other organizations had their different, but similar takes on what Pride means to them. She gave Inside Jacksonville her take on what Pride means from a trans person’s point of view.

“Pride, to me, is just kinda like showing that I’m being proud of who I am because I am out as a Trans individual” says the Elise. “I am pride to be myself instead of being
suppressed.”

Vaughan says, “Jacksonville is a beautiful community made up of a lot of people. It’s allowing us to embrace our community whether it is based upon our race, color, gender, creed, our sexual orientation, where we were born. That is the most awesome thing about this community when it comes together and embraces everyone and loves everyone for just who they are.”