Activist community

Pride Center banquet honors those who support the LGBTQ+ community

Gainesville Pride Week kicked off Sunday night with a awards banquet aimed at honoring those for their outstanding involvement, support and contributions to the LGBTQ+ community.

It was the first in-person event after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individual winners of the banquet, held at the Sweetwater Branch Inn, included London Darling, who was named Community Member of the Year; Clare Holman, Volunteer of the Year; and Linda Bassham, who received the Special Lifetime Service Award.

Bassham, who for years was treasurer of the Pride Community Center of North Central Floridahas been a local leader in feminist and LGBTQ+ activism since the 1960s.

Leslie Howell accepts the Special Exemplary Service Award on behalf of the Gainesville Area AIDS Project, during the North Central Florida Pride Community Center's Spirit of Pride Awards Dinner Sunday night at the Sweetwater Branch Inn in Gainesville.

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The Unspoken Treasure Society was named Community Group of the Year, while Opus Coffee was named Business Member of the Year.

The Gainesville Area AIDS Project received the Special Award for Exemplary Service.

Equality Florida

Keynote speaker Nikole Parker, Director of Transgender Equality at Equality Florida, spoke about the challenges she faces as a trans woman of Black, Puerto Rican, and Italian descent. She also spoke about the struggles of the trans community and the importance of maintaining the legality and accessibility of trans-affirming health care.

While the annual Pride Parade will not take place this year due to financial and logistical constraints, the popular pride party will be back at Bo Diddley Plaza from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturday.

The festival, which is free and open to the public, will feature entertainment by local LGBTQ+ artists, lawn activities for people of all ages, and a variety of vendors.

Suzanne walked through the crowds at the Pride Festival on Saturday 20 October 2018. The festival started with a parade and continued into the night at Bo Diddley.  (Gloria Cat / Gainesville Sunshine)

The celebration will culminate with the Gainesville Pride Brunch on Sunday at the Paramount Grille, 12 SW First Ave., in downtown Gainesville. Tickets for the two-course meal are sold out.

Attendees will be able to choose from dishes such as Crab Cake Benedict with Poached Eggs, Blackened Salmon on Roasted Potatoes and more.

The North Central Florida Pride Community Center, along with the Gainesville office of Planned Parenthood, have been vandalized at the end of September. Windows were smashed by bricks and notes were left in both places, at least one of which contained hate speech.

“The Pride Community Center of North Central Florida remains committed to being a safe place, and this display of hate has only strengthened our resolve to continue showing our love for our beautiful LGBTQ+ community,” Tamára said. Perry-Lunardo, the center’s director. , after the incident. “We are here, we are queer – loud and proud.”