ABOVE: Pridegoers prepare for the inaugural Venice Pride’s pet blessing Nov. 3, 2018. Photo by Ryan Williams-Jent.
Venice, Fla. | SunCoast Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) will hold the second annual Venice Pride on Nov. 2 to highlight Southern Sarasota’s growing LGBTQ community.
Suncoast MCC Senior Co-Pastors Rev. Dr. Nancy Wilson and Rev. Vickie Miller will welcome attendees to the church’s five-acre campus from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. The organization, which is described as a safe spiritual home for the LGBTQ community and its allies, hosted the inaugural Venice Pride in 2018.
The celebration was founded to promote the area’s LGBTQ and ally population. It seeks to raise awareness that “We Are Here,” its recurring theme.
“Not only that we are here, but that we are here as active, responsible and contributing members of the community,” Miller elaborates. “We want to make our community a better place.”
“I was overwhelmed by the support and sponsorship at last year’s event with over 40 businesses and organizations and overall attendance of about 500 individuals and families,” Wilson shares. “Some traveled from as far as Tampa and Ft. Myers and other areas of Florida. In the spirit of Pride this festival will commemorate the strides of the LGBTQ community and is especially important now, as some are trying to undermine our successes.”
“It feels like we met our goals with the inaugural Pride to bring the community together and let people know that there was an LGBTQ community here,” Miller says. “This year is really a celebration of us being present, being connected and a being part of the community.”
The festivities will begin at 11:30 a.m. with a ribbon cutting ceremony. Venice Pride leadership will be joined by elected officials and other LGBTQ advocates from throughout the area to welcome attendees.
The organization’s second annual pet blessing and pet Pride parade will follow at 1:30 p.m. “We really felt like that was a big hit last year,” Miller says. “It brought a lot of excitement and fun to the event.”
Miller hopes this year’s newly-added children’s corner will do the same. “Kids will be able to participate in crafts and fun events,” she says. “We’ve really tried to gear this as a family event that’s suitable for children. We’re encouraging people to bring their kids and their pets.”
Entertainment will run throughout the day, led by D.J. Oliver Dill. Local entertainers include ALSO Youth, Gracie Cespedes, Sarasota’s Diversity Chorus and drag duo Georgia Moore and Rockell Blu. Sheena Brook of NBC’s “The Voice” will also perform.
“I think the message of inclusion, love and acceptance is always a relevant message,” Miller says. “Our hope is to bring a diverse group of people together and continue to spread messages of hope, joy, acceptance and love for everyone.”
The second annual Venice Pride will be held Nov. 2 at SunCoast MCC, located at 3276 E. Venice Ave. in Venice. For more information, visit VeniceFLPride.com.