t’s nearly one in the afternoon on Saturday, and I already notice the sweat pooling on my knees after being outside for, oh, five minutes. Climbing into a rideshare and feeling feral, I’ve resigned myself to the sweat to come — a daily lament in Florida summers — when a familiar voice cuts through. The driver’s playing RuPaul. “Are you going to Pride?” I ask Kenneth. He says no — he has to work today — but in the last parade, he was on a float for a well-known local gay resort that no longer exists.
For its pandemic return, St. Pete Pride is celebrating 20 years. With public support from just one City Council member, the first Pride here came days after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which found states’ sodomy laws were unconstitutional in criminalizing gay sex. That momentous decision was welcomed by about 10,000 people gathered among the bungalows and storefronts of the gayborhood.