Tampa Celebrates Pride on the River

By Gabriela Mendez

On Sept. 18 the nonprofit organization Tampa Pride celebrated its 2021 Pride On The River along the Hillsborough River and held several family-friendly activities throughout the day. 

The mission for this event was posted on their website as “to organize year-round events, culminating in an annual Pride event that celebrate members of the LGBTQ+ community in Tampa and the surrounding areas- championing our shared experiences, honoring our differences and strengthening our community.” 

The turnout for the event was larger than some volunteers who attended expected it to be. The admittance was free but there was a fee of $50 for a VIP ticket. 

Adachi Selas, Junior Psychology major, was one of the students who helped with Pride On The River and hopes that UT implements events like this in the future.

“It was a large turnout, mostly affluent whites from what I could tell in the boat parade although the regular attendance was a bit more diverse,” said Selas. “The event was marketed as a boat parade and spots were expensive so it drew a certain crowd. Also those willing to pay or spend a few hours there seemed to be very passionate about celebrating LGBTQ+ pride.”

The event kicked off with a Drag Brunch from 1 to 3 p.m. that was hosted by a local Tampa Bay drag queen Brianna Summers and took place at Anchor & Brine located at Tampa’s Marriott Water Street. 

The University of Tampa had some students volunteer throughout the event to help with managing the event and setting up for the entertainments. 

“We don’t have enough LGBTQ+ centered events even from our own Pride group. It would get great reception as well based on the turnout at 2019-2020 Pride events when the executive board was full of passionate people,” said Selas. 

The main focus of the event was the Diversity Boat Parade at 3 p.m. that went along the Hillsborough River in Downtown Tampa that was held for the first time ever this year. 

To register a boat one had to pay a fee from between $90 for a regular entry and $150 for VIP entry. 

The event continued from 4 to 8 p.m with a Riverside Festival that was held on the pier at Armature works and had several artist perform plus a special performance by drag queen Alyssa Edwards who appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race. 

Many of those who attended found the entertainment to fit with the overall theme and message of Pride On The River. 

“There was a lot of pride and the music was on theme, the boat decorations were on theme. It was surface level but still accomplished the mission,” Valeria Perez, senior Psychology Major.  

The event ended at 8:15 p.m. with firework shows in Tampa Heights. 

Many left the event after a full day of activities ready for next year and hoping that events like these appear more for the LGBTQ+ community in Tampa. 

“I do feel like Tampa should have more events with LGBT in mind and more shows that are more accessible besides through ybor or clubs that some LGBT members do not feel comfortable going or visiting,” said Perez.  

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