Pride and Beyond: Tampa Bay

by Matthew Wexler

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday March 5, 2019

If there is any year to march in solidarity and celebrate the diversity and accomplishments of the LGBTQ community, it's 2019.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the origin of the Pride Parade, the result of the Stonewall Riots of 1969. But you don't have to be in New York City to be rainbow proud.

Tampa Bay has several signature events this spring that you won't want to miss. The Gulf Coast awaits!

Tampa Pride Music & Arts Festival, March 3
The first-ever Tampa Pride Music & Arts Festival kicks off Pride festivities when the region's cultural community combines forces for this evening of diversity through art and music. Highlights include:

"Sea the Light" - a special showing of works from Tampa Bay area artists exploring the theme of diversity.

"Salón, Where the couples come to dance!" - The Tampa Bay Symphonic Wind's special concert program will include an eclectic mix of dance music from an array of global composers, including Arturo Márquez's "Danzón No. 2," "A Time to Dance" by Julie Giroux, "Waltz No. 2" by Dmitri Shostakovich, "Highlights from 'La La Land'" arranged by Michael Brown, and more.

HCC Ybor City Performing Arts Building
1411 East 11th Avenue
5 - 9 p.m.

LGBTea Party at the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, March 26
The LGBTQ and arts communities converge for this sunset salon, featuring live body painting by "Skin Wars" star Nicole Hays, photography by Michael Sheehan, MD., and selected works from University of South Florida's LGBTQ collection. Be sure to stick around to catch an exceptional performance by Tampa Bay Pride Band and dancers, led by Alex Jones of Project Alchemy.
Florida Museum of Photographic Arts
400 North Ashley Drive

Tampa Pride, March 30
"Pride events around the world are special. Tampa Pride events are simply overwhelmingly fun," says Tampa Pride's Executive Board president Carrie West. Get a good night's sleep, because West and the Pride committee have planned celebratory events from dawn until dusk. Here's a peek at what you can expect:

Tampa Pride Street Festival - Expected to be the largest festival to date, Tampa Pride once again partners with HCC Ybor Campus for a full-throttle day of activities, including an arts and crafts show, community health fair and entrepreneurs area, and HCC Main Stage (northwest corner of East 8th Street and North 15th Street). The day kicks off at 9:30 a.m. with the Tampa Bay Pride Band and guest speakers.

Two main vendor areas will be located at:
East 9th Avenue and East 8th Avenue/HCC parking lot
HCC parking lot and East 8th Avenue toward Centro Ybor, where attendees will find Hamburger Mary's Entertainment Stage.

Diversity Parade - The fifth annual parade steps off in historic Ybor City (a.k.a. the GaYBOR District), from the corner of Nuccio Parkway and East 7th Avenue. Want to hear a play by play? The parade will be announced from the balcony of Hamburger Mary's.

While Pride celebrations are filled with rainbow revelry, Tampa Bay's commitment to inclusion and diversity is part of the city's DNA.

"The City of Tampa is well known for its diverse history and welcoming communities, beginning with Cuban and Spanish Immigrants settling in Ybor and West Tampa, followed by German and Italian Immigrants settling in West Tampa," says transgender activist and community leader Ashley Brundage, Founder and President, Empowering Differences.

"Today, we are still a widely inclusive city, and the LGBTQ+ community is involved with many events, including the upcoming Tampa Pride which is hosted in Historic Ybor City and meshes together the cultural diversity with our vibrant LGBTQ+ community," says Brundage. "The Tampa Bay Diversity Chamber of Commerce represents all aspects of Tampa's diversity and is proud to host the NGLCC (National LGBT Chamber of Commerce) International Business and Leadership Conference in August 2019."

Stay a While

There are plenty of options for your Tampa Bay getaway. Here are our picks of several TAG-approved properties, a designation that ensures that your stay will be LGBTQ-friendly. Click here for the full list.

Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina - Steps away from Tampa Riverwalk, these rooms with a view offer the opportunity to take in all the Tampa has to offer, along with plenty of opportunities to rest and revitalize at the on-site spa, Jacuzzi or rooftop pool.

The Westin Tampa Waterside - Renovations to the tune of $18 million embody the brand's modern luxury sensibilities. Heavenly beds and soothing earth tones are the perfect respites after a day of Pride festivities.

Epicurean Hotel - This food-focused property is ideal for those that might want to extend their Pride getaway to indulge in exclusive programming and culinary experiences. Dine at Élevage under the well-honed palate of executive chef Chad Johnson or take in the skyline at Edge, the hotel's rooftop bar.

Can't make it to Tampa Bay for Pride? Check out our fun in the sun destination guide, packed with tips on the latest restaurants, cultural events, festivals, and more.

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Matthew Wexler is EDGE's National Senior Editor of Travel, Lifestyle, Health & Branded Content. More of his writing can be found at Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @wexlerwrites.

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