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A bittersweet experience celebrating pride in Florida

I'm pouringfor two days in a row, but I'm heading to Winwood for pride. Lyft drivers constantly complain while navigating traffic on gridlocked highways. He says he doesn't like living in Florida and both he and his wife want to move, but if so, they can't be in the same room without fighting, so they want to be 1,500 miles away. I think.

"I will live in Wyoming and be a cowboy," he announced, and Camry was about to hit us to see us. "She can go to California for everything I care about."

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I take my girlfriend's hand Whenever I want to remember to joking about something alone later Squeeze twice like. When doing this, keep your hands pressed against the seat. Seeing us holding our hands, we don't know how the driver will react. Being a queer in Floridameans carefully navigating strangers and places so that you can anticipate danger and avoid harmful interactions. But this time it's okay. The driver is yelling at the other car and is unaware of what we have touched.

Attendees pose at their first Wynwood Pride

A couple takes pictures at the Moki Baby Art Installation at the festival venue.

Alfonso Duran for TIME

By the time we arrived at the venue, it was as if the rain had stopped. After the storm, before showing off the rainbow, I simply waited for all the strange people to arrive. The ground was muddy and my girlfriend was wearing the wrong shoes. Sandals slip as you roam through a crowd of people. I laugh when she slips into the mud, she laughs, clenching my arms and supporting me. You don't have to worry about touching each other here. No one frowns or says unpleasant things, even if I put her hands on her hips or hang her arms on her back and play with her hair. there is no. We kiss while waiting for a drink, an overpriced drink called Sugar Daddy, which contains a fair amount of vodka and Red Bull. We stand under the tree, grab it from the tree and get the orientation. When the wind suddenly runs through the branches, water drips from the leaves and hangs down on the head. There should be a drag show, but when the music of the first performer comes in, she sends out someone who isn't ready yet. For another 5 minutes, they will announce. Thunder rang in the distance, warning of future storms.

It's perfect pride, despite all its flaws.

There is a magicalin being in a place with so many strange people. Perhaps for me this comes from the fact that I'm estranged from my family. I seek help from my community and feel seen and understood. It's the balms that stand together in unpredictable Florida weather and stare at the big screen as music plays through the giant speakers on the main stage. The show starts and everyone cheers. The queen flips and then strips off her cloak, showing her a Wonder Woman costume with gold cuffs. I look at my girlfriend and get tipsy from my drink and announce that I love gay people. Even if we don't know each other and talk all night, the person next to me agrees loudly. You don't need to know each other to get a feel for it. The moment is electrical and swings from person to person. It's a collective joy.

Tory Stiletto When you step into the venue, you will be greeted by guests.

Alfonso Duran for TIME

A young woman grabs the clipboard stack and approaches us. She is there atEqualityFloridaand asks attendeesif she signs a petition to fight the "Don't Say Gay" billshe is serious and sweet is. She tells us that they really want to get enough signatures to make a difference. The form has a section where you can see if you can volunteer to help with other LGBTQ + Florida issues. I was grateful to say that I was grateful to see that many had already signed and most said they wanted to volunteer. The queer community is much larger than the individual. It's selfless love.

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In addition to the woman with the petition, there are many other volunteers who have registered voters. It's dark and damp, and there are puddles everywhere, but these volunteers have a smile on their faces that illuminate the venue. Someone came to my girlfriend and said she was beautiful, then came back five minutes later and shouted to the crowd again.

"You are really gorgeous," they say. "I just want everyone to know."

My girlfriend and I kiss again. People hug, share drinks and take pictures. Friends greet each other from the other side of the wide lawn, and their arms are waving high in the sky. I often tear in my eyes. I'm happy, but I'm also homesick in Central Florida and the communities I've built there. Pride in downtown Orlando, a parade full of sweaty queers in shorts and tank tops, everyone trying to combat the heat, clasping rainbow flags and making friends while people are waiting in the bathroom A long line of swan boats on Lake Eora sitting neatly in the sparkle of the lake.

Attendees at Wynwood Pride watching the performers

A fascinating station for festivals.

Alfonso Duran for TIME

There are countless ways to celebrate your pride, Sometimes it's difficult because your state and its representatives don't want to celebrate with you. We live in Florida. Florida is the same place that passed the"Don't Say Gay" bill. This place wants to make it easier for the school district to ban books on LGBTQ + themes. It does not provide nearly sufficient protection for transgender children. At that moment, I want to dance with my girlfriend and feel the joy in a crowd full of queer. Then, sit on your chest like a shining ember and feel that happiness. It feels good to be filled, embraced, and embraced by something other than bitterness and fear. Feeling loved. But I also want to create space for things that scare me and worry about me all year round. The pride started as a riot. It was a battle from the beginning. I want to remember the pain and joy. A few days later, when I'm sitting alone at my computer at home, I think about it. Watching a live stream of homage to the victims of pulse shooting

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As a queer who grew up in Orlando, I'm having a hard time talking about what happened at Pulse. I know I'm not alone in this. Six years later, the collective grief is still as strong. I live in Miami for now, but when I see Orlando's poet laureate Sean Welcome reading in honor of those who have been taken away from us, I feel like I'm at the monument. To do. People tap computer screens across the country. An electronic heart floating on the side of the monitor is floating in the ether. This is a way for all of us to touch, even if we can't be together. Our queens connect us, even if everything feels very far away. We are still supporting each other.

I think this is pride. It's a joy, but it's also a memorable wound. Is painful. It is a monument that celebrates sweetness along with bitterness and is a reminder.

Participants See Mami Problem vs. Ramona Slick Drug Show.

Alfonso Duran for TIME

June is about to end. The online avatar will return to the state before the rainbow.Companies will take their pride goods out of the store and wait for next year's event, keeping the hope of an alliance lasting more than 30 days of the year. As I absorb news reports such as daily news, queer book bans in libraries and schools, and legislation that deprives people of their reproductive rights, I want to devote myself to the hope of what I can actually do. .. Check "Yes, I want to help" in the volunteer form. Hold my girlfriend's hand where everyone can see it. Don't be afraid to be visibly strange, even if that means risking retaliation from those who may want to harm me.

I think people are dancing in the rain. Hand in hand. We laugh and kiss each other.

I'm thinking of people on pulse alert. Hold hands there too.

Pride is a hug. Pride is an action, a verb.

The pride is a memorial. Celebration. Calculation. Oath.

That's what I want from my community. Proud all year round.

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