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New group celebrates Pride Month with socially distanced events in Sarasota

Project Pride SRQ will host a downtown Sarasota car parade, virtual events and Taste of Pride with participating local restaurants.

Pride Month will look very different this June, as celebrations that can draw crowds of thousands such as St. Pete Pride have been put on hold due to COVID-19. Yet a new Sarasota LGBTQ organization still plans to commemorate Pride with numerous socially distanced events.

Project Pride SRQ, which launched earlier this year, will host a Pride car parade in downtown Sarasota, virtual shows and a Taste of Pride collaboration featuring area restaurants, with events starting this week.

The organization’s co-founder and executive director is Joshua Beadle, who also operates, which promotes and sponsors local LGBTQ events like monthly G2H2 Gay Group Happy Hours. Beadle had planned a week of Pride events, headlined by a Siesta Beach party, when the pandemic struck the U.S.

“We had spent a lot of time on really cultivating these amazing events that were going to be social like a beach party, a singalong, a very fancy dinner, a nightclub event,” Beadle said. “But then, of course, COVID hit, and so we had to kind of pivot.”

The new roster of Pride events kicks off Thursday with a “Bedroom Sessions” livestream concert by Tarra Conner Jones, where she’ll perform soul music, showtunes and vocal ballads. Though based in New York City, she has frequently performed in Sarasota with Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.

Friday marks the fourth anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, which killed 49 people including Sarasota’s Edward Sotomayor, with a #SupportSarasota episode featuring onePULSE Foundation founder Barbara Poma and a musical tribute by Diversity: The Voices of Sarasota. #SupportSarasota is a series where Beadle interviews prominent area personalities such as Sarasota Mayor Jen Ahearn-Koch.

The Pride car parade takes place Saturday, starting by the Sarasota County Jail before heading west on Main Street and dispersing at Bayfront Drive and Main. Cars are encouraged to decorate with rainbows, banners and more, with fellow area LGBTQ organizations such as ALSO Youth, Harvey Milk Festival and Sarasota Pride among those participating.

Due to the pandemic, the parade will not allow congregating spectators, but it will be livestreamed. Those who want to see the parade in person are encouraged to make outdoor reservations at a Main Street restaurant.

Taste of Pride will take place Monday through June 30, where customers mention the event at participating restaurants and businesses to receive special deals or rainbow items. Those participating include Sage, Tsunami Sushi, Leaf & Lentil, Reyna’s Taqueria, Mellow Mushroom, Mitch’s Kitchen and Petals & Sugar, with the full list to be released Saturday.

Beadle hopes Project Pride can hold celebrations for future holidays like Halloween or New Year’s Eve, though that will depend on what the pandemic looks like by then. His goal is to extend the celebratory feeling of Pride Month throughout the year and promote Sarasota as a LGBTQ area.

“We don’t want to have that instance where you have an amazing June and you celebrate, celebrate, celebrate, and then you feel super-depressed in July, because July comes and you’re like, ‘Aw, I wish everyday could be Pride,’” Beadle said. “There’s been so many times that I’ve said that after leaving a Pride festival in St. Pete or Tampa. So we want to just continue the celebration all year long.”

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