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Key West Hosts Pride Protest For Hillsborough Gays


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Key West Hosts Pride Protest For Hillsborough Gays

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

Posted: August 14, 2005 4:00 pm ET

(Key West, Florida) Gays and lesbians from Hillsborough County drove hundreds of miles to Key West this weekend to do something they can't do at home: celebrate gay pride at an event supported by the local government.

Hillsborough, the county that comprises Tampa, passed an ordinance in June barring the county government from any acknowledgement of gay pride, and a second ordinance making it virtually impossible to repeal the first one. (story)

The dual ordinances were orchestrated by Commissioner Ronda Storms who became outraged over a Gay Pride display at a local library.

Following protests the county commission agreed to reconsider the ban but ended up re-endorsing it. (story)

The ordinance infuriated gays in Key West, hundreds of miles away but the state's biggest and most well known LGBT community.

Local Key West business and government leaders this weekend hosted the Hillsborough Pride in Exile celebration for Tampa-area gays and lesbians.

About 1,000 gays and lesbians from the Tampa area drove to Key West to take part. They held a solidarity march - carrying a 100-foot long gay pride rainbow flag down Duval Street.

"Up in Tampa and St. Pete, people have been calling us expressing their gratitude that a community of strangers has reached out to them in a positive way and supported their cause," said Key West event co-organizer Jim Gilleran.

Organizers also staged a parody of the June 15 Hillsborough commission meeting with actors portraying commissioners ending up in the swimming pool at a gay bar.

"We hope county commissioners realize we're not a threat to anyone (and) that we're a very great group of people," Tampa resident Matt Bachman said. "It's unfortunate we have to travel 400 miles to Key West in order to celebrate diversity."

Key West Mayor Jimmy Weekley stressed his city's 'One Human Family' philosophy.

"Our strength is our diversity and we accept everyone in our community," Weekley said

Hillsborough's pride ban is also hitting it in the pocketbook. Already several conferences and conventions in the county have been cancelled. (story)

©365Gay.com 2005

with files from The Associated Press


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