by staff writer, Monica C.
Watermark reported a story today stating: "Sarasota Pride, Inc. announced Aug. 15 that its next PrideFest will be held Jan. 25, 2020, rather than in 2019." Abandoning 2019 is missing out on a significant milestone in LGBT history as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots and 2019 is Sarasota Pride's 30th anniversary.
Cindy Barnes has led the organization into its 29th year last year at J.D. Hamel Park and attributes the reason for moving pride this year is because of Oktoberfest. “The park [J.D. Hamel] is hosting Oktoberfest Oct. 18-20 and the city only allows so many events per date within the city limits.” Cindy stated.
“Sarasota Pride moves into the Winter WONDERLAND!” Cindy muses. “We are hoping for cooler weather."
Cindy added that while Oct. 12 WAS available, which could have allowed for a festival in 2019, it conflicted with two other Pride celebrations in Florida. “Pulling from the same resources just makes a successful event almost impossible,” she said.
Joshua Beadle, the owner of SarasotaOUT.com, isn't pleased with Sarasota Pride, Inc's decision to cancel 2019 pride and is now encountering complications. "I have been hard at work on scheduling events for a week-long celebration called Sarasota Pride Week that would have concluded with Sarasota Pride, Inc's festival. Sarasota Pride Week was launched last year by SarasotaOUT.com with no affiliation to Sarasota Pride, Inc. "I created Sarasota Pride Week to address the concerns from the community that Sarasota Pride, Inc. was not being inclusive or allowing the community to be involved. I had many conversations with people who were suggesting to start a new pride. My answer to that was to simply add-on to what Sarasota Pride, Inc has already created so that everyone could be included in some way."
2019 was going to be the second year of SarasotaOUT.com's Sarasota Pride Week. "Anyone that plans events like this knows it takes months of preparation and as of this May - I was under the impression that pride was still happening in October," Joshua stated. "Sarasota Pride, Inc's Facebook and website were not helpful. They were both still promoting 2018's Pride. I needed to speak with someone from Sarasota Pride Inc. directly to confirm the 2019 dates so I could start planning and promoting Sarasota Pride Week including a new event that I was really excited about. I was working on chartering the LeBarge for a Sunset Pride Cruise."
"After contacting Sarasota Pride, Inc. a couple times throughout the year with no reply, I did get an answer from Cindy. She replied very simply to my question about pride being held in October, stating it would be "safe" for me to go ahead and book my events around October dates. And this was in May. " Joshua explained.
"Now, with this turn of events, I'm trying to reschedule events. I've reached out to the LeBarge about rescheduling the cruise and am nervously awaiting their reply." Joshua said. "Why didn't Sarasota Pride, Inc. consider a new location outside the city limits? Why didn't they reach out to the community for help? Why didn't they reserve J.D. Hamel Park a year in advance?" Joshua questioned.
"I do believe Sarasota deserves the BEST! We deserve a pride celebration that rivals Tampa and why not aim for a pride that rivals St. Petersburg! That was my goal with Sarasota Pride Week. It was not intended to change what Cindy and her team are doing, only to enhance it. I do wish Cindy and the Sarasota Pride, Inc. team the best of luck in 2020 and SarasotaOUT.com will do whatever we can to enhance and promote the festival." Joshua said positively.
It appears that some of the community expects more from Sarasota Pride as well. Joshua posted on facebook a week ago asking if anyone has heard anything official about pride, being that it is only 3 months away.
The post received numerous comments with similar complaints of having tried to contact Sarasota Pride, Inc. with no reply.
Berry Ayers aka Beneva Fruitville, who has voiced her opinion numerous times on Sarasota Pride, Inc. commented: " ...The board is made up of a group of friends who is tyrannically run by one person. Cindy’s way or the highway. I have tried to join the board two years ago, was never informed of meetings and was lied to. Their lack of transparency and complete disregard for the community they’re attempting to represent can no longer be tolerated."
In 2017, Beneva Fruitville led a boycott againsts Sarasota Pride, Inc. when the organization didn't want to allow drag performers to participate in the festival.
The boycott began when a local queen reached out to a board member offering to perform at the festival for free and received a response stating there will be music all day and no queens and that's the way they want it.
After a social media outrage, the board released a joint statement that Sarasota Pride, Inc. would be more inclusive, diverse and welcoming to those who felt removed from the Pride Fest schedule. The following year, Beneva was replaced without notice as hostess of Sarasota Pride Inc's pride festival.
Beneva has led the discussion within the community about having a new pride. One she says would be "more inclusive." Joshua doesn't think that is the best answer. "I believe we just need to find a way to work together and create something really BIG. Perhaps we need to have a community forum?" Joshua commented.
Do you think there is a problem with our current pride? Do you think a new pride is a good idea or a bad idea? How do you feel about skipping 2019? Are you excited for 2020? Sound off in the comment section below.
UPDATE: 08/16/19 | Are you interested in joining the Sarasota Pride board? A primary responsibility of board directors is to participate in the development of fundraising events and decision-making regarding Sarasota Pride. Here's a link to submit a questionnaire. The website also states if you have any questions to contact Cindy Barnes directly at 941-320-9268 or message their facebook page.
UPDATE: 08/16/19 | Sarasota Pride, Inc has set up a GoFundMe page today, asking for donations to help with costs of the 2020 pride event.
UPDATE: 08/17/19 | The GoFundMe page was removed.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of SarasotaOUT.com