Orlando Pride Parade Defies Adversity: Empowering Message from Youngest Grand Marshal

Orlando Pride Parade: Eleven-year-old Dempsey Jara, the youngest grand marshal in Orlando’s Come Out With Pride parade, delivered a powerful message at Lake Eola Park. Wearing a princess-style gown, Dempsey shared, “Being transgender is not about a choice. It’s about being true to myself. It’s about embracing who I am even when the world tries to tell me otherwise. It’s about standing tall in my identity even when it’s really hard.” Her mother, Jaime Jara, stood proudly beside her, expressing that Dempsey has always known who she is.

Jaime shared, “She’s just always gravitated toward girl things, girls’ toys. We didn’t have any of that stuff at home. She has two older brothers. She’d say, ‘I’m a girl in my heart and my brain.’ She’s been on this journey since she was 5 and she’s living her best life.”

Orlando’s annual pride event, now in its 18th year, featured a vibrant parade of rainbow-adorned floats, showcasing support from businesses, unions, politicians, and churches. The community gathered in unity, expressing their frustration with recent state legislation that they believe infringes on their personal freedoms.

Though crowd estimates were not provided, the downtown park was filled to capacity. Over 200,000 people were expected to participate in the daylong celebration, culminating in fireworks and performances by LaLa Ri and Monet X Change, former winners of RuPaul’s Drag Race reality show.

Orlando Pride Parade

Former state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, the first openly LGBTQ+ Latino legislator in Florida, noted the impressive turnout and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community despite challenges from the Republican-led Legislature. He emphasized the importance of hope and love as the response to adversity.

The governor signed six bills this year, criticized as anti-LGBTQ+, including “The Protection of Children Act” (HB 1438), which allows state authorities to penalize businesses that admit children to adult live performances. While it doesn’t specifically mention drag shows, the law sparked concerns about venues that hosted them, leading to some event cancellations.

However, Come Out with Pride organizers remained determined, while Hamburger Mary’s restaurant successfully obtained an injunction blocking the law’s enforcement. The LGBTQ+ community in Orlando continued to celebrate their pride, standing up for their rights and fostering a message of hope and love in the face of adversity.

Also read: Meryl Streep and Don Gummer’s Quiet Separation After 45 Years of Marriage

Our Reader’s Queries

Does Orlando have a pride parade?

Experience a day filled with love in Central Florida! The annual Come Out With Pride Festival is happening in downtown Orlando at beautiful Lake Eola Park. Join in on the vibrant parade, enjoy live entertainment, explore the pride market place, participate in the sponsor walk, join the national trans visibility march, and marvel at the spectacular fireworks display!

Why is Orlando Pride in October?

Orlando Regional Pride hosted the city’s inaugural pride parade in 1991, which started as a modest gathering. The event was rescheduled to October in 2005, aligning with National Coming Out Day.

How long is Orlando Pride?

Every October, Orlando Pride organizers put together a week of exciting events, ending with an amazing pride parade and a fun after party at Lake Eola.

Where do you park for the Orlando Pride parade?

Several city garages are available on South Street. Or, you can head to Garland Ave. and make a right turn. You’ll find downtown garages to the east of Garland at Washington, Central, and Pine Streets.

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