Sarasota celebrates 32nd annual Pride Festival

WWSB ABC7 News at 11pm
Published: Oct. 21, 2023 at 6:57 PM EDT
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SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) -Thousands of people spent their Saturday afternoon dancing, shopping, and celebrating in downtown Sarasota during the 32nd annual Pride Festival.

Project Pride president Jason Champion says this year the celebration was taken up a few notches, doubling the capacity from previous years.

About 2,000 people were expected to attend the festival, which Champion says comes at a crucial time.

“We are under political attacks on a daily basis. This shows that we are a representation of a group that is not going away, and we are here to support everyone,” Champion says.

Event volunteer Toni Boryca is one of the many people who is grateful for this opportunity to come together with other like-minded people.

“Even though there are a lot of laws passing that are directly harming the community, there’s also a lot more support than ever,” Boryca says.

The Human Rights Campaign lists some of the laws recently signed by Governor Ron DeSantis as anti-LGBTQ, including ones that ban lessons on sexual orientation and gender identity from being taught in the classroom between Pre-K and Eighth grade and another that the Florida ACLU says criminalizes doctors for providing gender-affirming care to minors.

But despite these laws, Boryca says she is focusing on the positives.

“I think even at events like this, it’s very nice to see that we aren’t alone and it’s a lot easier nowadays to be open about who you are and I think that’s wonderful.”