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Celebrate Pride in Key West!

by Robert Adams
Key West Rainbow Flag Pride

Presented by the Key West Business Guild, Pride salutes the Florida Keys’ all-accepting “One Human Family” mind-set on the subtropical island internationally known as a top LGBTQ vacation spot.

1 1/4-Mile-Long Rainbow Flag on Duval Street in Key West, June, 2003 (Photo by Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/H0)

Key West Pride to Mark Sea-to-Sea Rainbow Flag’s 20th ‘Birthday’ June 7-11, 2023

Visitors can celebrate diversity and mark the 20th “birthday” of Key West’s famed 1.25-mile sea-to-sea rainbow flag with a three-night laser light show during Key West Pride 2023, scheduled Wednesday through Sunday, June 7-11. Presented by the Key West Business Guild, Pride salutes the Florida Keys’ all-accepting “One Human Family” mind-set on the subtropical island internationally known as a top LGBTQ vacation spot.

Attractions include daytime pool parties and late-night dance parties, sunset sailing excursions, theater performances, a Pride street fair, a high-energy parade and other events commemorating the creation and display of the sea-to-sea flag that became known around the world.

Gilbert Baker in Key West, June 2003 (Photo: Rob O’Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

In 2003 Gilbert Baker, creator of the original rainbow flag that remains the international symbol of the LGBTQ community, worked with a volunteer team to construct a 1.25-mile-long rainbow flag in Key West that is believed to be the world’s longest. During that year’s Pride, thousands of volunteers unfurled it along the entire length of the island’s Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean in a sea-to-sea showing of openness and pride.

This year’s opening activities on Wednesday, June 7 include a luncheon with presentations on the creation of Baker’s Key West flag and an evening kick-off party featuring the display of a 100-foot section of the famed banner. The latter event is set for 5:30 P.M. at Hard Rock Café, 313 Duval St.

Pride 2023’s undisputed highlight is to be a three-night laser light show that re-creates the flag above Key West’s Duval Street, with its colors once again stretching the nearly 1.25-mile length of the renowned thoroughfare. From 8 to 10 P.M. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, visitors can walk “under the rainbow” to express their support for diversity, equality and acceptance.

Other events include a local bartender competition at the Bourbon St. Pub, 724 Duval Street; an outdoor screening of the acclaimed documentary “Key West: City of Colors” in the 800 block of Duval Street; an all-day street fair on Saturday followed by a disco party and dancing on Duval; the Big Gay 5k challenge for fitness buffs, and a traditional tea dance at La Te Da, 1125 Duval St.

Key West Pride Parade (Photo: Key West Pride)

Plans call for a 100-foot section of Baker’s 2003 flag to take center stage in the 2023 Pride Parade through Key West’s historic downtown, beginning at 5 P.M. Sunday, June 11. Spectators can view the all-welcome procession, which will also feature colorful walking groups and lavishly decorated floats, streetside or from clubs, bars and restaurants along the route.

Pride’s closing ceremony is to take place following the parade at the corner of Duval and Petronia streets, site of Key West’s permanent four-way rainbow crosswalk, capped by the final night of the sea-to-sea laser light show.

Event information and complete schedule are available at Gay Key West.

To help plan your visit to Key West check out these websites: fla-keys.com/keywest and gaykeywestfl.com

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