SWFL Pride holds largest event yet
By Brooke Stiles
Assistant News & Features Editor
Pride-SWFL hosted its 11th annual event to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community and its allies on Saturday at the Alliance for the Arts.
With over 130 vendors, 50 volunteers, a list of entertainers and performers, and an estimate of over 7,000 people in attendance, Pride-SWFL reported having its biggest and best event yet.
This year’s theme was “Proud to be” in efforts to encourage the SWFL community to live openly and be proud of who they are.
One of the vendors in attendance represented Visuality Florida, a nonprofit organization in Fort Myers specializing in providing youth support groups and services to the LGBTQ+ community.
Christian Nunez, who is on the Board of Directors for Visuality, represented Visuality and the LGBTQ+ community at Saturday’s event.
“I am proud to be an FGCU alumnus, I am proud to be an openly gay, queer man, I am proud to be a drag queen, and I am proud to live as authentic as I can,” Nunez said.
Visuality Florida has the vision to enhance the well-being of LGBTQ+ communities and to end discrimination and violence towards them.
“We are gearing towards students who are committed to social change in any way,” Nunez said. “We are all about social change.”
Saturday’s SWFL Pride festival included live music, vendors, food, and tons of special drag queen performances. On Sunday, Society Restaurant & Lounge hosted a Pride brunch and tea dance.
Pepper Mashay, an International Dance Diva, and Farrah Moan, who appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race headlined this year’s SWFL Pride. There was also music by Grammy-nominated DJ Chris Cox and a contestant on NBC’s The Voice, Sheena Brooke.
SWFL Pride started in 2009, with only a few hundred people in attendance. With 6,000 people attending in 2018 and about 1,000 more this year, Pride-SWFL is excited to continue to grow for next year’s event.