Tampa Bay Businesses Cope with Losses from Pride Cancellations

Tampa Bay businesses trying to recover from COVID-19 restrictions are facing another blow with pride cancellations throughout the region.

In late May, organizers of St Pete Pride and Tampa Pride cancelled parade and pride celebrations slated for June. The health of attendees and safety of participants were the main reasons.

A somber flag raising occurred at St Petersburg city hall on Monday, June 1, 2020, to kick off the month that traditionally celebrates the Stonewall riots of 1969. 

St Pete Pride drew more than 150,000 participants last year, making it the largest LGBTQ celebration in Florida. Tampa Pride had 60,000 attendees.

“We knew this year would be another major influx because we were bringing in three major concerts,” said Carrie West, president of Tampa Pride.

Pride events in 2019 created $44.2 million in direct spending in the Tampa Bay Area. The Tampa Bay Pride Band relies on Pride parades for nearly a third of its income and was looking forward to their fifth performance. 

Diane O’Dell, who co-owns Gayest Store on Earth, has parked her mobile store in Largo. She has no events to sell at. She sells more than 24 types of flags so everyone can celebrate with representation.  

Many area high schools also rely on funds from event sponsors they receive for performing in Pride events.

Advocates recommend donating to organizations or ordering merchandise online from LGBTQ or allied companies. Many of those businesses are listed here on St. Pete Pride’s online directory.

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