RAISE'EM UP. GSA's banners ready to present at the parade photo credit/ Ariana Rovira
RAISE’EM UP. GSA’s banners ready to present at the parade
photo credit/ Ariana Rovira

Saturday, Nov. 12, Orlando will celebrate the annual Come Out With Pride Festival at Lake Eola Park in Downtown Orlando. The event will include a special tribute to the victims of the Pulse Night Club shooting, special celebrity guests and Taste of Pride, dining experience.

Come Out With Pride, Orlando’s official Pride event, works to overcome discrimination and hate through uniting peacefully annually.

“Last year we celebrated the June Marriage Equality Supreme Court decision and later many questioned if we would still need pride. After the senseless massacre of 49 individuals at a gay night club this June, the answer is unequivocally ‘yes’,” Brian Riha, COWP board president stated in a press release.

The Gay-Straight Alliance Club encourages students to participate and become better educated about LGBTQ+ rights after attending the event.

“To me, Pride means loving yourself. It’s always good to be prideful and not underestimate yourself,” Sophomore Tim McCoy said.

COWP will feature a tribute to Pulse employees including the families of the victims as part of the Community Pride Marshals in the parade. ORMC staff and other first respondents will also be thanked for their bravery and outstanding support.

For the first time at COWP, The Taste of Pride dining experience hopes to draw more attendees to an expected audience of 150,000. The new feature includes a chance to meet widely recognized chefs whom collaborated for the event.

“Renowned chefs, Art Smith, Cat Cora, Elizabeth Falkner plus 15 others collaborated for COWP to create a unique menu that they will be featuring on Saturday exclusively to ticket holders. Guests will sample the meals and mingle with the chefs,” Production team coordinator Jose Luis Dieppa said. Ticket holders will also have prime seating at the event to get the best view of the fireworks show finale.

Every year, Come Out With Pride, Inc. provides scholarships and grants to LGBT organizations and students from the funds raised at the COWP event.

According to the Pride gives back informational site, the “board evaluates the needs of local LGBT organizations and LGBT students, but also that of others who might not be LGBT but do an outstanding job at educating and providing services to our community towards acceptance and equal rights.” They focus on three areas: LGBT+ Health & Wellness, LGBT+ Economic and Development, and LGBT+ Education.

The results of a dedicated team of volunteers include mass outreach through use of social media, such as Twitter, to vocalize news and encourage their audience to participate in the events.

“I’m definitely looking forward to the special tribute and the floats in the parade, ” McCoy said.

The festival aims to appeal to all age groups. With Disney providing family-oriented games and an array of merchandise and food truck vendors available, organizers hope to satisfy participants throughout the event.

Apart from the extravagant parade, live music, and exclusive experiences COWP offers, the festival posted a line up of celebrity appearances.

Special celebrity guests scheduled to appear on both the Pride Stage and Walt Disney Amphitheater Stage include Michelle Clunie (Queer as Folk), Peter Paige (Queer as Folk), cast and producers from The Fosters, Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris (The Good Wife), Matteo Lane (Late Night with Seth Meyers) and Sabrina Jalees (writer: Transparent).

By hosting the day-long festival, COWP hopes to gather the Orlando community in a welcoming environment to broadcast the message of equality.

“Our message is that we are together. We are a community and we would like to unite as a family and show our love for each other,” Dieppa said.

By Ariana Rovira

Boone sophomore who really likes coffee

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