Sunday, Oct. 10 was a bright, sunny day at Lake Eola with 70,000 people gathered all the way around the lake, but not merely to enjoy the sunshine. The day marked the sixth annual Come Out with Pride parade around Lake Eola.
According to police estimates, around 70,000 people came to watch the parade–a record-breaking number. Rollins also broke a record, with 61 people from the college marching in the parade, up from 33 last year. Spectrum (Rollins’ gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, ally group) has been marching in the pride parade for the past three years, but this year had the biggest turnout. Rollins students, staff , faculty and even alumni carpooled over to Lake Eola, armed with lime-green t-shirts that boldly stated, “Pride, We Got It,” rainbow face paint, pins that declared “Love is Love,” feather boas, beads and even dogs dressed up in their rainbow fi nest. Rollins Spectrum and its supporters made one of the biggest, largest and loudest groups at the parade, larger even than Stetson and UCF, and rivaling the groups from Universal Studios and Disney. The excitement among the students, faculty and staff was contagious, and everyone was smiling and shouting through out the parade. Rollins alumni watching the parade in the audience cheered specifically for Rollins, pleased to see such a loud and proud group marching. One unnamed alumnus in the crowd declared, “A few years ago, this never would have happened! Congratulations, Rollins!”
Other participants in the parade included the infamous Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Equality Florida, Macy’s, Hope and Help, candidates for Governor of Florida and the Florida Senate, and fl oats from gay clubs like Pulse, Revolutions, Parliament House, and the soon-to-be opened Mr. Sisters. The main speaker for the event was Olympic Gold Medalist Greg Louganis. He spoke of the recent suicides of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) students due to bullying and shared a story of how a gay high school student turned away from suicide after meeting him at a book signing. Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer and Craig Lowe, the openly gay mayor of Gainesville spoke as well.
There were performances and celebrations into the night. The pride and excitement of not only Spectrum, but also the entire 70,000-strong audience, was breathtaking. For Rollins to create a presence in such a large crowd was exhilarating; people all along the parade route were pointing in amazement at the lime-green army of Rollins Spectrum, cheering and clapping for the small school with a big heart. Kelci Reyes-Brannon ‘13, vice president of Spectrum, stated, “I am so proud that Rollins stood up to support Spectrum with pride and dignity, especially in light of all the recent media about suicides and harassment of LGBT students. The support for Spectrum really heartens me and lets me know that at Rollins, we come out with pride!”
For more information, contact Reyes-Brannon at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit Spectrum’s website at http://www.rollins.edu/multiculturalaffairs/orgs/spectrum.html.