Turkey Lake Park, 3401 S Hiawassee Rd, Orlando, FL 32835
I’m Nikki Fragala Barnes with the LGBTQ History Museum of Central Florida. In the summer of 2021, I served as an intern while earning my PhD in Texts and Technology as a curator and public historian.
This is the second episode of a series of video pathways into the collections of the Museum.
In Central Florida, the first Pride Picnic took place in June 1983 at Turkey Lake Park. In 2004 it was renamed Bill Frederick Park at Turkey Lake to honor the Orlando mayor. Some sources place the first Pride events in Central Florida during 1979, though verifying that through documentary evidence has been unsuccessful.
In local press, this first event is documented in the 1983 Orlando Sentinel, as reported by Deborah Bustion-H.
Additional Orlando context anchors these origins in 1983 which led to the first Pride Parades in the early 1990s. [source: 2011, https://www.orlandoweekly.com/orlando/in-the-name-of-love-pride/Content?oid=2249365]
THIS ITEM FROM THE COLLECTION in the LGBTQ HISTORY MUSEUM OF CENTRAL FLORIDA is the FLYER with a FULL WEEK of events from June 19th through June 26th 1983.
The flyer is a salmon color with only black text and images — most likely a simple photocopy process directly on colored paper. Clip art icons are present and a mini-collection of fonts is used including all-caps bold, paragraph-style text for event details, and even handwritten accent words proclaiming Games Swimming Music Beer Barbecue Tacos.
The Unity Brunch on Sunday June nineteenth was only $7.50 for an all-you-can-eat buffet on church street to open the weeklong celebration.
June 20 featured a gay skate event at semoran skateway (a mainstay of gay social culture) — the Skateway holds up as a shrine to 1980s style into the 2020s.
There is a mix of events. The pandemic we live inside of in 2021 has universalized the experience of a deadly incurable virus. In the United States, in the 1980s, our gay community lived through this. Two events during this 1983 Pride week were centered on this tragic health crisis that was also a crisis of human fear, misinformation, prejudice, and access.
On the 22nd of June is an AIDS Seminar at OrlandoRegional’s Auditorium (now OrlandoHealth).
And, leading into the weekend a production of Annie on June 23rd, is a fundraiser for AIDS in Winter Park.
Then the big feature Pride Picnic — called Freedom Fest ‘83 Giant Family Picnic — FOOD GAMES FUN — Family is in quotation marks — for this researcher it indicates that this may be an all ages event though maybe more importantly — during a time that many members of the LGBTQ community were ostracized from their families of origin — that here, for this remarkable gathering in a main city park, our queer family would be together to share an afternoon of simple fun — as a family.
These events are centered on fun, community celebrations of public identity. Often they were more akin to Independence Day celebrations and not centered on civil and political advocacy. Though certainly there is a clear case for all experiences of identity as existing among political landscapes. The personal has always been political.
Incorporating the origins of Pride events in Central Florida, points toward the origins of Pride itself.
Marked on the Central Florida timeline on the Museum’s website, the Stonewall Uprising occurred in New York in 1969 and the first pride parade took place in 1970 to honor the one-year anniversary.
In Orlando, in 2021, Pride during June shares the celebrations with remembrances of Pulse, the 2016 nightclub shooting that injured 53, killed 49, and affected countless people.
Come out with pride takes place the weekend of October 7th-9th, now part of LGBTQ History month here in central florida. Sure hope to see you there.
Accompanying this video are additional links for more on the Pride events and LGBTQ History in Central Florida. Thanks for watching.
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Featured artifact: Flyer of June 1983 Pride Events in / around Orlando, Florida from the Saviz Shafaie collection of the LGBTQ History Museum of Central Florida: https://floridalgbtqmuseum.omeka.net/items/show/352
Pathways: Central Florida Gay Pride Events History
Article: “Organizing the Rainbow: Celebrating the History of Come Out with Pride”: http://www.floridalgbtqmuseum.org/organizing-the-rainbow-celebrating-the-history-of-come-out-with-pride.html
More on Pride Today:
“The Complete Guide to Florida Pride.” OutCoast: Gay Florida Travel. https://www.outcoast.com/florida-pride-guide/
More on the process of historiography and the LGBTQ community:
Manes, Billy. “Uncovering Orlando’s Gay History Isn’t Easy, But Someone’s Gotta Do It.” Orlando Weekly. 12 October 2006. https://www.orlandoweekly.com/orlando/uncovering-orlandos-gay-history-isnt-easy-but-someones-gotta-do-it/Content?oid=2274743.
“Preserving Pride” 2005–2020