The subtropical island of Key West will welcome revelers to its annual Pride celebrations Wednesday through Sunday, June 1-5. The festivities showcase the diversity and equality that help make the continental United States’ southernmost city a top vacation destination for LGBTQ visitors worldwide — and the 2022 slogan is “Don’t say gay, SHOUT it!”
The 2022 parade is to be led by the Key West Police Department’s brand-new Pride police vehicle. (Photo by Dorian Patton)
This year’s jam-packed line-up will include several dozen Pride events. You can celebrate island-style with playful pool parties, mischievous late-night soirees, an inaugural “Just for the Girls” women’s event, a disco dance party, nightly drag shows, theater presentations and a Pride street fair.
And yes, as you probably guessed, a fabulous out-and-proud Pride parade is planned to top off the celebrations. According to event organizers with the Key West Business Guild, the island’s brand-new Pride police car will lead the parade — with Key West Police Chief Sean Brandenburg behind the wheel.
Those arriving early for the festival can attend the Pride Follies Saturday, May 28, at the Key West Theater at 512 Eaton St. Doors open at 7 p.m., followed by an 8 p.m. curtain for the show billed as “a fun evening of the best and worst of local Key West entertainment.”
Daily activity options include museum, nature and culinary tours, as well as aquatic excursions such as snorkeling and sunset sails and eco-tours. One of my favorite ocean-bound adventures is aboard the Blu Q. Their snorkeling excursion includes a stop at a sandbar that’s one of my favorite places to swim, soak up some sun and enjoy a nice cold libation with friends.
Symbols of pride can be seen all around Key West, including the permanent rainbow crosswalks installed at Duval and Petronia streets. (Photo by Rob O’Neal, Florida Keys News Bureau)
Key West Pride and Island House Resort are hosting an all-welcome kick-off gala at the 1129 Fleming St. property (ladies, this is your chance to check out the typically all-male enclave) from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, June 1. The highly anticipated annual poolside event includes free-flowing complimentary Stoli cocktails, champagne and delish hors d’oeuvres.
Subsequent festivities include Thursday’s Drag Pool Party and Brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Winslow’s Bungalows, a Kimpton Key West property at 725 Truman Ave., and Friday’s “Just for the Girls” 3 p.m. cocktail welcome party at Marrero’s Guest Mansion, 410 Fleming St. (BTW, Marrero’s will be an exclusively female property June 3-5 and is offering accommodations and event pass packages).
We will also have some fantastic stage productions, including Fringe Theater’s “A Fabulous Evening with Lillian Baxter,” created and performed by John Vessels and Jay Schwandt. Show tunes, lavish costumes and outrageous tales characterize the production set for 7 p.m. June 1-4 at the Little Room Jazz Club, 821 Duval St. (The club has recently reopened after major renovations, and it looks amazing!)
In addition, the Waterfront Playhouse at Mallory Square will present the June 3-4 “return” of Joan Rivers, portrayed by the hilarious celebrity female impersonator Joe Posa.
The Key West Pride street fair, held on the island’s famed Duval Street, is one of the festival’s most popular events. (Photo by Peter Arnow)
Among Saturday’s many attractions is the Pride Street Fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. along the 600 to 900 blocks of Key West’s famed Duval Street. The “blockbuster” event is the perfect opportunity to break out your best pride-themed outfits and mingle (of course) with scores of other proud revelers. (The Pride police car should be at the street fair too!)
Sunday’s final-day events include the all-welcome Pride Parade. At 5 p.m. Sunday, the island will be bustling with partygoers as our spirited parade proceeds up Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Don’t forget to applaud when you see the wonderful 100-foot section of Key West’s famed 1.25-mile-long sea-to-sea rainbow flag, created in 2003 by the late Gilbert Baker.
Afterward, participants and spectators can gather for our traditional Tea Dance at the renowned La Te Da at 1125 Duval St.
And following the Tea Dance, get ready for an evening of over-the-top “dragertainment” with drag shows at the Aquaplex, 711 Duval St., and 801 Bourbon, 801 Duval St. — as well as a Post Pride Wind-Down Party at Saloon 1 at 504 Petronia St.
Of course, these aren’t the only events on Pride’s roster of revelry. Check out the full schedule here, and prepare to be part of the party!
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