The Florida Keys & Key West tourism council and the Key West Business Guild are planning to showcase the inclusive spirit of our subtropical LGBTQ visitor destination in New York City’s WorldPride March and PrideFest street festival held on Sunday, June 30.

Key West 1.25-mile-long rainbow flag

Gilbert Baker’s 1.25-mile-long rainbow flag was displayed all along Key West’s Duval Street in 2003 in a sea-to-sea showing of Pride. (Photo by Andy Newman, Florida Keys News Bureau)

New York City’s 2019 Pride is taking place in combination with the first WorldPride celebration ever held in the United States, and nearly 4 million revelers are expected to attend (that’s almost half of New York City’s entire population — oh my!). The 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising is also being commemorated in a blended event called WorldPride NYC/Stonewall 50, with 50-plus events scheduled throughout the entire month of June (just a three-day visit for me, though … sigh).

“It is important to be present at this historic moment in our history to remind everyone that our islands serve as a place free from judgment for LGBTQ visitors and residents alike,” said Guy Ross, the tourism council’s LGBTQ sales manager. “By participating in WorldPride 2019, we can show the LGBTQ community around the world why we remain such a special, much-loved and much-celebrated destination.”

The Pride March will include our very own southernmost city contingent carrying a 100-foot section of the 1.25-mile “sea-to-sea” pride flag that was constructed by the late rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker. Gilbert, whose friends called him “the gay Betsy Ross,” spent three months in Key West in 2003 sewing approximately 17,600 linear yards of fabric into the rainbow banner — which weighed (get this) more than three tons!

The ginormous flag was displayed along Key West’s Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean on June 15, 2003, with the unfurling marking the 25th anniversary of Gilbert’s iconic creation.

The incredible group assembled to carry the flag in the WorldPride March will include current and former Keys residents, with their friends and families from across the U.S.

Key West Pride Flag

A 100-foot section of Key West’s iconic “sea-to-sea” rainbow flag (shown here on Duval Street) will be carried in  the WorldPride March.

We’re still looking for volunteers, so please contact the guild if you can join our fabulous ensemble of marchers. Team Key Lime Pie would love to have you along when we meet the Big Apple! Please note, if you’re not a big fan of walking, no worries, because we’ll have a support vehicle following us throughout the march.

“We look forward to showing that Key West is one of the leading destinations for LBGTQ communities to visit by displaying one of the most iconic pieces of history to be created for the LGBTQ community,” said Alan Beaubien, president of the guild’s board of directors.

The PrideFest street festival is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday along Fourth Avenue from Union Square to Astor Place. The Florida Keys & Key West booth will have lots of cool Keys giveaways and information on vacationing in the environmentally and culturally rich island chain that I call home.

Everyone is invited to stop by for a warm Keys welcome and insights into our islands’ newest elements, attractions, and offerings. I will be manning the Keys media booth (and also bearing gifts …), so please come say hello. I’ll be the short Italian-looking guy, most likely wearing a blue (my favorite color, BTW) shirt. You can’t miss me — oh wait, I take that back. I forgot 4 million people are expected to attend!

Click here to subscribe to the Florida Keys & Key West’s LGBTQ travel blog.