Key West welcomes visitors to its annual island-wide Pride festivities

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Renowned for its “One Human Family” philosophy of unity and equality, Key West is to welcome visitors to its annual Pride festivities Wednesday through Sunday, June 5-9.

Presented by the Key West Business Guild, the event celebrates diversity on the island whose milestones in LGBTQ history include the unfurling of rainbow flag creator Gilbert Baker’s 1.25-mile-long rainbow banner from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.

“We’re making Pride island-wide and all-inclusive by staging plays, movies, wine tastings, all-welcome pool parties and special concerts including one by singer-songwriter Steve Grand,” said Dan Skahen, executive director of the guild that has served LGBTQ visitors for four decades.

Revelers arriving early for the festival can attend the Pride Follies Saturday, June 1, at the Key West Theater, located 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.”

The Pride schedule includes the finale of a North American cocktail contest, an intriguing trolley tour of Key West’s gay heritage and hotspots, pool parties, film screenings, a lively street fair and pageants to select Miss and Ms. Key West Pride.

Key West Pride and the annual Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic are to host a joint kick-off gala at 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 5. The Classic brings winning mixologists from LGBTQ bars in 14 North American cities to Key West, all vying to create a cocktail that best personifies the island’s ingenuity and diverse culture.

Pride’s highlight concert stars Steve Grand, an openly gay artist whose second album, “not the end of me,” reached the number 2 slot on the iTunes pop chart and the top 10 on Billboard Magazine’s independent album chart. The show is set for 8 p.m. Friday, June 7, at the Key West Theater. The opening act is Key West’s Miss Stachaa, performing with a talented team of musicians. Doors open at 7 p.m.

Saturday brings the Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic’s final round. Stoli LGBTQ ambassador Patrik Gallineaux and “Real Housewives of Dallas” star LeeAnne Locken are to host the event, set for 6:30 p.m. on an outdoor stage in the 700 block of Duval Street.

Celebrity performers and contest judges are to include acclaimed comedy writer and actor Bruce Vilanch, recording artist Debby Holiday, former “American Idol” finalist LaToya London and Key West female impersonator Sushi.

Pride’s final day, Sunday, June 9, is underscored by the all-welcome 2019 Pride Parade showcasing a 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.

The parade is slated for 5 p.m., proceeding up Duval Street from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. Afterward, parade participants and spectators can enjoy the time-honored Key West Tea Dance at La Te Da at 1125 Duval St.

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