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Polk Pride Hosting Weeklong Celebration

Polk Pride Hosting Weeklong Celebration Starting Sat. June 8

by James Coulter


June is finally upon us. It’s a good month to be gay—”happy”, that is! Also, LGBTQ! Since this month is LGBTQ Pride Month.


Whether you’re gay or lesbian, bi or pan, trans or non-binary, Polk Pride is hosting its annual weeklong celebration for you to celebrate who you are and what makes you special.


The celebration starts on Sat. June 8 with a kick-off brunch at 11 AM at Union Hall in Lakeland. Other events this week include Pride for Youth on Wed. June 12 at the United Woman’s Club, Pride in Faith on Thurs. June 13 at Beacon Hill Fellowship, and Friday Night Pride on Fri. June 14 at The Parrot.


The entire weeklong celebration culminates on Sat. June 15 with Pride in the Park, hosted at Munn Park in Lakeland from 11 AM – 3 PM. This annual pride event is one of the biggest in Central Florida, drawing in thousands of attendees each year.


For the past nine years, Polk Pride has organized this annual pride celebration along with two other local LGBT organizations, including the Lakeland Youth Alliance, an activities and support group for ages 11-17, and PFLAG of Polk County, a group for parents, family, friends, and allies to get support regarding LGBTQ+ questions and needs.


Scott Guira, President of Polk Pride, has been on the board since 2008. He founded Polk Pride in 2015, led by the ambition to help cultivate a safe and promising community for LGBTQ+ youth in Polk County and across Central Florida. He has served as the President of the Pride board every year since. 


Guira also serves on the boards of Lakeland Youth Alliance and Orlando Youth Alliance. His favorite part of pride is seeing the park filled with people from all walks of life celebrating love and acceptance.


“This was an effort to change the face of the community,” Guira said. “To show everyone in the community that this is a place that everyone of every background and every orientation and every person is welcome and accepted here in Polk County.”


Guira lives in Historic Downtown Lakeland with his husband, John. Together, they enjoy cycling, the outdoors, and attending concerts and performing arts events. Through this pride event, he hopes to prove to other people that he and his husband are normal members of the community just like everyone else.


Since its inception nine years ago, the event has grown exponentially, from the number of attendees and vendors to the number of proclamations made in cities across Polk County. This year’s event is expected to be even bigger and better, Guira said. He owes its success to the growing acceptance of diverse backgrounds and identities within the county over the years.


“I think it has been successful because people know that Polk County is a welcoming place and they want to be part of that change,” he said. “They want to be part of making sure this is a welcoming environment for everyone, people look at us from the outside and even make assumptions about our past, being a more rural area. [But] this is an inclusive place to live and an inclusive place for everyone, and people want to come out and they want to celebrate that.”


Scott Guira recently joined us on the Chattin on the Ridge podcast to discuss this year’s Polk Pride Week. Listen to the full podcast episode on Acast: https://shows.acast.com/chattin-on-the-ridge/episodes/ep-37-polk-pride-week-wscott-guira

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