Come Out With Pride Orlando 2019

Happy Sunday! I’m so excited for today’s post because yesterday was Come Out With Pride Orlando!  My friends and I covered ourselves in rainbows and glitter and y’all – we were cute.

4 women, one in a wheelchair, posing together in front of a rainbow sequin wall.

Pride is one of my very favorite days.

There’s something special about being surrounded by thousands of people who are all there to love and support one another. To celebrate love and acceptance. It sounds so cheesy but it’s more than a party or a parade. There’s magic in the air.

Plus, for me, it’s one of the few days where I get to feel independent. My mom always drops me off downtown with my friends and I get to be on my own with them all day. It might not sound like much to you, but I rarely get time alone with my friends. And when it happens, I fully embrace it. It’s important. The fact that it’s in one of my favorite places? On my favorite day? Yeah, I really really love Pride.

The parade is fun, but honestly, one of my favorite parts of Pride is just wandering around and exploring. I love looking through the different vendors and getting free stickers and flags. I love reading everyone’s signs and taking goofy pictures. Even when you’re not doing anything “exciting” there’s just an energy that hypes you up. 

Me and my friends at pride. 3 women, all wearing various rainbow accessories/outfits smiling in a selfie.
Karly (me) at Pride! Young woman in wheelchair, wearing a rainbow flower headband, rainbow glitter and makeup, and an iridescent jacket with pastel rainbow stripes, smiling for the camera.
One of the floats at pride. People are both on and off the float with various rainbow balloons and accessories.
People marching in/watching the pride parade. Lots of rainbow outfits, rainbow mickey signs, and a woman on stilts.

Because I’m me – you know I gotta take a minute to talk about accessibility.

I almost typed an apology, but nah. It’s important! You know the first thing I saw when I got there yesterday? Barricades blocking the curb cuts. Not a great start. Halfway through the parade, which is arguably the main event, I gave up and wandered around some more with my friends instead. Too many people stood in front of us and we couldn’t see. Even though when we got our spot, at the very edge of the sidewalk right against the street and should’ve had an unobstructed view. Even though people were repeatedly asked to not stand in front of us.

I didn’t wander around taking notes for a serious analysis or anything. I was just there to have fun. But I noticed it all day. Little things here and there. Photo ops and booths in places that aren’t accessible for wheelchairs, lack of designated viewing areas for disabled attendees. I didn’t watch any of the performances, so I don’t know if interpreters were available for all of them. I have a feeling that the answer is probably disappointing. And look, I’m not here to be a bummer or bitch about what was an otherwise amazing day.

But Pride, of all events, should be inclusive for everyone. And that means making the entire festival accessible. 

I had a great time but if I had been alone it would’ve sucked. I’m lucky. Not every disabled person has friends who can/will go with them and make sure they can get through an inaccessible space. Everyone needs to be aware that disabled people are often forgotten in event planning. Which leaves disabled people forced to decide whether they want to struggle in an unsafe environment or skip going altogether. And that’s not fair. 

That being said, and I’m only speaking for myself here, the accessibility issues I ran into were pretty minor. It didn’t ruin the day for me or prevent me from attending. I’ve experienced much worse at not just festivals, but farmer’s markets, shops, and doctor’s offices. Not saying that makes it okay or excusable, but it is what it is. At least at pride, the VAST majority of people are willing to step in and help when they can. 

Regardless of all the frustrating moments, I’m so happy I was able to go again this year. Dancing and singing and laughing in the park. Photoshoots in the street, screaming compliments at each other. Waving flags and petting dogs. It makes my heart so happy and every time it’s a highlight of the year.

This makes my third pride, and I can’t wait for my fourth. Love is love is love.

Karly (me) at Pride! Young woman in wheelchair, wearing a rainbow flower headband, rainbow glitter and makeup, and an iridescent jacket with pastel rainbow stripes, smiling for the camera.

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