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The Pandemic Year: St. Pete Pride President Reflects On Year Without Large Celebrations

 Nathan Bruemmer
Nathan Bruemmer

St. Pete Pride president Nathan Bruemmer talks about the last year without the large-scale gatherings that LGBTQ+ events are based on.

Around this time last year, COVID-19 began forcing the nation to shut down. Just about everyone's life was disrupted.

This week, we're featuring everyday Floridians, speaking in their own words about how their lives were affected by the pandemic. Today, we hear from Nathan Bruemmer, the president of St. Pete Pride, which puts on the state’s largest Pride event.

St. Pete Pride is a member organization in the U.S. Association of Prides as well as InterPride, which is an International Association of Prides. And so we have had one-on-one conversations with leaders around the country and around the globe. And we've had monthly zooms, trying to sort out what works and what doesn't.

There have been some interesting different versions of events, which very much depends on the community, how big or how small, what the permitting rules or local laws were, what changes were in place based on executive orders. And that's a lot for small nonprofit to navigate, especially volunteer-driven nonprofits.

So some have chosen to have some events, some not, some — I've seen different levels of success. But all of that is about I think, going back to the mission of our pride organizations: what is this moment when our mere existence has been based on the history of protest and in the fight for equality, and it's about demonstration with a lot of people rooted in what is, large-scale gatherings? You know, being visible and expressing who we are, what are right, and what our fight for our survival is about.

Trying to change that is a challenge, because the structure itself is rooted in history. And so there's been, I think, some really phenomenal conversation around that in this moment that I think creates opportunity for what we what we can do as, as organizations, both here locally and in all over the world.

How has the year impacted the LGBTQ community? I don't know how to answer that. I know how it's impacted me individually. And I guess, I will know, we will all know, over time, what the long-term impacts are. I miss the gatherings, big or small, that support those hugs, seeing the folks that I know are my family, my chosen family, who love me and accept me.

It's not about a political fight. It's not about an explanation of my identity. It just is family. I think for me, I've recognized how much more important that is, even if it's just in passing, and it's that hug at that event and you haven't seen that person for months. I missed that. I don't know collectively, what that means. I would guess, just in conversation within my circles, that when we have that collective community hug again, that will be tremendously healing. I hope. That's the sort of the cheesiest and simplest explanation I can think of about what a pride celebration is about. It's just one big giant community hug.

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Daylina Miller is a multimedia reporter for WUSF and Health News Florida, covering health in the Tampa Bay area and across the state.
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