In early 2020, our team was eagerly planning the Come Out With Pride annual parade & festival. Budgets were set, a brand new theme was chosen, and we were excited to continue our work serving the community.
By mid-March, it became clear this was all in jeopardy. The COVID-19 pandemic raged around the world and our Board convened to discuss options. Would in-person events by October be possible? Would we be able to raise necessary funds? Would our all-volunteer team have the capacity and resources to stay engaged?
Sadly, many events we knew of had to postpone or cancel. It certainly would have been easy for us to halt all 2020 efforts and save our energy for the following year.
We knew this was never an option. Our mission does not end even when we face unprecedented challenges.
The commitment to our community is what drives us, especially at a time when people are facing extreme economic and health-related hardships. So we got to work.
Throughout the year we began a series of virtual events such as Pride In The House, Stay In With Pride and A Seat At The Table where panelists discuss important topics each month. Our Pride In The Streets 17-mile and social distance-friendly vehicle procession traversed through several Orlando neighborhoods. These efforts allowed us to reach new audiences and help raise over $16,000 for the Central Florida LGBTQ+ Relief Fund.
While many of last year’s early plans were put on hold, this year will have several major initiatives.
First and foremost — assuming it’s safe and allowable to do so — we’re anticipating the return to our parade and festival at Lake Eola this October.
In addition, given the incredible growth and progress we’ve had over the years, we’re bringing on an Executive Director to help manage day-to-day operations and provide some relief to our volunteer miracle workers.
Finally we’re focused over the coming months on preparing our bid to host WorldPride in Orlando in 2026.
We’ve set some high goals and aspirations for 2021 and are confident that meeting these objectives will translate into tremendously positive results for the community. If you have been a prior supporter of Come Out With Pride, we’re looking forward to another bright year of partnership. If you are brand new, you can be sure that by working together your contributions will have a significant impact.
At a time when COVID-19 has reduced budgets and charitable funding, we are immensely grateful for any support your organization can provide. Let’s work together and build a better future for our Orlando LGBTQ+ community!