Panhandle Celebrates Pride Week

BAY COUNTY, Fla. - Pride of the Panhandle, also known as "POP", teamed up with local organization PFLAG on Sunday, to celebrate the end of pride week with a fun family event outside the Pier Park Walmart.There was face painting, live music, a raffle and even food.

Throughout the week there were hospitality events at Chipotle and Bruster's Ice Cream. The celebration kicked off with the annual Mr. and Miss Pride of the Panhandle Pageant on Monday. The week-long celebration occurs the last week of June every year and is focused on educating the community on the needs, issues and various aspects of LGBT culture. 

 "Someone who lives their life in the closet in fear, they're not living their authentic self and anytime that happens, that is just a road to disaster. Once you do come out and you own who you are, it's just like a hundred thousand pound weight has been lifted off your shoulders" said POP Board Member, William Shurbutt. 

June is dedicated as pride month and during this month last year, celebration was difficult. The pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last June shocked the nation, and greatly impacted the LGBT community. 

"This place had been a safe place for a long time for the LGBTQ people to gather and to be themselves and that was assaulted" said The founder of PFLAG Panama City, Cathy Rifengurg. 

Although tragic, the shooting has made the LGBT community even stronger. 

"We are here, we're the community and we are visible. We are just like you, like everybody else. We work, we play and we give back. We're not really that much different from each other" said Shurbutt. 

Organizers hope that Sunday's event starts a conversation between children and parents about how to embrace who you are... as well as how to be accepting of all people regardless of their sexual orientation. 

Pride week has officially come to an end... but Pride of the Panhandle has events year round. If you are interested in checking out any future events, they can be found on their Facebook page:




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