Gay the Hathaway march acknowledges more than pride

Bay County
Gay the Hathaway annual march

Bay County’s LGBTQ community gathers on Hathaway Bridge to wrap up pride month.

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — On a cloudy day you might expect to see a rainbow, but today on the Hathaway Bridge there was at least one hundred rainbows.

For the seventh year in a row, Gay the Hathaway brought together Bay County’s LGBTQ community.

“We have a very large community here and this is our chance to come out and be seen,” said William Shurbutt-Rardin, Event Director for the LGBTQ Center of Bay County.

Beginning at Carl Gray Park, pride had encompassed the Hathaway Bridge.

“We’re going up to the top of the bridge… we span it, we turn it into our own rainbow, we greet everyone coming across and we take the love we’re getting from all of the passer-bys and just being seen,” said Shurbutt-Rardin.

Last year, COVID-19 interrupted the event but there was still a great turnout. This year, there was a different obstacle.

“It’s a beautiful day. Despite all the rain, a few thunderclouds, this is a beautiful day as we celebrate that in 2021, we can all be free to go wherever we want, to be with whoever we want, have pride in ourselves and our lives in a way that we were not able to do so 60 years ago,” said Janice Lucas, Executive Director of the Lead Coalition of Bay County.

Close to 150 people held signs, waved their flags and marched celebrating pride; but, they had given representation to more than that.

“This year, Gay the Hathaway has included in part of its celebration an acknowledgment and commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the freedom riders,” said Lucas.

The march included the following groups: Freedom Writers, Lead Coalition, Black Voters Matter, the LGBTQ Center of Bay County, and Bay Pride.

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