BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — Bay Pride of Panama City and the LGBTQ Center of Bay County joined forces to host the first annual Bay Pride Summer Fest in St. Andrews.
Bay Pride of Panama City coordinator William Shurbutt-Rardin said the event was an educational opportunity for the group to tell their stories and talk about their fight towards equality.
“It is an outreach program, because it does allow people to come together from different groups, different walks of life, into one safe and fun environment, and actually spend time together and actually get to know each other a little bit,” Shurbutt-Rardin said. “When we allow that to happen, we’re all laughing and having a good time, we take that to heart and then our minds change, attitudes and perceptions change.”
Shurbutt-Rardin said it’s also a celebration of the reason for LGBTQ pride.
Entertainers from across the southeast attended the fest, including drag queen Zachary Ferrulli, also known as Bella Nouveau.
“I’m excited to learn about everybody here and make new friends and family,” Ferrulli said.
A Doggy Diva Drag Show was hosted by Salty Dog Mayor “Socks” and Le Bone Temps.
Shurbutt-Rardin said vendors and service organizations also attended the event to help inform attendees.
“Even though on the surface it looks like a party, and it is, we want to have a great time, but there’s also the message about pride, the reason of pride,” Shurbutt-Rardin said. “Today’s goal is for equality.”
Marketing and events director for The Salty Hobo Jake Navarro said they believe Bay County is becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ community, and said the restaurant was more than happy to be the venue for the Bay Pride Summer Fest.
“We just want to do our part and help put on these events where we can just showcase and show that this is just a way of life, and this is a celebration that everyone should have,” Navarro said.
Organizers want to thank The Salty Hobo, The Lie-brary and Slice House for their support for the event.