DUNEDIN — With some laughter and tears, city commissioners proclaimed June as LGBTQ+ Pride Month in the city.
Commissioner Moe Freaney, who read the proclamation June 3, said that commissioners and many people in the community know the topic was personal for her.
"My partner Peg and I just celebrated 25 years together. And I am very proud of that," she said, amid applause.
She thanked city commissioners for raising the Pride flag June 1, and said she wanted to especially thank Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski.
"You have been and continue to be an amazing staunch advocate for diversity. I truly admire you for that," Freaney said.
Freaney said she lived the Pride journey.
"In my era we did feel fear. And we felt shame, and we felt confusion, and we felt isolation because we didn't know who to talk to," she said, "and who to ask."
The Pride flag is flown to "validate all truly are welcome in Dunedin," Freaney said. "That message is especially important to our children and our young people, who, by the way, still are dangerously at risk for depression and suicide," she said.
"This generation deserves better. This generation needs to know we are here. We support you; we have your back," Freaney said.
Bujalski, holding back tears, said, "What you just did given where you were 15 years ago — that's why I’m crying." She thank Freaney for being a part of the community.
Gregory Brady, a downtown hair salon owner who is active in the LGBTQ community, said a Pride celebration will be held June 18 at the Blur nightclub at 325 Main Street — the location in which a former bar was a safe haven decades ago for members of the gay community.
Brady said the event will be held in remembrance of the Stonewall riots, which were demonstrations by the gay community in Manhattan in response to a police raid in June 1969.
He recalled being a fifth-grader in Dunedin.
"I can tell you back in those days it wasn't an easy thing," he said. "And as we were all coming out in our youth, some of us, there were a lot of struggles. And there still are," he said.
He added that the gay community enjoys Dunedin "because it's a safe haven, a safe place to live, work and play. And I thank the commission for recognizing that tonight, and I'm very proud member of this community," Brady said.
The proclamation says that "the LGBTQ+ community has made great strides forward, but equality, inclusion and acceptance have not yet been fully achieved. We must practice these values and teach them to future generations."
Photo by TOM GERMOND
City officials are flying the Pride flag over City Hall in recognition of LGBTQ+ Pride Month in Dunedin.