Public invited to the 3rd Annual Emerald Coast Pride Walk on June 15

Gay Straight Alliance gather for a group photo at the 2018 Emerald Coast Pride Walk

NICEVILLE, FL -The public is invited to participate in the 3rd Annual Emerald Coast Pride Walk sponsored by the Northwest Florida State College Gay-Straight Alliance and the Niceville High School Gay-Straight Alliance.

This year’s Emerald Coast Pride Walk will be held on Saturday, June 15. Participants are asked to arrive at 8:45 a.m. for a 9 a.m. start at Niceville High School, 800 E. John Sims Parkway. The walk will proceed to Niceville Walmart Supercenter before returning to the high school for a pride celebration from 10 a.m. to noon.

“It grows every year,” said Dr. David Simmons, faculty advisor for NWF State College’s Gay-Straight Alliance. “The first year there were 200 plus people, and last year there were 250 plus people, and we are hoping for quite a few more this year.”

This year, Simmons said the group hopes to increase the awareness and support of the Emerald Coast’s LGBTQ community. Many in the LGBTQ community have endured rejection in many different social spheres, Simmons said, so the purpose of the Gay-Straight Alliance on campus is to give LGBTQ students a safe place to learn and grow.

“Our college is committed to a diverse and inclusive culture among our faculty, staff and students,” said Dr. Devin Stephenson, president of Northwest Florida State College. “We embrace this challenge by raising awareness and implementing programs and initiatives that bring the celebration of diversity to life at our college and in the community.”

As for the pride walk, Claudia Lebrun, president of the NWF State College Gay-Straight Alliance, said the day is a celebratory way for the college to reach beyond the campus and include the wider Northwest Florida community.

“As a student, I think this walk is important because it represents the LGBTQ community of the area,” Lebrun said of the pride walk. “It celebrates us, it celebrates diversity; it’s a celebration of love and all types of love.”

Participants of the Emerald Coast Pride Walk can expect the two-mile roundtrip walk to Niceville Walmart to begin after an inspirational speech by Simmons. Following the walk, participants can enjoy open-mic events and dancing in the Niceville High School Auditorium as well as refreshments from local food trucks and other area vendors. There will also be Pride merchandise for sale with a portion of the proceeds to support the NWF State College and Niceville High School Gay-Straight Alliances.

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