SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – For the first time in the city’s history, Sarasota is celebrating Pride Month. The city made the official proclamation last week.
There are colorful symbols across town in the form of murals and banners. There’s also a Pride flag flying above Sarasota’s City Hall.
“Symbols are what movements are built on. Symbols give us hope and they give people a sense of belonging and we want people to feel inclusive and comfortable in the City of Sarasota,” Mayor Hagen Brody said.
One of the largest displays was set for Sarasota’s most prominent bridge. The John Ringling Causeway was supposed to be illuminated in rainbow lights throughout the month of June. However, the Florida Department of Transportation denied the city’s original request.
After pushback from the LGBTQ community and a request to reconsider from Mayor Brody, the state reversed it’s decision Wednesday afternoon. Mayor Brody shared the update in an email with city leaders.
“Today we received word from our FDOT District Secretary, following a meeting of the Secretary’s statewide, that they have reconsidered our denial to light the Ringling Causeway Bridge in recognition of Pride Month,” wrote Brody. “As a result, our FDOT is reversing that decision and affirming our request as a matter of ‘broad community interest.'”
“The symbolism lighting the bridge at this point in recognition of Pride Month exhibits our commitment to a welcoming and inclusive community for all of our residents and visitors,” the mayor wrote in an email. “I want to thank FDOT Secretary (L.K.) Nandam for his thoughtful reconsideration of this meaningful gesture. Better late than never.”
“If you don’t have visibility, you are not part of the conversation,” said Project Pride SRQ Board President Jordan Letschert. “Lighting up the bridge will add visibility and conversation to the city as the city continues to become more diverse and embrace its diversity.”
City leaders will approve a resolution at a special meeting Monday to allow the Pride Month display.