DeLand Pride: An In-Depth Look at Its History, Events, and Community Initiatives

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“Being a voice for the voiceless by fostering belonging, serving the community, advancing equality, and empowering youth” is how DeLand Pride articulates its mission. As one of the most active LGBTQ+ non-profits in Central Florida, the organization’s dedication to their mission is evident in their history, events and community initiatives.

Under the non-profit umbrella of Volusia Pride, along with Lake Helen Pride and Daytona Pride, DeLand Pride accomplishes their mission by embracing innovation, fresh ideas, and creativity. At the core of their strategy is collaboration, partnering with individuals and organizations throughout Central Florida to create an inclusive city, state, and world. 

History of DeLand Pride

DeLand Pride’s origins trace back to the aftermath of the Orlando Pulse Shooting in June 2016. Founded by Dagny Robertson, a mother of two sons, one of whom came out as gay during his teenage years, Dagny and her husband, Tom, recognized the challenges their son faced in being his authentic self.

Witnessing the global outpouring of support for the LGBTQ+ community after the Pulse shooting, Dagny was inspired to create an avenue for embracing and accepting DeLand’s diverse community. She collaborated with existing LGBTQ+ Pride groups in the area, including Collective Cares DeLand, to cultivate a sense of acceptance and well-being in the DeLand community. Their goal was to establish safe spaces where everyone could simply be themselves. One such space is the Abbey Bar in Downtown DeLand. Here, they provide a safe and welcoming place for the queer community to gather, celebrate, grow, and call “home.”

DeLand Pride

Pride Events In DeLand

DeLand Pride hosts a number of events throughout the year. Here are a few not to miss:

Love Is Love Pride Festival  

All are welcome to attend this free, family-friendly event in Artisan Alley in February. Bring yourself, your partner, or your family and enjoy live entertainment, youth activities, family fairy tales, drag story time, and more than 70 vendors in the pride marketplace. Don’t forget to get your raffle tickets for a chance to win items donated by local businesses. 

For the 18+ crowd, Cafe DaVinci typically schedules activities from 4:00 PM to midnight, including the Colors of the Rainbow Show, followed by a featured show, and live music from a local band.

Volusia Pride Pageant 

To kick off Pride Month in June, the DeLand Pride Pageant is held at the Athens Theater. It’s an evening of creative performances, amazing costumes, and friendly competition. Contestants compete in three different divisions (Miss, Mister, and MX) to become the next DeLand Pride representatives for community events throughout Florida. 

DeLand Pride Youth Prom

Held annually, and typically taking place in April, the DeLand Pride Youth Prom is for kids ages 13-18. It’s a free event, but you need to reserve a ticket in advance. Express yourself in a costume or just come-as-you-are for a night of dancing and fun.

Other DeLand Pride Programs and Initiatives

Beyond events, DeLand Pride has created several programs and initiatives to further support the LGBTQ+ community in Volusia County.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

Working with local community organizations, Neighbors Helping Neighbors reaches out to needy and at-risk members of Volusia County to provide support for the needs of school supplies, holiday toys, and pet supplies. Drag Bingo is held monthly with proceeds going to these outreach efforts.

Volusia-Flagler Rainbow Alliance Scholarship Program

Providing financial assistance to members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies for  higher education expenses, the Volusia-Flagler Rainbow Alliance Scholarship Program is open to anyone with a temporary or permanent address in Volusia or Flagler Counties. On-line applications are accepted through April 1st, with winners announced on May1st..

Youth Outreach Program 

The Youth Outreach Program is one that encourages future leaders by creating safe spaces for young people to connect. Here, they and their allies are supported, engaged, and nurtured. Activities include monthly socials, Dungeons & Dragons sessions, and an annual back to school clothing swap.

DeLand Pride Advocacy 

A newly-formed sub-committee of DeLand Pride, the Advocacy team responds to current events and community requests as the need arises. The team traveled to Tallahassee for Pride at the Capital with Equality Florida for the last two years, and has recently held an Equity & Diversity Book Giveaway in response to the recent increase in book banning attempts at the school district level.

DeLand Pride: Crafting Positive Change in Central Florida

DeLand Pride’s impact extends beyond social gatherings and outreach efforts. They emphasize the importance of standing up for their beliefs and calling out injustice, believing that this courage is a crucial driver of positive social change. This commitment to ethical principles and unwavering perseverance in the face of adversity, sets them apart as a beacon of hope for the LGBTQ+ community in Volusia County. By working hand-in-hand with the wider community in Central Florida, DeLand Pride is creating an environment where everyone can live authentically and safely. Their dedication to inclusivity and celebration of diversity reflects their ongoing efforts to make a brighter future for all in Central Florida.

For more information on all of their upcoming pride events, initiatives and programs go to DeLand Pride.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida and beyond, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Events are subject to change. Please check the events webpage for updates and schedules.

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july, 2024

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