Pensacola Pride starts in May, with the last weekend of the month kicking things off with a beach party for the LGBTQ community. Read on to learn more about Pensacola Pride, plus where you can go and what you can do to celebrate Pride month.
The LGBTQ Community In Pensacola
While LGBTQ people have lived in Pensacola well before the 1950s, the local gay movement is credited to Ray and Henry Hillyer who started the Emma Jones Society. This gay book club was active in the 60s, passing around gay literature and reading materials that were deemed “pornographic”. The Hillyers also held gatherings around the 4th of July to reinforce the idea that gays and lesbians were Americans, too.
Now, decades later, the events take place around Memorial Day. In fact, the Pensacola Memorial Day beach party is one of the biggest events in the Pensacola LGBTQ season.
Events For Pensacola Pride
The unofficial kick-off for Pride in the Panhandle is Memorial Day Weekend. Though it’s technically in May, it’s still a big part of the Pensacola Pride that spans the month of June. Below are some of the other events you can expect throughout the month:
The P3 Comedy Festival
The P3 Comedy festival is an annual gathering of comics that benefits the Tragedy Assistance Program For Survivors. Better known as TAPS, it’s a mental health service specifically designed to help grieving military families.
Every year, the funniest people across the country descend on Pensacola and perform in various venues throughout the city. The festival typically draws over 50 comedians and thousands more attendees.
Sexacola is a series of lesbian gatherings full of dance music, performances, and women who love women celebrating Pride. There are usually celebrity DJs, burlesque queens, drag performers, fire dancers, gogo, and so much more.
The party starts Friday and goes on all weekend. Every night is a different set of performers and themes, such as “foam party” or “white party”.
Started in 2003 by Kristy Lee, Pensacola Unleashed is another party catering to music-loving WLW. It initially began as an unannounced concert by Lee herself – the organizer continues to play in the lineup today, which has featured the likes of Amythyst Kiah, Meredith Hicks, Bitch, and Stephanie Callahan.
Pensacola Beach Pride Weekend
Pensacola Beach Pride Weekend is a big deal. Thousands of people converge on Pensacola beach, with some people even camping out to secure good spots – all to celebrate with hundreds of new friends over the Memorial Day Weekend. It’s a giant beach party with tea dances and nightly DJ lead ragers that go on until the wee hours of the morning.
While a lot of people go to parties to celebrate Pride, it’s also a good time to learn more about the experiences within the community that are different from ours. Every year, during Pride, there are a series of panels and talks about the different issues of LGBTQ people. Some past topics include “Loving Our T&A (Transgender and Ally Brothers and Sisters)” and “Marriage Equality And More.”
While Pride is and always will be a protest, it has since expanded to different forms of activism. One new way that people can participate in Pride is by attending advocacy training workshops that teach you how to become a part of the movement for LGBTQ equality.
The ultimate goal of these workshops is to hone skills and train the next generation of queer advocates and activists. Packed with excellent information on how to approach issues and push policy, they teach you how and when to contact congresspeople or when to appeal to the media, among other essential skills.
Mini LGBTQ Movie Marathon
During Pride month, tons of cinemas and venues around the metro play LGBTQ movies. While there is no formal event or official queer cinema festival, holding your own mini-movie marathon is a fun way to get into the festivities – especially if late-night parties aren’t your thing.
The Celebration Ball is Pensacola Pride’s fanciest event. Experience a four-course gourmet meal and late-night entertainment by a local ensemble. Festive or formal wear is highly encouraged, so this is the time to break out your best outfits!
While Memorial Day Weekend gets most of the press for Pride, June is still full of gay things to do in Pensacola. One of the biggest is PensaPride, a whole-day celebration packed with live music, drag shows, and performances. There is even a vendor market where you can browse local art and sample delicious food and drinks – all non-alcoholic, as this is a sober space.
Pensacola Pride is proudly locally supported. There are no corporate sponsorships or big corporations involved with the Pride celebration in the biggest city in the Panhandle.
Pride is not all about beach parties – there are also smaller events going on at gay clubs around the metro. Here are some options to check out:
560 E Heinburg St
Roundup is one of the most famous gay bars in Pensacola. The staff is friendly, the atmosphere is laid-back, and you can party all night on the dance floor or by the billiards table. The bartenders make some mean drinks – if you’re adventurous, you can even try its “secret shot”, the Minogue!
The Roundup is open Monday to Sunday from 2 PM to 3 AM the next morning.
The Cabaret Pensacola
101 S Jefferson St
There is always something going on at The Cabaret Pensacola! It’s a fabulous gay bar in Pensacola where the drinks are strong and the entertainment is top-tier. From drag shows to guest DJs, The Cabaret delivers a good time, every time.
The Cabaret is open Monday to Sunday from 3 PM to 3 AM the next morning.
While Pensacola is perceived to be a culturally conservative place most of the year, there is a growing LGBTQ community. Every year, the city attracts thousands of tourists who party hard for its LGBTQ community. From Memorial Day to the end of June, celebrate Pride in Pensacola!
Make sure to check out our Complete Pride Guide for more pride events around Florida.
**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, 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 and schedules are subject to change.