Last year, Naples held its first-ever LGBTQ+ Pride event, in what was an incredibly encouraging move for LGBTQ+ residents aware of Collier County’s conservative reputation. On June 2nd, the city held its second Naples Pride event, and surpassed their first, reports Katherine Hamilton for the Naples Daily News.

Around 5,000 people attended Naples Pride this year, according to event leader Cori Craciun. While this was roughly the high end of the estimated turnout at last year’s event as well, Craciun says they’ve received a lot more community support and involvement. “Last year we had four sponsors; this year we have 14,” said Craciun. “Last year we received $6,500; this year they have over $22,000 just from sponsorship. It’s amazing.” They even had to turn down some vendors due to the number of applications they received.

Naples Pride
From Naples Pride 2017. Image grabbed from Naples Pride Facebook Page

The event’s theme this year was “We are Equal,” continuing the tradition started last year of defying anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments and legislation that has reared up since the 2016 election. Says Craciun, “There was so much negativity and so much hate. I felt like if we didn’t come out, we were going to be buried in the ground. So, we have to speak out and show that we are proud, and everyone is happy and welcoming.”

The event featured speakers on a variety of LGBTQ+ topics, as well as a number of performers. While admittance was free, attendees were encouraged to donate $5 to the Naples Pride LGBTQ Task Force Emergency Fund, which provides housing, clothing, food, and care to LGBTQ+ people in need in the community.

Steve Thomas, local resident and two-year Naples Pride attendee, says the event shows “that diversity is on the side of history, and all the naysayers are not.”

Read the Naples Daily News article here.