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Tampa Bay-area pride flags fly amid new laws critics deem anti-LGBTQ

June kicks off the beginning of Pride month and those in the LGBTQ community raised pride flags to celebrate who they are.

GULFPORT, Fla. — Tampa Bay-area cities rose pride flags on Thursday as the LGBTQ community kicked off Pride month. This year, however, new laws are restricting how pride parades look.

This weekend, those in Gulfport are getting ready to celebrate theirs. 

"I’m a performer first and foremost and there’s nothing wrong with us," a male performer in Gulfport, Silver Foxx, said.

Foxx will be performing this weekend at the Gulfport Pride Parade, but not in public this year. 

"It’s sad that I can’t perform on stage outside because there might be kids there," Foxx expressed.

New laws restrict Foxx's performance. Foxx explained the vice mayor of Gulfport alerted him that he will perform inside with people 21 years and older.

"I came out a long time ago and to think that I have to go back in the closet, it’s not going to happen. I’m out, I’m proud," Foxx said.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1438 into law in May. It prohibits businesses from allowing children to watch adult live performances. 

"I mean, you'll have situations where you will have like an 8-year-old girl there, where you have these like really explicit shows and that is inappropriate," DeSantis said during a news conference on May 17.

With the new law, city officials are making sure they follow the new rules. Some local municipality leaders are personally impacted by the new laws involving the LGBTQ community. 

"To see this come back again is very disheartening, to say the least," Gulfport Vice Mayor Paul Ray said.

Ray watched as the pride flag was raised in his city Thursday night. Ray said the city made changes for this weekend’s pride parade and moved drag performances indoors.

"There are people who are very concerned and very worried and the fear level is much higher," Ray explained. 

Brianna Summers is a drag performer and won’t let fear stop her from performing. 

"I never thought that I would be standing in the halls of Tallahassee in the Capitol building saying that I’m here to fight for my human rights," Summers said.

No matter what obstacles state leaders put in Summers' way, she said drag will continue. 

"We raise the flag to let people know we have been resilient. That we will continue to fight for our rights, for liberties, for existing as human beings," Summers said.

Gulfport’s Pride parade is on Saturday, June 3. All drag performances will be inside with adults only to follow state law.

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