June 28! Stonewall In the Park!

June 28, 2015 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Karrissa Wade, longtime writer for Metrojacksonville and one of the fundraising powerhouses in Jville for charitable causes, is hosting the first Stonewall Celebration officially recognized by the City of Jacksonville in Hemming Park. The event is Sunday June 28th (the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising) and will be held from 1pm until 10pm at night. Karrissa will be hosting drag performances, speakers from all over and a pretty fantastic dance party at Hemming for the entire community. Join us after the jump for details and some history on Stonewall.

Jacksonville- June 24th

Because the Stonewall Uprising happened at the end of June it is the traditional pride month for most cities.  Gay Pride Parades and Pride events go on all around the globe now during this time of the year, but Jacksonville is generally considered too hot to hold our Pride event in the summer, which is why it is celebrated in October here.

Which has been considered an oversight by many in the gay community.  Hemming Park, Jim Webb and Karrissa Wade happily agreed on this and have put together the inaugural  Stonewall celebration for Jacksonville.

As in most things, Jacksonville actually has a quirky history on the subject.  Being gay was illegal in every state except Illinois, but there is often a difference between illegal and enforced.  We can generally windle around issues with semantics, which is almost an art form in the South.  Only a true Southerner like Bill Clinton could have argued over the exact meaning of 'is' for example.  So while New York was still illegalizing not just gayness but also gay bars, Jacksonville already had a legal one open over on Beach Boulevard.

It had been open since 1966 in fact, and the County Commisioner debate over whether or not it should be allowed to open and be licensed was broadcast live, according to its founder, Roverta Boen ("Bo") who opened it at the corner of Beach and Forest Boulevard.

The debate happened in the context of the ignonimous ending of the St. John Committee crusade to eradicate the homosexuals from Florida.---truly a shameful episode in Florida history that (predictably) came to a buffoonish end in 1965. The committee was disbanded after publishing a highly erotic pictorial guide to gay sex intended as a warning to all citizens. The citizens of Florida viewed the publication as pure gay porn being produced on the public dime and North Florida didnt have the same taste for destroying peoples lives over their sexual preferences that south florida seemed to have.  Check out the notorious 'purple pamphlet' here: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00004805/00001

The following year, Bo's Coral Reef was allowed to legally open out in the woods as long as they didn't allow anything as scandalous as same sex dancing.  Which they totally did. (turned out there were gay cops even back in the 1960s)  Every now and then there was a legitimate raid and the gay men would simply switch dancing partners with the lesbians and prostitutes that flocked to the bar.

By 1969, the year of the Stonewall Riots in New York, Jacksonville's lgbt was already firmly, if quietly established.  Most of it was the closeted activity at the upstairs bars of the Windsor Hotel and the George Washington Hotels downtown and in Hemming Park, but the little gay bar out on Beach Boulevard was a regional draw.  So in a sense, having the event at Hemming Park is an appropriate gesture.  Once upon a time, the gay men would have passed from the front doors of the Windsor, walked across the park and taken a turn towards the river down Laura Street where they would find rough trade at the wharves.

Meanwhile in Dade County:

Detective Sorenson of the Dade County Department of Morals threatening an entire school assembly with dire consequences if they are caught doing the gay.

Karrissa Wade, the host of Stonewall in the Park is putting the final touches on the event which will be held Sunday in Hemming Park.

She explained the event thusly:  "We will be honoring those who paved our way. What started as the last straw--after numerous beatings and arrest--- the queens, transgendered, lesbians, homeless gay kids and patrons stood up and said enough is enough.

The commemoration of this event is considered the key point in the civil rights movement for the lgbt and led us to the path of equality.

So what started as a riot during the Summer of Love (1969) will be a peaceful celebration of joy in 2015.

We will have key speakers, live music, (provided by Dj Misdirection and Dj Rob.

Special guest from Rupaul drag race. Live LGBT comedians. Food, music and local performers.

Jim Webb and myself have worked so hard to include all people. Its Free to the public from 1-10 pm.  We've worked hard to make it a kid friendly event focusing on the theme that we are all equal. One voice, one community. If we can educate and help make a difference in just one person's life, then these many months we have worked on will be worth it."

The entertainment lineup (not in order and subject to last minute changes!)

Miss Georgia Comedy Queen Karrissa Wade

Miss USA 2002 and Miss Continental 2011 Alexis Gabrielle Sherrington

RuPaul’s Drag Race Stacey Layne Matthews

RuPaul’s Drag Race Alisa Summers

former Miss USA Classic Amy Demillo  

Orlando’s Miss Bridgette Galore

Miss Metro 2013 Diva Cliche
Patti LaBelle Impersonator Sierra Mitchell
Adriana Manchez Miss Riot 2011
Jacksonville Legend Rickie Lee
Lexi L’Amour
Miss Jen Durliss
The First Coast Sisters
P!nk Impersonator Sania De’la Cruize
Miss Jacksonville Comedy Queen Cinnamon Laroche
Beyonce Impersonator Miss Metro Newcomer Jayla Roxx
Jade and the Big Guns
Miss St. Augustine Pride LaTonga Manchez
Miss Riot Veronica Vixen
And more Special Guests, Speakers and Surprises including LIZ'S DAD!

article by stephen dare

NEXT PAGE: About the Stonewall Uprising!

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