Orlando’s LGBTQ community celebrates the Come Out With Pride festival


Annalyn Caputo

Orlando’s Come Out With Pride Festival takes place every October.

Annalyn Caputo, Social Media Editor

“I’m gay, where else would I be?” Mat Bridges, 31, laughs as techno music surrounds my ears and rainbows fill my vision. Music, glitter, and laughter have enveloped Orlando’s Lake Eola Park as the 15th Annual Come Out With Pride festival kicked into full swing. 

In 2005, the Pride Chamber of Orlando felt a more open dialogue was needed between the LBGQT+ community and the city, so blossomed the Come Out With Pride Festival. Now considered one of Florida’s largest pride festivals, it grows larger each year. 

Jody Rogers, 46, attends the festival as often as she can – says she has only missed two since its inception. This year, she is attending with The Freethought Community of Central Florida – a non-profit that promotes separation between church and state. In addition to growing every year, Rogers says that it also grows in diversity: “there’s definitely a larger [number], not only physically, but types of different people.” 

The highlight of the festival is the one-mile parade around Lake Eola. This year over 150 groups participated, including The Pulse Foundation, The Freethought Community, and corporations such as Tito’s Vodka and Southwest Airlines. A vibrant marketplace is set up around the Walt Disney Amphitheater and along the lakeside, giving festival-goers views as well as fun.

Leading up to the parade there is plenty to do with craft stalls, photo booths, games, food, and music playing – the electricity is undeniable.

“You never know what you are going to find here, you just don’t know,” says Bridges.

Come Out With Pride is more than a festival one weekend a year. Since 2015, the organization has raised over $100,000 that was put back into the LBGQT+ community of Orlando in the form of grants and scholarships. 

The festival itself takes place every fall. Planners make sure the dates always fall during the first or second week of October to coincide with National Coming Out Day and National Gay and Lesbian History Month.