Five years ago, about a dozen musicians walked over last night’s sticky floors into a hot bar with a loud fan blowing 98 degrees of last night’s stale air. The first members of the Tampa Bay Pride Band had humble beginnings, rehearsing once a week with incomplete instrumentation at the Honeypot in Ybor City, performing two concerts a year at the Hive, an auditorium in downtown Tampa’s John F. Germany Public Library, and marching in the inaugural Tampa Pride Parade.
After a year of hard, hot work, our numbers doubled, and our program’s growth led us to rehearse at the Metropolitan Community Church and perform four concerts a year. We began to march in both the Tampa Pride and St. Pete Pride parades regularly. In our third year, we gained 501c3 non-profit status, allowing our organization to continue serving quality music to the community. By the time our fifth year ended, we had partnered up with a local public school, Middleton High School, for a rehearsal and concert venue; we created the Tampa Bay Pride Band’s Pride Music and Arts Festival, which is the first event of Tampa’s pride month; we established a tradition of free yearly outdoor concerts during Riverfest at the Waterworks Park; we used our chamber ensembles to support the Florida Orchestra’s Pride Night and Lowry Park Zoo’s Pridezoola; we partnered with the Lesbian and Gay Band Association (LGBA) to attend the 2017 Florida Music Education Association conference, becoming the first LGBA band to attend a professional networking conference; and, most recently, we served as the 2019 Grand Marshall of the Tampa Pride Parade.
With the next five years on the horizon, we are excited to have a new rehearsal and concert venue, the Hillsborough Community College Performing Arts Campus in Ybor. We are partnering with two other LGBTQ+ community bands in Florida to host the international LGBA conference taking place in Orlando in October, premiering two new concert works by composers Randall Standridge and Julie Giroux. The Tampa Bay Pride Band will continue to serve the Tampa Bay community and will continue to present and promote music of the highest artistic quality.