Updated: May 31
For those who were looking forward to attending, vending, and performing at PRIDE in St. Cloud this year, you know well of how the event was recently cancelled. The cancellation was noticed by many - including residents of the city, local news, and all the way to national to international media. To equip you with more knowledge and resources, here I explain the past, present, and future of the event in Saint Cloud.
Please note that by "we" I am speaking of myself as primary coordinator with support from team members of SPECTACLE and other supporting small businesses of St. Cloud.
2021 - our show SPECTACLE (in its early days) had its very first pride-focused theme "A Celebration of Pride" in Lake Nona. In this episode, we had a photoshoot with a drag-model, smoke bombs, which was followed by a small parade.
2022 - seeing how much of a challenge it was to grow an event like this in Lake Nona, we created "PRIDE in St. Cloud", which grew in schedule to provide more entertainment and community participation. Last year's event included a drag performance at Garage Bar, a parade through downtown St. Cloud, and a Pride Social + Market at Bone Sack Cider & Beer.
2023 - PRIDE in St. Cloud this Year
Event planning meetings were initiated long before the "Protection of Children" bill had been filed, proposed or signed.
In preparation for the bill, we structured our event to be a private and ticketed event at the indoor venue of OG Fitness. For this celebration of pride, we planned for food trucks, table vendors of local supportive businesses, a photo-op area, a motivational speaker, singer, and in closing, a drag performance. All event activities, rentals, and running costs were to be covered by ticket sales, vendor fees, sponsorships, and ultimately donations by co-sponsored businesses, in time and effort. I directly inquired with the City of Saint Cloud and Saint Cloud Police Department asking for their support of this community created event.
Upon signing of the bill, and its immediate legal impact, we pivoted, re-scheduled and immediately announced the drag event performance as an end of the evening separate event, requiring the monitored re-entry of attendees 18+.
Given the fast-paced changes happening in the state, we were notified by our drag queens that they would have to cancel their participation for safety concerns. This decision was difficult for them, and we fully support the choice that they made.
Having lost our headlining entertainment, we had to brainstorm other ways to bring attendees to the event that warranted the ticket prices and VIP experience rates.
In the same span of time that changes were being made to the event, we heard about and saw the article about the "Kill All Gays" sign that had been tampered with and displayed in Lake Nona.
Having a discussion with members who helped coordinate the event, it came down to two questions:
Can we host the event and guarantee safety of our attendees?
In the case that safety is not guaranteed, what are the risk factors?
In risk assessment, we found the answers to be the following:
Can we host the event and guarantee safety of our attendees? Without city or police support, we would have to hire a security company for the event. Reviewing ticket sales and assessing sponsorships and vendors, we determined that there were not enough funds to add this to the budget.
In the case that safety is not guaranteed, what are the risk factors? The first potential risk was harm to attendees on a scale that is unpredictable. Second, in this situation, I, as the primary coordinator, had to assess how any harm would impact my business. Any or all accountability and liability would fall on me - Bozanich Photography Collaborative (a small business with only one employee.)
From this assessment and in discussion with other coordinators, we determined two key factors. One, the funds were insufficient to ensure event safety. Two, without the necessary elevated security, the risk was too high to impose on my business.
The cancellation has impacted Bozanich Photography Collaborative to the point where it would be irresponsible to support the continuation of this event single-handedly. We did not just give up. We are actively seeking options for assistance, sustainable resources, and powerful local support to re-schedule the event in October. An example of our continued active involvement, is the below letter I wrote to Equality Florida, also involving our City of Saint Cloud and Osceola County community leaders:
"I would like to propose an adoption of this event by Equality Florida for the following reasons:
A non-profit & related organization should represent this event
A non-profit would fit the parameters of special event permitting in the city of Saint Cloud (whereas, we do not singularly have that distinction)
A stronger organization would be better prepared for potential financial and legal risk factors
Profits from this event would more directly be funneled towards the LGBTQIA+ community"
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Voice Your Support:
Write to the Equality Florida (Contact Page)
OR another non-profit organization that you believe could successfully adopt and support this event.
I am just a photographer and small business owner here in St. Cloud. I initiated, coordinated, and poured a lot of effort into this event because it was something I felt our community could benefit from. It deeply saddens me to see how this year's hopeful celebration turned into a disappointment for all of us. Being only one person - not an activist, not a city representative, and not a non-profit - I am very limited in what I can do for my community at the capacity that we hoped this event would have. Since the cancellation, I have lost clients & relationships, received hate on my personal and professional social media, and have incurred a financial loss. Therefore to sustain my business, I am closing my newly opened studio by June 17, 2023.
As a last hurrah in the Orlando studio, I am conducting an Inclusive Art Project themed for Pride. This art project was going to be our SPECTACLE episode at our pride event. Participants will be given a washable marker for them to write a message on themselves which will be photographed with the backdrop pictured. The art created from this will be displayed in a digital gallery, and I will share them with the City of Saint Cloud in support of continuing PRIDE. If you'd like to be part of the project, please sign up here to make your appointment.
I want to thank my fellow business owners, friends, and family who have been supportive of my endeavors. It was a team effort bringing this event for our community, but we have learned that it will take something much bigger than us to make it happen in a safe environment. Together we are stronger, and I hope that you show your support to the city so that pride can come back this year, and every year after.
Useful Resources for Our Youth:
As a creative media company, my team and I are committed to including the diversity of the world around us. We will continue to promote a platform where the LGTBQIA+ community feels seen, heard, and represented. We will always be on the side of love and inclusion, acceptance and kindness. We are just a small-time organization trying to bring awareness to a culture and lifestyle. We’re not big enough to spread this message ourselves, but we call upon people with strong moral capital to take a stand with us.
- KRISTINA BOZANICH,
CEO / Creative Director / Photographer
- Kristina Bozanich - I am your expert portrait photographer of the St. Cloud & Orlando. I am the director of the photoshoot series, SPECTACLE. To see more updates, follow on social media or sign up for email subscriptions.