Over the weekend, Orlando Pride brought together an astonishing crowd of more than 200,000 attendees, with an 11-year-old transgender girl taking the spotlight as the Grand Marshal. The “Come Out With Pride” celebration, renowned as “the Most Colorful Parade” in the state, saw enthusiastic revelers thronging the streets around Lake Eola.
Dempsey Jara, the parade’s young figurehead, made history as the youngest Grand Marshal in the event’s storied history. From the front seat of a convertible, she waved and blew kisses to the cheering crowd, adorned in heart-shaped pink sunglasses and a floral dress, a playful puppy on her lap.
“Being transgender is not about a choice,” Dempsey passionately expressed to local media ahead of the event. “It’s about being true to myself. It’s about embracing who I am even when the world tries to tell me otherwise. It’s about standing tall in my identity even when it’s really hard.”
In a politically charged climate in Florida, Dempsey’s parents have faced criticism and accusations of “child abuse” for supporting their daughter’s journey. Despite the challenges, Dempsey’s message of authenticity and pride remains resolute. She shared on Instagram, “Yesterday was the best day of my life! It’s not easy to be a constant target of hate, but I remain visible because I want other Trans kids to know there is such #joy in being your authentic self. Thank you, Orlando, for showering me with so much love!”
Orlando Pride not only celebrated the diversity and resilience of the LGBTQ+ community but also served as a powerful symbol of resistance against ongoing discrimination and persecution faced by the community in the state, notably spearheaded by Governor Ron DeSantis.