Pride & Passion 2018: The Greatest Party Nobody Told You About

Hidden behind glass doors, invisible to all but those who know where to look,  a group of people dances until morning.

Pride and Passion is one of the main fundraising events hosted by the Tampa Museum of Art. It started thirteen years ago as a small gathering of members of the LGBT community, and it has, over the years, grown to be a loud, colorful celebration of the strange, the weird, and the beautiful. Guests are encouraged to dress up in bizarre ways, to eat all the delicacies on display, and to dance until they drop.

It is amazing, eclectic, interesting, and I haven’t heard of it in all my years of living here.

Honestly, I’m kind of ashamed.


 As I have alluded in my Instagram, I have started a new position at the Tampa Museum of Art a little bit over two months ago. I was offered to work Pride and Passion in exchange of joining in the festivities once my shift was over, and I immediately said yes: the event was talked about for months around the office and I was curious as to what that even was (nobody would tell me for weeks!), and once I heard what it actually was I just wanted to see it for myself—honestly, I would’ve cleaned bathrooms if it meant I’d get to party afterwards. 

Thankfully, my assigned task was as a greeter. Which meant I basically stood next to my boss by the arches that separated the main area from the registration tables, and while he shook patrons’ hands and was all proper and CEO-y I got to banter with the guests, ooh-ing and aah-ing at their outfit choices and make light conversation.

In front of me were a polite bunch of people with funny hats waiting for their tickets to be validated. Behind me there were bearded women, acrobats, sword swallowers, men in drag, aerialists, all of it punctuated by the loud, thumbing trance music  carefully curated to make people want to move.

I felt like the gatekeeper to a dimension where rules didn’t apply, and I was elated.

Once my shift was over, I was free to walk around. At that point I was tired from standing in heels and shaking hands nonstop for three hours, and so I just stood back and took it all in. In a corner, a silk aerialist turned and flipped, bathed in purple light. At the dance floor the DJ played old favorites. And mingling in the crowd, models with outrageous outfits and flawless makeup posed for pictures. After having a conversation with a gorgeous woman who wasn’t a woman at all for the second time, I gave up trying to assign genders and just surrendered to not knowing what the eff was going on.



 The food was a mix of cute pastry samples (I stayed an extra ten minutes just so I could sample everything they had!) and unusual food choices (I has escargot for the first time ever!) and though I didn’t try any of the drinks as I was technically at work, I was repeatedly assured by the guests that the selections were great in that area too.

All in all, Pride and Passion is a night where you can get your freak on, dance all night, and party with the very best. A true celebration of the LGBT community in all its strange beauty, and one way more people need to be made aware of.

(please, consider attending next year, if you happen to be in the area. It guarantees I get to keep my job :D)