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Confederate flag bad, Gay Pride flag good

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Nationwide, it’s all about the flags.

People still shaken by the tragic massacre of nine African-American church-goers in Charleston, S.C., are shaking up political forums, social media and newscasts from coast to coast calling on South Carolina to remove the Confederate Flag from flying over official buildings.

That flag, they say, is racist.

Now people in Florida are taking a look at our state flag wondering if it resembles a little too closely the racist Confederate flag.

Then there’s Scott Mahurin, who figures if the City of St. Pete can fly a Gay Pride (big G, big P) over City Hall, he should be able to fly an anti-abortion flag too. State Rep. Larry Ahern also seems to have his back on that argument.

So it came as perhaps a bit of shock when today’s ceremonial raising of said Gay Pride flag, in all its rainbowed glory, didn’t raise nary an eyebrow.

“There’s been a lot of talk about flags recently. I think it’s important to note that this flag represents unity…it’s a flag of love…it’s a flag that’s not just for the LGBT Community, but for the entire community. It’s about bringing people together,” Mayor Rick Kriseman wrote on his Facebook page.

According to Creative Loafing, Kriseman was joined in raising the flag with his deputy mayor, Dr. Kanika Tomalin, St. Pete Police LGBT liaison Lieutenant Markus Hughes and Assistant Police Chief Melanie Bevan.

Bevan and Kriseman will serve as this year’s honorary grand marshals during the Saturday night parade.

Last year Kriseman made history as the first mayor to take part in the Pride parade.

The lack of fanfare surrounding this flag is probably good news for the LGBT community showing that no one bothered to schlep it out into the heat in protest. That’s despite calls from anti-gay conservative radio host Brian Fischer to take those down too.

This year’s pride event, spanning most of Central Avenue in the Grand Central District, has been extended to include more space and festivities carrying on into later Sunday afternoon than last year. Officials expect a 20 percent increase in turnout and up to 250,000 participants throughout the three-day event.

There’s a concert Friday night, the parade Saturday night and a street market Sunday. Expect fabulously dressed men and women donning anything from stilettos to Speedos. Neon boas are also usually a thing.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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