Key West Pride, first started in 1978, still goes strong today as the residents of the United States’ southernmost point celebrate dignity, equality and love. This year, the festivities kick off on Wednesday, June 11, ushering in five days of fun and frivolity. The party ends with the sunset on Sunday evening, June 15.

The Key West Pride week kicks off with a “Bow Ties and Bubbly” opening party at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the Island House (1129 Fleming Street). This is a unique party because this is the only time of year women are allowed inside the gates of the all-male clothing-optional resort! At 8 p.m., the 801 Cabaret Bar (801 Duval Street) hosts the Miss Key West Pride pageant. As RuPaul would say, start your engines, and may the best woman win!

If you’re a fan of shopping, you’ll love how Key West Pride starts the day on Thursday. Startingkw_2 at noon, there will be a Coconut Pride Shop Crawl, where people can shop at gay-owned and gay-friendly businesses and in turn receive discounts for their patronage. For a list of participating businesses, visit At 6:30 p.m., Sunset Water Sports (2801 N. Roosevelt Boulevard) hosts a Sunset Dinner Cruise, allowing you to celebrate pride on the water and be awed by the beautiful sunset on the water. To book your tickets for this experience, visit or call (305) 296-2554. Finally, a Pride-themed dance party starts at 11 p.m. with DJ Nick spinning some seriously hot beats! This dance party stars you, and you’ll be ready for your closeup at Aqua (711 Duval Street).

kw_4What’s the point of being in a tropical paradise if you can’t look cute in your bathing suit and enjoy the water? On Friday afternoon, the Island House hosts a “For the Boys!” pool party. Now that I think about it…you can look cute in your bathing suit or slip out of it! After all, it is the famous clothing-optional Island House! At 5 p.m., you can meet the Key West couples involved in a marriage equality lawsuit at 801 Bourbon Bar (801 Duval Street). We interviewed Aaron Huntsman, one half of one such couple, in a story for our website; if you’d like to go back and read our talk with Mr. Huntsman, go to “feature stories” at There’s forbidden late night fun at Saloon 1 starting at 11 p.m. with their infamous “Pride Fetish Party”! They say it’s not for the faint of heart, so I think it will be perfect for our readers! This party is in the rear side of 801 Duval Street.

On Saturday, the Pride Festival’s street fair starts at 10 a.m. and runs until just before sunset. Located in the Heart of Duval (the 700 and 800 blocks of Duval Street), people can visit the barskw_1 and restaurants that make Key West as unique as it is, as well as visit street vendors who have set up just for your perusal this Pride weekend. On Sunday starting at 5 p.m., the Key West Pride Parade will stretch from the Gulf to the Atlantic on Duval Street. This will be the eleventh straight year that the two-kilometer long gay pride flag will be unfurled and happily paraded down Duval Street. The grand marshal of the Pride Parade this year is LGBT activist and Iraq War veteran Rob Smith.

There’s more to entertain crowds this weekend though, not least of which are the hot parties! The Bourbon Street Garden Bar (724 Duval Street) is the venue for Saturday night’s Purgatory Pride-Flag-2012-TDC-2Foam Party. Fetish attire isn’t required but it sure is encouraged, as Key West mixes nice with naughty at this nighttime pool party. On Sunday night, Key West Pride ends with a bang at Aqua, as all the partygoers come out starting at 10 p.m. to dance the night away and plan their Keys trip next year. Hey, it’s never too early to make plans!

Key West Pride is part of the Key West Business Guild’s network of events. To read more about Key West Pride, visit To read more about the Key West Business Guild, visit