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Get the latest coverage of the 2024 Florida legislative session in Tallahassee from our coverage partners and WUSF.

Members of Tallahassee's LGBTQ+ community are focused on pride despite feeling fear

At the Queer Makers Market, people come together from all over Tallahassee to support the LGBTQ+ community.
Lucas Calloch
/
Unsplash
At the Queer Makers Market, people come together from all over Tallahassee to support the LGBTQ+ community.

With the next legislative session coming up in January, the LGBTQ+ community in Florida is worried they could be targeted again. But in Tallahassee, some see that fear as a reason to rally together.

At Tallahassee's Queer Makers Market, rainbow flags flutter in the wind amid a handful of tables and mostly white tents in a small grassy field. Custom artwork and crochet stuffed animals sit alongside pride pins and handmade trinkets. The Queer Makers Market showcases local artists who are members of the LGBTQ+ community.

With the next legislative session coming up in January, many in the LGBTQ+ community in Florida are worried they could be targeted again. During the last legislative session, the state limited discussions on gender and sexuality in public school classrooms. It also placed limits on gender-affirming medical care and has tried to restrict certain types of drag performances some lawmakers deem obscene. It's a climate that has many in the LGBTQ+ community feeling afraid, but in Tallahassee, some see that fear as a reason to rally together.

"Given the legislation that we have going on where there is so much fear and hatred and vitriol that’s being geared against us and also I think that people who garner that fear are hating themselves. So I think it’s important that as a community to show that we’re not afraid,” says Z at the Queer Maker's Market.

Many of the people interviewed for this story did not provide their last names or used nicknames because they didn’t want to be targeted for speaking out on issues they say have become controversial.

Z says, “We're going to be here whether or not you like it, whether or not your religion says that you should be hating us. It doesn't matter, we're gonna keep showing up."

Tali is a local artist who sells jewelry and other handmade crafts through her business, Tali Galaxy. She has attended the Queer Makers Market several times before. Tali says while she feels her community is under attack, she thinks it’s important to stay visible and to be proud of who she is.

“Pride is so important right now because there are a lot of people that want to make us out to be a community of hatred when we’re a community of love so if you come to these events you will see the love we have for literally everyone. We just wanna live! That’s all we want to do,” says Tali.

Maxx Fenning is the founder of Prism Florida, a youth-based LGBTQ+ group that focuses on sexual health and education. He says the idea of Pride has been around for decades and that the LGBTQ+ community has long-faced hatred. Fenning stays the community has used events like the Queer Makers Market to gather support, celebrate who they are, and push back on hate.

“One thing history tells us is the capacity of our community to coalesce in crisis," he says. "Time and time again we face the same battles we had faced in previous chapters of that history and time and time again we are able to coalesce in crisis and able to come out on top or able to prevail despite the odds” 

As the next legislative session approaches LGBTQ+ community members say they will continue to express their pride and support one another.

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Alexandra Dresner