Locals Light Up Bridge In Florida After Ron DeSantis Blocks Pride Displays

Locals Light Up Bridge In Florida After Ron DeSantis Blocks Pride Displays

Attempts by Ron DeSantis to prevent rainbow Pride displays on state bridges this month have been countered by an out and proud LGBTQ+ community in Florida.

The veiled attempt to limit the flying of the Pride colors was announced by Florida Transportation Secretary James Perdue. Instead, the state will display patriotic colors on bridges as part of Florida’s new “Freedom Summer,” between May 27 and September 2. 

According to The Washington Post, the phrase “Freedom Summer” originates from a civil rights effort to register black voters in Mississippi, DeSantis has completely removed any civil rights notion from the phrase with his “Freedom Summer,” which now refers to a portion of the summer in which Florida residents will get a tax break on purchasing certain items.

Also part of the DeSantis “freedom summer” is the restriction of Pride displays, by overshadowing them with patriotic demonstrations, enshrouding bridges in red, white and blue from Memorial Day to Labor Day. However, one LGBTQ Floridian, Matt McAllister, took matters into his own hands, according to The Advocate. In a short span of time, McAllister organized 70 people to light up the Main Street Bridge over the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida. 

After hearing the news of bridges throughout the state being void of pride colors this year, McAllister reached out to a friend of his in Orlando, Andy Greene, CEO of MyRadar to obtain $1,500-worth of high-intensity flashlights. Then with the advice of friends working in theater production, he knew how to use lighting gels to make the flashlights project the colors of the rainbow. Soon McAllister and friends were brainstorming what bridge to display their pride on and landed on the Main Street Bridge, which isn’t state managed.

“Our goal wasn’t to wash out the red, white and blue, but to complement it,” he told The Advocate. “The whole idea is that freedom and diversity can only exist within the confines of each other. Without freedom, diversity cannot exist. And without diversity, freedom is an abstract idea that cannot be practiced.” 

After getting the word out via social media, McAllister’s vision became a success. He hopes the effort will inspire people throughout the state and around the country to display Pride in their own way. 

“I would think the DeSantis administration ought to be handing us an award for the first mass example of freedom in Freedom Summer,” he told The Advocate.

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