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200,000 people showed up for Orlando Pride in defiant middle finger to Ron DeSantis

Marchers cheer during the Come Out With Pride Parade
Marchers cheer during the Come Out With Pride Parade in downtown Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 15, 2022, as thousands line the streets for the annual event supporting inclusion. Photo: (Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Over 200,000 people showed up for Orlando Pride over the weekend, as an 11-year-old transgender girl led the parade as Grand Marshal.

The event was seen as a way to push back against Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ (R) ongoing campaign of discrimination and persecution of the LGBTQ+ community.

Dubbed the “Come Out With Pride” celebration, the revelers crowded around Lake Eola. Local news reports that “a sea of people” filled the streets around the lake to watch “the Most Colorful Parade” in the state.

Dempsey Jara, the parade’s figurehead, was the youngest Grand Marshall in the event’s history. She waved and blew kisses from the front seat of a convertible, wearing heart-shaped pink sunglasses and a floral dress, with a puppy on her lap.

“Being transgender is not about a choice,” she told local media before the event. “It’s about being true to myself. It’s about embracing who I am even when the world tries to tell me otherwise.”

“It’s about standing tall in my identity even when it’s really hard.”

“She’s been on this journey since she was five and she’s living her best life,” her mother told the Orlando Sentinel.

“She’s just always gravitated toward girl things, girls’ toys. She’d say, ‘I’m a girl in my heart and my brain’.”

In Florida’s politically charged climate, her parents were accused of “child abuse” for supporting their daughter.

“Yesterday was the best day of my life! It’s not easy to be a constant target of hate, but I remain visible because I want other Trans kids to know there is such #joy in being your authentic self,” Dempsey posted on Instagram following the parade. “Thank you, Orlando, for showering me with so much love!”

Her parents oversee the social media account.

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