Sarasota has long been known as Florida's "Cultural Coast," where artists, musicians, writers, and free thinkers have congregated in a close-knit community that celebrates art, life, and diversity. What many outsiders don't know is that Sarasota also has a very large and socially active LGBT community.
When it comes to choosing a city or even a neighborhood in which to purchase a home, a vibrant art scene, world-renowned beaches, and a friendly, walkable downtown are certainly appealing. However, a prime goal for anyone is to live in a safe, friendly, and accepting environment. What makes Sarasota so appealing to LGBT homebuyers is it offers just that.
“Sarasota is a place I'm proud to call my home,” says Shannon Fortner, lead singer of the band MeteorEYES. “With a supportive community we can continue to grow and promote equality as a whole, by embracing the LGBTQ community.”
Fortner is also the founder of one of Sarasota's largest LGBT events, the Harvey Milk Festival. Held every May, the three day long festival celebrates equality, diversity, and the life of the festival's namesake, a visionary activist and openly gay politician. The festival incorporates not only music from local and national bands supportive of LGBT rights, but also an LGBT-oriented art show and film festival.
Every October, Sarasota celebrates its diversity with another festival, Sarasota Gay Pride. This week-long celebration features a pride walk, parties, bands, movies, book signings, and much more. The week ends with Pridefest, a family-friendly day of bands, entertainment, and vendors that draws an attendance as high as 5,000 people. 2014 will be the 25th year of Pridefest, which illustrates the long-standing progressive attitudes of Sarasota.
Many of the after-parties of the above events take place at Throb, a local venue that caters to a diverse clientele and is known for its late night dance parties, drag shows, and specialty nights. Located in a repurposed warehouse, the club has one of the biggest dance floors around and the atmosphere of a New York dance club.
“SRQ is a gay-friendly, progressive city with special appeal to lovers of the arts,” explains Anthony Paull, Sarasota resident and NPR-recognized author of Outtakes Of A Walking Mistake, a coming-of-age novel about a gay high school student. “Downtown bars and clubs offer an eclectic list of options for an active queer nightlife, and LGBTQ events like Harvey Milk Festival attract gay and straight equality advocates alike.”
Paull, who is also a recognized filmmaker, helps put on the Fabulous Independent Film Festival. The three day long film fest features some of the newest and most critically-acclaimed LGBT films out there.
Probably the greatest indicator of Sarasota's support of the LGBT community came right from the local government. “Sarasota recently passed a Domestic Partnership Registry, thanks to those in our community who continue to raise awareness,” Fortner explains. “We are a growing city and making strides in the movement.”
Looking past the beaches, downtown, and other highly-publicized amenities, you will find that Sarasota, FL is a community that not just welcomes, but embraces LGBT residents.
Questions about living in Sarasota? Get the scoop from a real estate pro! Get in touch with Julian directly via the Sarasota Property Finders Contact Page.
Sarasota Area Real Estate Specialist