If you had told Ronnie and Jennifer five decades ago that they’d be here, surrounded by love at a Pride festival, they wouldn’t have believed you.
“Look around. This is awesome. Here in Naples, this is fabulous,” Ronnie Bellone said.
The pair got married 50 years ago before gay marriage was even considered legal.
“It wasn’t accepted. Fitting in, not holding hands and not giving each other a kiss like you would if you were married to a man,” Jennifer Rainey said.
“So we were. It was a commitment to each other. I was more in the closet than she was. She had a picture of me on her desk since the beginning,” Bellone said.
The Pride flags and the smiling faces of people of all ages and walks of life bring Bellone and Rainey hope, along with so many others in Naples.
“Just because they’re different doesn’t mean that they should be treated differently,” Connor said.
“Love God, Love your neighbor. Love yourself. Nowhere does it say your neighbor only means this little bit of people, right? Your neighbor’s everybody,” Reverend Craig Cranston said.
While Naples Pride dates back to 2017, the 2023 celebration may look a little different. The drag show will take place indoors at the Norris Center instead of Cambier Park.
This change is because of a new Florida law that prohibits anyone from knowingly admitting a child to an adult live performance. The drag show will only be open to those 18 or older.