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Gay Iraq War veteran and journalist Rob Smith to lead Key West Pride parade in June

News release from the Florida Keys:

KEY WEST, Florida Keys -- Splashy pool parties and on-the-water adventures, late-night dance parties, a race for tutu-wearing competitors, an intriguing film premiere and a lively community parade are among the attractions during Key West Pride 2014. Set for Wednesday through Sunday, June 11-15, the festival spotlights the all-accepting diversity that has helped make Key West an internationally renowned gay and lesbian vacation spot.

Key West Pride is to kick off with an all-welcome "Bow Ties & Bubbly" bash set for 5 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at the acclaimed Island House Resort, 1129 Fleming St.

During the festival competitive attendees can vie for the titles of Mr., Ms. and Miss Key West Pride at evening pageants, or dress in a tutu to race in a wacky 10k relay. Other festival attractions include an acclaimed trolley tour showcasing Key West's LGBT heritage and hotspots, a marriage equality "meet and greet," daytime and late-night parties at local clubs and resorts, a "Ghosts & Gravestones" tour spotlighting the island's spookiest sites, drag shows, a street fair on Key West's famed Duval Street, a shopping soiree and water-sports activities ranging from snorkeling to kayaking.

Among scheduled highlights is the Key West premiere of a film by activist Erin Davies. After her Volkswagen Beetle was defaced with anti-gay graffiti because of its rainbow sticker, she turned the negative act into an inspiring odyssey and filmed her "fag bug's" journey to all 50 United States. Pride attendees can view the resulting documentary, "Fag Bug Nation," meet Davies and learn how her rainbow vehicle has become a catalyst for equality. Events are set for 8 p.m. Saturday, June 14, poolside at Alexander's Guesthouse, 1118 Fleming St.

The festival's culmination is to be the all-welcome Pride Parade down Duval Street, scheduled at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 15. The procession's grand marshal is Rob Smith, an openly gay Iraq War veteran, LGBT activist, journalist and author of the memoir "Closets, Combat, and Coming Out: Coming of Age as a Gay Man in the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell Army."

The parade typically features walking groups, a 100-foot rainbow flag, lavishly decorated floats and more. Everyone is invited to participate -- whether gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight or transgendered -- to celebrate Key West's enthusiastic diversity.

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