During Pride in June 2003, the iconic Key West rainbow flag stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean in a sea-to-sea display of pride and unity. ANDY NEWMAN/Florida Keys News Bureau

Key West’s Sea-to-Sea Rainbow Flag stretched along the 1.25-mile length of Duval Street in June 2003, weighed 6,000 pounds and involved 2,000 volunteers to create, then carry it from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean.

This year’s Key West Pride celebration marks the 20th anniversary of the great unfurling that drew global media coverage and cast a vibrant hue on the street beneath the rainbow fabric.

The island’s Pride celebration, presented by the Key West Business Guild, takes place June 7-11, with scores of events, daily activities and special presentations.

Pride 2023’s highlight will be a three-night laser light show that re-creates the sea-to-sea flag above Duval Street, with its colors once again stretching the nearly 1.25-mile length of the renowned thoroughfare. From 8 to 10 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, June 9, 10 and 11, visitors can walk “under the rainbow” to express their support for diversity, equality and acceptance.

Other events include a local bartender competition at the Bourbon Street Pub, 724 Duval St.; an outdoor screening of the documentary “Key West: City of Colors” in the 800 block of Duval Street; an all-day street fair on Saturday, June 10,  followed by a disco party and dancing on Duval; the Big Gay 5k challenge for fitness buffs; and a traditional tea dance at La Te Da, 1125 Duval St. 

A 100-foot section of the 2003 flag will take center stage in the 2023 Pride Parade through Key West’s historic downtown, beginning at 5 p.m. on Sunday, June 11. Spectators can view the all-welcome procession that features colorful walking groups and lavishly decorated floats, streetside or from clubs, bars and restaurants along the route.

In the official Pride program guide this year, Key West Mayor Teri Johnston writes a letter welcoming all to the island’s Pride.

“Key West remains a beacon of hope and humanity for the LGBTQIA+ community and we welcome you onto the island with open arms,” Johnston writes. “We continue to resist the hate, discrimination and intolerance of those who choose not to live by our ‘One Human Family’ philosophy. You will feel a difference when you cross the bridge into Key West, a vibe that we can’t describe, but never want to lose. Countless locals will work tirelessly to make sure this is the best experience of your life. Please acknowledge them and their dedication to keeping Key West the premier destination for the LGBTQIA+ community. Relax, laugh, engage and enjoy all that Key West has to offer, and most of all…be proud.”

See you under the rainbow, Key West. 

Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.