With respect ingrained as one of the city’s values, Sarasota is a community committed to encouraging diversity in all its forms. Originally home to Native Americans who settled around 10,000 years ago, the land which is now known as Sarasota was discovered by the Spanish in 1513. Spanish maps referred to the area as “Zarazote,” which newcomers soon morphed to “Sara Sota.”
Many colonists arrived from Scotland in the 1800s, including John Hamilton Gillespie, who came to Florida to assist with managing the Florida Mortgage and Investment Company. He was later elected the first Mayor of Sarasota. He is credited with introducing Florida to the game of golf.
Present-day Sarasota visitors can enjoy a walk at sunset at Sarasota’s Bayfront Park which is in walking distance to several gay-friendly bars.Sarasota is also home to the Harvey Milk Festival, a coalescence of visual and performance art, dance and music to uplift the LGBTQ+ community. Taking place each May, the festival honors the legacy of its namesake, Harvey Milk, the United States’ first openly-gay elected official.
Sarasota Pride in the Park is another exciting annual celebration held in Sarasota and organized by Sarasota Pride, Inc.