KindRED Pride Foundation Launching Global LGBTQ Solidarity Movement During Pride Month

In the lead up to Pride month this year, a quick glance at what is happening with regard to legislative discrimination toward the LGBTQIA+ community makes us realize how much more important it is to highlight, amplify and celebrate queer voices and initiatives. Standing on the sidelines is no longer an option. Whether it is speaking up against book bans that seek to silence queer stories, the attacks on trans youth athletes in schools, or laws like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that has rightly angered many across the country, it is a reminder that winning some battles for equality are no reason to take leave from the overall fight.

There are numerous ways to get involved and be an ally. Organizations like the KindRED Pride Foundation want many people to show their support, and have created a fun, celebratory way of doing this. The Foundation is launching a global movement for the first Saturday of June each year where all LGBTQ+ individuals and allies wear a red shirt not only in celebration of Pride Month but as well as a message of “KindRED” spirit. Their mission is to get 1 million people around the world to wear red on the first Saturday of Pride month.

The link between red and Pride originated in 1991 when Disney cast members and the Central Florida LGBT Community decided to meet socially on the first Saturday in June in front of the Castle at Magic Kingdom. They wore red t-shirts as an expression of pride and to identify their “kindred spirits” since they had only met on a bulletin board and never in person. The KindRED Pride Foundation was inspired by the desire to expand the magic created by those who bravely participated in the original ‘Gay and Lesbian Day at Magic Kingdom.

Red is also the first color of the rainbow flag and stands as a symbol of life and passion. In the spirit of allyship, we got to have a conversation with Alison Burgos, co-founder and Vice President of the KindRED Pride Foundation, to learn more about the Red Shirt Challenge, her own personal story, and why it is important for all of us to take a stand against the attacks toward the LGBTQIA+ community.

KindRED Pride – Take the RED Shirt Challenge Video from Kindred Pride Foundation on Vimeo.

Can you first tell us how the KindRED Pride Foundation was founded? 

The KindRED Pride Foundation was inspired by the desire to expand the magic created by the 30-year tradition of the original “Gay Day at Magic Kingdom” in Orlando. The event started with just a handful of people who decided they would meet socially on the first Saturday in June in front of the castle. They would all wear RED t-shirts to identify each other since they had only met on a bulletin board and never in person.

Why is the color red the focus in this new campaign? 

We chose red because that was the color that was chosen 30 years ago and has been traditionally identified during Gay Disney for all these years. Now we have created a way for people to participate near and far. 

The first Saturday of Pride Month is the start of a new campaign for the Foundation. Can you tell us what the campaign is all about?

As revelers descend on Orlando the first weekend of June and where their red shirt to the theme parks we thought we would create a way for people to participate from around the world and also create a way for like-minded non-profits to raise awareness and funds. Our online store enables non-profits of all sizes to participate in the RED Shirt Around the World initiative. They just upload their logo and share their unique link with their world, a portion of proceeds go to their organization and a portion goes to Kindred Pride.  

The fact that the color red became a Pride color among the LGBTQ community in Florida feels quite important, given the attacks we are seeing on Queer folks in the state by the Governor right now. How are you working with LGBTQ leaders there right now? 

It is an important time for our community, especially in Florida. We are being attacked and our rights are being challenged on every front. Now more than ever we must stand-up and ask our friends and families to stand with us. 

We work to support the many organizations working to secure and defend our rights and provide safe spaces for our community. Some of those non-profits include: One Pulse Foundation, The LGBT Center Orlando, and the Orlando Youth Center. 

Although it is 2023, equal marriage was legalized in 2015, and the fear of coming out isn’t what it used to be, the LGBTQ community is still under attack in many ways. Why is it still important for everyone to speak out and take a stand against the bigotry and homophobia? 

I believe that our culture has become more accepting of bigotry and hate and our community is one that has been targeted. We have seen a rise of hate crimes towards the lgbtq+ community as well as politicians targeting our community and working to take away our rights and remove access to basic needs including health care and support of the transgender community. It is imperative for us to stand up against these attacks or our rights will be stripped away and many lives will be harmed.

Can you tell us more about your personal story, and why you wanted to dedicate your career to supporting other LGBTQ folks? 

I came out in Washington DC and hosted my first charity event there, when I moved back to South Florida I started volunteering for the GLCC and caught the bug for community engagement and creating safe spaces for LGBTQ women to meet and have fun.

For the past 22 years that has been my passion and mission from founding Aqua Girl to sitting on boards and committees for numerous LGBTQ local and national organizations to building events and destination experience like Girls In Wonderland with my partners Amy and Yesi, its been incredibly rewarding, sometimes exhausting but always fun. 

For people in Florida who are listening to the bigotry coming from the Governor’s office, what message do you have and what do you want people to know about your community in response? 

Use your voice, your vote and your money to stand for what you believe. Everyone deserves the right to live safely and with equality. 

What does Pride month mean to you this year, and how can people get involved in the Red Shirt Challenge?  

Pride month is my favorite time of year, where we all come together to celebrate and connect. The Red Shirt Challenge is a great way to support our community and you can do it from anywhere just visit and take the pledge.

Engaging that connection and firing up that grassroot outreach via social media, the KindRED Pride Foundation is inviting people throughout the world to organically join the movement by posting an image and/or a video of themselves wearing red using the hashtags #REDshirtchallenge, #TaketheREDshirtchallenge and #RSPD. The first Saturday of June will now be RED Shirt Pride Day Around the World. Learn more about the initiative HERE.

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