There have been some great strides made for equality over the last year in Southwest Florida.

The first Pride was celebrated in Naples last year with more than 5,000 people attending the inaugural event. The event raised more than $20,000 to establish a new LGBTQ Emergency Fund. The fund provides temporary financial support for anyone in the LGBTQ community facing an emergency situation such as suddenly
finding themselves homeless or an emergency medical need.

While the Emergency Fund provides one-time temporary help, the individuals in need are referred to agencies where they can find a more permanent solution.

A Task Force was established by Naples Pride to oversee the emergency fund and to bring together people across the community to help address issues and needs facing the LGBTQ community.

Another LGBTQ Fund is continuing to expand its reach throughout Southwest Florida. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation started the LGBTQ Community Fund a couple years ago and has awarded grants to two non-profits addressing issues including suicide prevention and elder care. It has also become very involved in various community events that support equality. This year, the group is sponsoring a VIP tent at Naples Pride.

The business community has become more proactive in promoting equality as well. The Southwest Florida Harmony Chamber of Commerce celebrated its one year anniversary in May 2018.

The Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention & Visitors Bureau recently launched a campaign to attract more LGBTQ visitors to Collier County. There will be same-sex couples included in advertising. The CVB has created a staff position to oversee the effort.

More information about most of these efforts is included in this edition of the Rainbow Pages. You can also read more at rainbowpagesswfl.com.

— Michelle Hudson, publisher

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