The Florida Department of Transportation may have denied a City of Sarasota request to illuminate the John Ringling Causeway in rainbow colors in recognition of Pride Month, but Sarasota Mayor Hagen Brody says he is "optimistic" that the bridge lighting may eventually take place.
“I made the request in May to have the bridge lit up for June in honor of Pride Month,” says Brody. “The request was initially denied based on the premise that it didn’t meet FDOT guidelines.”
Brody says he doesn't want to speculate on the rationale behind the denial, but is instead focused on finding a way forward. There are still “continuing conversations on a state level,” according to Brody. He says he is “optimistic and hopeful that we can have the bridge lit up for the remainder of Pride Month.”
The city of Jacksonville faced a similar setback, but the city's Acosta Bridge is now rainbow-colored. “Each region has a secretary that makes the final call on the requests in the region,” says Brody, explaining why Jacksonville's request was approved and Sarasota's was not. “We think that this request is a reasonable one, and we hope that they are flexible enough to allow it."
In an email, Florida Department of Transportation communications specialist Brian Rick writes that the department "is continuing to work with the city to accommodate and ensure broad community interest through a local resolution/proclamation," and that special lighting requests are "handled ... consistently, fairly and impartially."
Rick notes that other organizations have had their requests denied for similar reasons, as well.
The bridge request is one of many ways Sarasota's LGBTQ community is being recognized this month. Brody signed an official proclamation recognizing the month of June as Pride Month on June 7. He sees illuminating the bridge as an opportunity to show appreciation for diversity and a recommitment to inclusion.
“The LGBTQ community is a valuable and appreciated part of Sarasota and the contributions that this community have made are significant and ongoing," says Brody. "Showing our appreciation for them and for our diversity is important.”