A single social media post can do a whole lot of good. For the entire month of June, a mural by Joey Salamon can be found in Sarasota's University Town Center district. Each time you post a picture of the mural and tag "@utcsarasota" on social media, the shopping and dining district will donate $1 to Project Pride, an organization that supports the LGBTQ community in Sarasota.
“Our goal really circulates around three words: uniting, supporting and celebrating the LGBTQ community in Sarasota,” says Project Pride president Jordan Letschert. “We found a niche we could fill on the visibility side, working with the city and the businesses in Sarasota to highlight the LGBTQ community.” Focusing on visibility, Project Pride aims to make the community a more welcoming space year-round.
Project Pride was founded in 2019, but has already accomplished a lot. The organization worked to get the City of Sarasota to officially recognize June as pride month for the first time in the city’s history. To celebrate, a pride flag was flown at city hall and the building was lit up in rainbow colors for the very first time, says Letschert. The city of Sarasota was also hoping to light up the John Ringling Causeway with rainbow lights, but the request was denied by the Florida Department of Transportation.
The University Town Center mural features Salamon’s signature style of bright colors and geometric patterns. Visitors may notice that the mural is decorated with more than the standard six-color rainbow.
“We added in the colors of the progress pride flag, which has black and brown, which signifies more inclusiveness,” says Salamon. “It’s so much fun to use even more colors, and it’s cool for people to see themselves represented.” Salamon says he hopes his mural “takes [viewers] away from any stress” and that anyone looking at it will “be able to have a happy little moment.”
Salamon, who lives in Michigan, created the mural without actually coming to Florida. He painted the mural digitally and sent the work to staff at University Town Center, who blew it up into the exhibit that currently stands.
This is the second mural Salamon has done in coordination with Project Pride. He also painted a street mural on Cocoanut and Pineapple Avenues.
Letschert says funds raised from the mural will benefit the entire community, but especially schools. Project Pride wants to “help supplement diversity, providing diverse speakers or providing funds—whatever it might to be help expand the diversity in schools, to create good little human beings.” Project Pride gives funds to local Gay Straight Alliances and organizers of LGBTQ proms, and works closely with Dr. Harriet Moore, Sarasota County Schools' first director of innovation and equity.