It all seemed like fun and games at a Pride festival in southwest Florida over the weekend.
Then, someone broke out the dildos.
According to the conservative social media account Libs of Tik Tok, a city-supported Pride festival in Venice — which was billed as community-oriented, “celebratory,” and fun for “all ages” to include a section called the “Kids Korner” — offered a ring-toss game that featured colorful, inflatable sex toys shaped by large male genitalia.
Libs of Tik Tok noted that the ring-toss game was sponsored by CAN Community Health, a Sarasota-based nonprofit that has served the local HIV community for three decades.
“Did you know that rainbow dildo ring toss for kids was necessary for HIV prevention and treatment? Neither did we!” Libs of Tik Tok posted.
The social media account pointed out that such sex toys were also part of a CAN Community Health display at a Pride event in Phoenix.
The Blaze, which picked up the story, posted a photo of a drag queen and other performers singing at the festival, including two men who appear to be wearing only their underwear briefs and stiletto heels.
Although the city owned the downtown park that served as the venue and promoted the festival on its website, officials tried to distance themselves from responsibility for the debacle.
According to WWSB, the local ABC affiliate, city officials on Tuesday posted a series of tweets, noting among them that the festival “was not a City sponsored or hosted event.”
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“The City was very disappointed to learn that some of the actual event activities did not align with the approved event description. The City of Venice was not informed of and did not approve the details of these activities,” the statement said.
WWSB also obtained a statement from a CAN spokesman who maintained the dildo display “was meant as an icebreaker to discuss safe-sex practices.”
“Roger Capote, CAN’s vice president of marketing, also told ABC7 his organization did not know the event was being billed as ‘family friendly.’ Had they known that, they would have brought a different activity to display,” WWSB noted.
“We do apologize for any way that it was misconstrued,” Capote said.
“Unfortunately, there are a lot of false accusations being made out in the community of what we were doing, but the activities we do provide and the services we provide are geared toward adults.”
In its post, Libs of Tik Tok noted, “It started out with freedom to love whomever you wanted. ‘Love is love.’ Then it was more ‘representation’ and half-naked kink parades. Now, it’s drag queen story hour in elementary schools, kid drag shows, and dildo ring toss. We’re so far down the slippery slope. Are we finally allowed to call this grooming?”
One Twitter user, with the account name Alexandria Brown, posted, “As an Official Queer, let me clear this up. It is inappropriate to sell sex toys at an event where children will be. It is super inappropriate to have a ring toss onto a dildo. You’re welcome.”
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