- Gallery | Miami Beach Gay Pride 2010
BY STEVE ROTHAUS and JOSE CASSOLA, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
Last year, the Miami Beach Gay Pride committee conservatively planned for 5,000 attendees and 20,000 showed up. This year, organizers estimate at least 30,000 revelers joined the second annual gay pride festival on Ocean Drive.
“It was more people, more flamboyance,'' said Ivette Sierra of Miami, who attended again this year with her partner, Nilda Diaz.
The parade and festival celebrate gender rights and sexual equality. Riding in classic cars and on flatbed trucks, those in the parade led a colorful procession from Fifth to 14th streets under sometimes cloudy skies.
Choi, the son of a Baptist minister, said he spent 10 years as a closeted gay soldier before outing himself in March 2009 on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show.
Joining him was Emmy- and Golden Globe-winner Sharon Gless of Fisher Island, a lesbian icon for TV's Cagney & Lacey and gay icon for Queer as Folk. They rode in a vintage Rolls Royce along Ocean Drive.
Nimon Sinanovic, from New York for the weekend, said he was happily surprised by gay pride, South Beach style. He and his partner, Andy Robinson, enjoyed the parade but did notice differences from similar ones in New York.
“This was very G-rated, unlike the parades in [New York],'' Sinanovic said. It was cute, though. For someone not expecting to find anything like this here, it was quite an eventful time to celebrate and show our pride.''
Robinson said attending the pride festival this weekend is especially meaningful after President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered that gays and lesbians would have full visitation and decision-making rights at Medicaid- and Medicare-funded hospitals.
“You wouldn't deny that right to heterosexual couples,'' Robinson said. “We are due the same liberties because we pay taxes like everyone else.''
Before the parade, about 3,000 people marched in Care Resource's annual AIDS Walk Miami in South Beach. The walk traditionally has been done mid-April on Sunday mornings, but this year organizers switched to Saturday because of the pride festival.
As a result, more gay people participated in this year's walk, Care Resource spokesman Christopher Donahue said.
One gay AIDS Walk participant had a particularly appropriate name: Jody Pride of Coral Gables. After the walk, Pride attended the parade and festival.
“You get weirder people here. More eccentric. That is good,'' Lequerica said. It's about time that Miami got an event.''
Before last year's festival, it had been more than a decade since any group celebrated gay pride on a large scale in Miami-Dade County.
Saturday's event has a long list of public and private sponsors, including the city of Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, Macy's, Belvedere Vodka and Wachovia.
Parade organizers displayed the Key West Rainbow Flag, a 100-foot piece of the flag created by the gay Key West GLBT Community Center. It was originally 1¼ miles long and contained 25 miles of seams before being broken up and donated to several lesbian and gay organizations across the country.
The parade included more than two dozen gay and lesbian couples who have been in committed relationships for two decades or longer. One couple, George Volpe and Peter Santangelo, has been together for 66 years.
Many children attended the festival, too, including Dania Valdes, 12, of Miami.
“It was fun. People supporting other people,'' she said. “I was in the parade. It was cool.''
Top photo: Key West Rainbow Flag by STEVE ROTHAUS / Miami Herald Staff
Second: Actress Sharon Gless, left; and Lt. Dan Choi are the grand marshals.
Third: Holding their dog "Rico, " a chiuahua-poodle mix, Julia Larson, left; and Lela Gonzalez of Miami Beach enjoy watching the parade.
Fourth: Dressed as Dorothy from "The Wizard of Oz," Pierce Withers, youth minister of Coral Gables Congregational Church, walks with Gus the dog and Mario Landera, dressed as the Tin Man, in the second annual Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade.
Bottom: The Macy’s Pride + Joy float features models scantily clad in bold fashions. The float was among more than 60 in the second annual Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade.
All other photos by MARSHA HALPER / Miami Herald Staff