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Miami Beach Gay Pride 2010: 'More people, more flamboyance'

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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.

grands18_pride_DADE_MSH Leading the way as co-grand marshal was 29-year-old U.S. Army Lt. Dan Choi, who last month chained himself to a White House fence to protest the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell'' policy.

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.''

doggie18_pride_DADE_MSH 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.

oz18_pride_DADE_MSH Anuar Andres Lequerica, a grad student at University of Chicago, came home to visit his parents this weekend and attend the festival. He compared pride in Chicago and Miami Beach:

“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.''

macys18_pride_DADE_MSH

Captions:

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

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why isn't it in June when the other Gay Pride festivals take place around the country?

June is hot in south fl, april is much more pleasant

wuh happen

I loved that it was held on the same day as Miami AIDS Walk 2010! I finished the walk and had brunch along the parade route, it was a wonderful day.

Get rid of this pervert's column in our local paper. Let him and his readers get this vile information from the porno magazines that they frequent which are safe from our children in their plastic wrap.

Oh Juan, you know you love it! No doubt you lapped up every word of this article. Don't make me come into that closet and drag you out!!!

pretty gross...the whole thing just reeks of perverts and gay pedophiles...wish they would keep their sexuality to themselves,just like straight people do...you don't see a straight pride parade....just do whatever disgusting things you do in the privacy of your homes...absolutely disgusting!

I just want to share with you some pictures from the "Gay Parade"

for more photos visit:

http://www.angelmiguelphotography.blogspot.com/

Cheers,
Angel Miguel

@ Juan and yucketty yuck: you are truly ignorant.

Hey why don't you post some financial information on this event so that Juan and yucketty yuck can shut up. Almost all of the hotels on south beach were booked and all the stores, restaurants and bars were packed. All I can says is that it was good for our economy. These Gays have lots of money and they don't seem to be affected by the recession. I love it I think it's time to open our minds and move up to 2010. These people are just like everyone else but with money.. lol Let them live how every the see fit. oh and for all you people that see this as wrong just pray that your kids don't turn out to be gay. Peace!!!

It was a great event....lots of love and unity. Nothing gross about it--Juan and yucketty yuck, get a life you repressed, self righteous morons.

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