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Longtime same-sex couples parade along Ocean Drive for Miami Beach Gay Pride festival

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@miamiherald.com

Despite floats filled with gorgeous young men and women in skimpy costumes and swimsuits, the big highlight Saturday at the third-annual Miami Beach Gay Pride festival: a parade of vintage cars carrying four-dozen mature, fully dressed, same-sex couples together for decades.

“It’s excellent for all of us to get together, so the whole community can see we’re just like them,” said Greg Griffin, 46, a marketer who walked in the parade with publicist Richard Murry, 51, his partner of 23 years. “It’s great to see our straight friends here today. The whole world can see we have friends and families, along with everyone else.”

In two years, the four-day Beach festival has become the Big Mama of South Florida gay pride parties. The 2011 parade with 60 entries and floats lasted 90 minutes as it stretched from 5th to 12th streets along Ocean Drive. Floats represented dozens of local businesses and gay groups from throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

“I love it,” said Facundo Yebne, 32, a member of the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce who represents hotels and apartments in Miami, Buenos Aires and New York City. “Everybody’s having fun, people from all over the world.”

More than any other gay celebration in South Florida, the Miami Beach pride festival — which doesn’t charge admission to the big Ocean Drive party — represents the area’s vast diversity: men, women, transgender people; lesbian, gay, bisexual and straight; people of different colors, religions and ethnicities; young, middle age and old.

Murry said he and Griffin decided not to ride in the parade and instead march with the LGBT teens from Pridelines Youth Services in Miami Shores.

“It’s a way to show the kids that long-term committed relationships are real and are possible,” said Murry, a Pridelines board member. “They love it. They are all into it. We get a lot of questions, like ‘How to make a relationship work? I just broke up with my boyfriend of three weeks.’”

The long-term “Legacy Couples”, as they are called by festival organizers, have been featured in the parade since its 2009 inception.

Alex Febres, an 18-year-old Miami Dade College student and member of Pridelines, said that watching the pairs in the parade “was really cute.”

“It was beautiful to see all those couples who have lasted so long,” Febres said.

Sherry Roberts, 64, and Alice Randolph, 62, are partners for 28 years. Together they raised three sons.

“We had three children,” Roberts said. “Alice has two boys, 41 and 36. They are married with two children each. My son is 40 and he’s been with his partner for a little over three years.”

Roberts jokes that she and Randolph “stayed together in spite of the kids, not because of the kids.”

“It’s tough combining any two families, let alone a gay family,” she said. “We lived in a very small village in Ohio and it made it even more difficult. But the kids always referred to us as ‘the moms.’ They’d always say, ‘We have to ask the moms.’ It’s just a great family we have. The three boys think of themselves as brothers and that’s how they introduce themselves.”

Roberts said she and Randolph have never before been in a gay pride parade.

“When we were asked to participate in this parade a few years ago I was a little leery. They assured us it would be a family affair and that’s what it’s been,” she said. “I get a little teary when I say it: Being in this parade, it’s been our pleasure and our honor. We see the young people and what it means to them.”

Chuck Hunziker, 78, and Bob Collier, 76, of Fort Lauderdale, have been partners for 48 years.

“We met at a gay beach in Brooklyn on July 4, 1963,” he said. “Fireworks. That’s how we remember our anniversary date.”

Both military veterans, Hunziker said he and Collier “want to be role models for kids starting out today.”

“They might not seem hopeful of having a lasting relationship. It is possible,” Hunziker said.

Said Collier: “A lot of [the kids] joke that we’ve been together longer than they’ve been alive,” adding that his straight brother has been married four times. “I’m the more stable one in my marriage.”

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Dear Steve,
I am thrilled that you did this article. It is so heartwarming and encouraging for all to see. I love that you featured these diverse, wonderful couples. It is also great that there was a "tie in" with the LGBT youth. I have always said that there is so much wisdom in the "mature" members of our community. They can give such sage advice on so many aspects of living our lives. They also represent all that our community has gone through over the decades. Our mature gay couples are probably our most valuable asset, in our quest for equality. I am "over the moon" with joy that this was a part of the Miami Pride parade....I hope that we will see more and more of this, as we continue to fight for marriage equality! Steve I send you love and best wishes for being such a great man!
Max
P.S. We will be doing some Immigration Equality for same sex binational couples events in the "tri-county" area, as we move forward. Our next "meet and greet" will be at the New Moon Bar in Ft. Lauderdale on Thursday, April 21st at 7:30pm...

Steve

I am thrilled to read the article of Miami Pride that is boasting the Legacy Couples -- those that have fought for the same civil rights as all parties in our community. We all want to be able to live and love those who are in our lives. The Legacy Couples are a demonstration of those people who are willing to make the sacrifice to be part of the community as they trail blaze for the rest of us.

Best
Richard Milstein

Hey Steve, dont know if u remember me but we spoke a few years ago about Homestead's lack of gay friendly atmosphere. I am proud to say that a new restaraunt Bar has opened named Gregory's. They have gay night on Tues. nights from 11-??. Hope u r well. Also, Idont remeber how to read the blog. Lil help would be nice.

Steve,
Thanks for the great article. It was an exhilarating and joyous experience for Chuck and I and all those who participated in the Miami Beach Pride event.We had such positive feedback from everyone we met, and especially the young people, both gay and straight.Special thanks to your young and energetic photographer for all her wonderful photos. This was our third year as a legacy couple and we're already looking forward to next year! Thanks again for a job well done.
Bob and Chuck

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