BY STEVE ROTHAUS, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
“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.”