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Thousands 'out of the woodwork' for Wilton Manors' Stonewall Street Festival and Parade

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Click photo to view a gallery. Photos by STEVE ROTHAUS / Miami Herald Staff

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Even a constant rain on her gay-pride parade couldn’t dampen Michelle Madonia’s spirits.

“There will be no more rain! I’m not worried about it all. I came prepared,” said Madonia, of Fort Lauderdale, showing off an oversize rainbow umbrella at Sunday’s 12th annual Stonewall Street Festival and Parade in Wilton Manors.

About 25,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender festival-goers, and straight allies, were expected along the parade route, which shut down Wilton Drive for a half-mile through the Central Broward city’s shopping district. This year’s grand marshal: Thomas Roberts, MSNBC’s 11 a.m. news anchor.

Roberts came out professionally as gay in September 2006 at the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association convention in Miami Beach. He and other television reporters, including WSVN-7’s Craig Stevens, served on a panel titled “Off Camera: The Challenges for LGBT TV Anchors.”

“It was the first major step,” recalled Roberts, at the time a CNN anchor. “Being on the panel made it easier in the process. I thought it was nice to be included, and thought it would be helpful to other young journalists. I thought it would be kind of cool for younger people coming up to know you could be personally and professionally successful by living your truth.”

Roberts’ coming out became big news in both the gay and mainstream media after CNN reassigned him from anchor duties days after the convention.

“It was unfortunate timing,” Roberts said Sunday, adding that during the convention a CNN talent recruiter advised him he would soon learn “about some assignment changes.”

Roberts left CNN in May 2007. After a stint on The Insider, he joined MSNBC in April 2010.

Stonewall organizers invited Roberts and his partner of 10 years, Patrick Abner, to be in this year’s parade.

“The message would be great to get across to everybody, especially as we are inching forward to equality on all levels, is to make sure our voices are heard, to never shy away when the times are tough,” said Roberts, 38. “Things have never been better in this country in terms of LGBT equality, and I think we have better days ahead.”

The annual parade and festival “brings people out of the woodwork,” said Nate Klarfeld, past president of the Stonewall National Museum and Archives in Fort Lauderdale.

“Many people don’t know what Stonewall is,” Klarfeld said of the June 1969 police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a New York City gay bar, that sparked the modern gay-rights movement.

Teaching about Stonewall is part of the mission at Latinos Salud, a Wilton Manors-based agency for gay and bisexual Latin men ages 18 to 44.

“To us, [the festival] is an extremely big deal because we want to teach our own people what Stonewall is about,” said Rafáelé Narváez, the group’s director of health programs. As gay people, they want to know what happened, that we have a history, too.”

Latinos Salud serves about 350 clients. “In our culture, we have to have a safe place to meet outside the bars,” Narváez said.

The organization, which provides life coaching and HIV-prevention counseling, is funded by the Florida Health Department and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sunday, dozens of members crammed the Latinos Salud office on Wilton Drive, making last-minute preparations for the parade.

Here, the clientele “feels at home,” outreach worker Anthony Alexander said. “They are free to speak Spanish. They feel like they are in their own community. Everywhere else, they are like minorities.”



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Most of the younger generation (35 and below) have no idea what Pride is. Sadly to most, it's a reason to go out and legally drink on the streets of our city.

It's that way for a lot of the older generations too. Give 'em a cocktail, you'll get them out.

South Florida should be like the other big cities and have upwards of 100,000 people in a parade. But no, it's segregated in a gay ghetto lined with bars so they can do what they do best......sell the liquor to those who will consume it.

That's pride for ya

As usual, the videographer picked the most stereotypical and inflammatory images possible. Pride is more than drunken revelers and boys in underwear, And NO ONE can seem to make that clear. By the way, I watch MSNBC and I have NEVER seen their headliner Grand Marshall... EVER. Stonewall is, this year, a money-making proposition for Miss Wedner and her associates (and the food trucks she brought in from Miami.) They robbed local merchants out of money that they needed and deserved on this day. I did enjoy he parade and Dame Edna, but I will not attend or support Stonewall again until I am assured that WILTON MANORS profits - not a private entity from Miami.

Come on Bob! Being Flamboyant (with an emphasis on the "boy") is what being gay is all about!

It's estimated that 1 in 45 Broward County residents are living with HIV and most everyone is affected by this scourge in some way.

The area is also home to one of Florida’s highest foreclosure rates. Add rising unemployment to the mix, and many people living in the Fort Lauderdale area are struggling just to survive.

For many of them, the AIDS Insurance Continuation Program can help. But, many people don't know about this valuable resource. That’s where the Wellness Center of South Florida can help.
About Us

The Wellness Center of South Florida is a licensed 501(c)(3) non-profit organizaton in the state of Florida founded by Heidi Andrus in 1996. The Wellness Center is dedicated to providing a safe, nurturing place for the HIV community of Broward County.

We believe that each of us needs to be well informed consumers and active participants with our physicians in our treatment decisions.

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After almost 15 years of experience, The Wellness Center of South Florida has become a source of trusted vital information for those in the HIV community and it is this knowledge that empowers an individuals strength.

Although all services are provided free of charge to our participants, donations are very much needed and warmly appreciated. We are proud of the fact that 90 percent of our funding goes directly towards client care and services.

Staff and Volunteers

Our highly trained volunteers are dedicated to the support, personal growth and wellbeing of all HIV positive members of our community.

Our volunteers and support team follow all the guidelines and training put forth by the Health Council of South Florida.
The Wellness Center of South Florida
Heidi Andrus

Father Larry Turner and Father John Joseph Reid, priests of the Chapel of Divine Mercy Wilton Manors were proud to march in the parade and show another side of our community. we were the only spiritual/religious ones marching. Peace to you all.

this festival was unique, lots of gay or lesbians participate on this fest. peace !

I have seen the video of the festival and get very amazed. I want to join the festival on the next time. Hope you will also join with me.

Stonewall Street Festival is a very popular here. Many people join this parade and enjoy very much. I missed this year due to my work. Hope I will be able to join next year.

The Street Festival is a well known program in the city. Every year I try to attend this festival and have a lot of enjoyment.

We see that it was a great festival!, we must be aware of what importance of having a healthy life and to improve the quality of life of people infected with HIV. best regards!!!

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