BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
October is national Hispanic Heritage Month and also recognized as LGBT History Month. The confluence translates into a perfect time to celebrate Latin gay culture, said Herb Sosa, president of Unity Coalition, the state’s leading Hispanic gay-rights group.
“We absolutely feel there is a need and a desire to showcase and share with the world what we are proud,” said Sosa, whose group is producing this weekend’s Celebrate ORGULLO festival, which begins with an art and fashion show Friday night, followed by an immigration workshop and beach party on Saturday. “Orgullo means pride.”
Last year, a city of Miami Beach initiative created ORGULLO and after just four months of planning, 4,000 people showed up. This year, Unity Coalition took ownership of the event and began planning immediately. Since August, there have been more than 20 sanctioned events throughout South Florida, leading up to this weekend’s celebration.
Each April, Miami Beach Gay Pride draws tens of thousands of visitors from throughout South Florida.
“Why do we need a second pride?” Sosa says rhetorically. “No. 1, we complement Pride. We’re a bookend to that very successful festival in April. We are sponsors and partners with them. We’re all friends. But this focuses on Hispanic culture and heritage, along with LGBT pride. This is really a market Miami Beach Gay Pride doesn’t focus on.”
ORGULLO events are free to the public. Money raised by booth rentals, liquor and merchandise sales will help fund Unity Coalition year-round activities, along with a new LBT Latina Scholarship that’s a joint venture between the coalition and Aqua Foundation for Women.
The festival, which will feature gay Hispanic celebrities including Univision MIX 98.3 radio star Enrique Santos and drag queen Marytrini, has a serious side of significant interest in South Florida: an immigration workshop for binational gay and lesbian couples.
There are an estimated 28,500 binational same-sex couples in the United States. Among noncitizens in binational couples, 45% are Hispanic, according to the Williams Institute, a national think tank in Los Angeles specializing in sexual orientation and gender identity issues.
Max Brava, a partner in a Fort Lauderdale-based talent -modeling agency, is helping coordinate the immigration workshop. He and his partner, Franc, acknowledge their 2011 wedding in Connecticut isn’t recognized by the federal government and that someday Franc may need to return to the Philippines.
“I’m afraid of the same thing we’re all afraid of. We’re afraid we’ll be torn apart. We’re afraid we will either have to live in exile in another country or be separated,” Brava said. “It feels like we are living in a modern version of the underground railroad, our partners have to live in fear and in hiding.”
IF YOU GO
Celebrate ORGULLO begins 8 p.m. Friday with a free art exhibit featuring Eleazar Delgado & Architecture in the Tropics, followed by the SoBe Men's Fashion Show ($30) at the Art Deco Welcome Center, 1001 Ocean Dr.
An LGBT Leadership Conference, “International Love & The Law,” begins 10 a.m. Saturday at the Welcome Center, followed by a beach festival noon to 6 p.m. from 11th to 12th streets.
The festival wraps with a late-night dance party at Solare Coliseum, 3635 NW 78th Ave., Doral. For more information, visit http://celebrateorgullo.com.