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The year of equality: South Florida LGBT activists, allies describe why they've got pride in 2013

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

South Florida’s large gay community is celebrating the fifth annual Miami Beach Gay Pride festival at what might be a pivot point in history.

The military has ended its ban on gays openly serving. A majority of U.S. senators (as well as a majority of Americans) have expressed support for same-sex marriage. And in June, the Supreme Court could provide the capstone, a ruling that the federal government must recognize those unions.

“We will look back on 2013 as the year equality for the LGBT community became real,” said Gary Burton, a Grammy-winning vibraphonist from Fort Lauderdale. “I used to wonder if I would live long enough to see this milestone, but here it is!”

This confluence of change has energized gays and their friends, relatives and supporters. Organizers say they expect 80,000 (20,000 more than last year) to attend the festival, which began Monday when a rainbow flag was raised over Miami Beach City Hall.

We asked lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists and their allies why they’re proud. Within two days we heard from more than 100 people by email, Facebook and the Public Insight Network (PIN). Here’s a sampling of responses:

Steve Adkins, Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce president: “I am amazed at our legislative progress and, the unity within our community. I could never have predicted even 10 years ago that we would have made such strides in the areas of employment, adoption and, marriage equality.”

Chris Aguilar, human resources administrator: "The gay community has grown so much and become so tight, it has made the gay movement accelerate immensely. Our rights as human beings period are slowly but surely being honored and respected." 

Paolo Ambu, businessman: “As the Miami Beach Gay Pride parade director I'm particularly proud for the enthusiasm and continuous support we receive from our LGBT community and supporters that come together every year to make Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade the huge success that it is today.”

Vix Araujo, social media specialist: “I am really proud of the Miami Beach Gay Pride festival now in its fifth year because it unites the local LGBT community and its allies.”

Chip Arndt, businessman and activist: “I am not so much proud to be gay as I am proud to be all that I am, which encompasses me being a gay man. As I say to people: ‘I didn't choose to be gay. I just got lucky!’”

Andrea Askowitz, writer and Lip Service co-creator: “I’m proud to be gay because I’m proud to be true about who and what I am.”

Thomas Barker, events promoter: “I am so proud of how hard our community and our allies have fought to get to where we are today, and I am proud to not only be gay but also be a part of a generation that will experience LGBT equality in my lifetime.”

Michael Bath, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force events director: “I’m proud to be LGBT every year, but 2013 is extra-special because it is the first year that began with a sitting president not only saying he supports our rights but actually taking action to help us get them.”

Lynn Bove, events promoter: “I'm proud to be part of the LGBT community because it makes me feel inspired. I see our beautiful diversity, creativity and the strength of our conviction and it inspires and propels me to do more for our community.”

Ricardo Bran, administrative officer: “Is this a rhetorical question? Why are straight people proud to be straight? I am gay period, end of story. People may like it, people may not.”

Max Brava, artist and author: “I am proud to be LGBT because of the wave of solidarity sweeping the nation as we are all fighting for a common cause. — equality! To achieve those things that have been so painfully absent from our lives: marriage equality, immigration equality, and all the rights that come along with them.”

Karen Brown, LGBT Visitor Center executive director: “It’s as exciting a time as it was for those at Stonewall, history is being made right now, and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate being LGBT than at our own Miami Beach Gay Pride enjoying it’s fifth fabulous year!”

Geo Bustamante, web designer and editor: "I’m proud to be gay, because standing up for who you are, even when society is trying to bring you down, is definitively something to feel proud of! Be proud and don’t let anyone bring you down! "

Anthony Cabrera, Miami Gay Men’s Chorus artistic director: “I am proud to be gay in a time when true equality is not just on the horizon, but down the street; a time when I am sure my family and the family of countless others will be recognized and valued in the eyes of the society we engage with and love.”

Gino Campodonico, Adrienne Arsht Center publicist: "I am able to be myself in a society that is finally starting to understand and celebrate differences. I am proud to be part of a generation that is seeing change — a generation that will not let our rights be shoved aside until we are all equal."

Octavio Campos, performance artist: “I am proud to be Gay in 2013 because of the passion behind every attempt at making sure our community has equal rights in this world. The strides that have been made since my coming out almost 25 years ago are miraculous and I applaud Miami and all it's residents for creating a truly fluid place that I am proud to call home.”

Ivan Cano, Miami Beach Gay Pride executive director: “I am proud to be gay because I am able to be express myself anytime.”

Brad Carlson, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund treasurer: "I’m proud to be living in a country whose laws and policies are finally beginning to match its core principles. We still have a long way to go, but for the first time, I can see the real possibility that LGBT people will achieve full equality under the law in my lifetime."

Franc Castro, Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival executive director: “I am proud to be gay because it has taught me that we should celebrate our individuality and find comfort in our commonalities.”

John Challenor, Phonedoctor.com: “I truly feel free to be me now that I see so many openly gay candidates running for political office right here in our own community.”

Jerry Chasen, attorney: “I’ve never been more proud. I look back on the last 15-20 years, and can trace the drive towards equality. And I know I had some part in it. As have we all."

Kim Cohane, businesswoman: “I’m proud to be LGBT because it’s an incredibly evolving and diverse community. From the artists to community leaders, their life’s mission of giving back inspired me at an early age to see community involvement as a way of life. My life is richer because of the friendships and connections I’ve made in the LGBT community.”

Enbar Cohen, Aventura commissioner: “I am so proud to be part of a community that works tirelessly both politically and socially towards a greater awareness for LGBT youth safety and equal recognition under the law.”

James Cubby, author, South Beach Star: “Gays are no longer afraid of being who they are. Today gays are asking, demanding, and expecting the rights that everyone else enjoys and takes for granted. Gays are not only coming out but are making sure that they are noticed.”

D.J. Pride: “I’ve been out since I was 15, and I’ve always taken pride in who I am. But this is a special time to be gay it feels like I'm watching history unfold right in front of me. We will remember these years as ones of great social change and I counts not be more proud.”

David da Silva Cornell, attorney and activist: "Despite major multi-year efforts still ahead for us on a range of issues (especially including passing an inclusive ENDA), I believe that — thanks to the collective, cumulative efforts of so many out and proud LGBTIQ individuals and organizations and the rapidly growing numbers of our increasingly assertive allies — we have finally lived into one of my favorite Martin Luther King Jr. quotes: 'Today the question is not whether we shall be free but by what course we will win.'"

Danilo De La Torre, AKA drag queen Adora: “I’m not only proud to be gay, I’m glad. It is the only way I know. Remember happiness only comes when you’re true to yourself.”

Jean Marc De Silva, insurance broker: “It’s really a special privilege to be present during the continued evolution of the LGBTQ community in 2013. I feel prideful seeing the gay youth in the parade. Out, proud and in numbers walking down Ocean Drive, happy as they walk with their "adopted" gay families. That’s who we are fighting for, this year and beyond.”

Daisy Deadpetals, DJ and drag entertainer: “I’m proud that we never back down even with so many obstacles in our way, to get laws changed as we fight for fair & equal treatment. As an artist, I’m also proud to be part of such a wonderfully creative talented group of people who are never afraid to express themselves so colorfully & beautifully.”

Terry DeCarlo, Broward House development director: “I am proud of how the LGBT community has, over the past decade, rallied together, for the most part, to become a cohesive and strong unit. Proud of how our voices are now being raised, and better yet, taken seriously. Proud to see LGBT persons in positions of power, or as confidants to those in power. Proud to see attitudes changing across the country when it comes to gay marriage and gay adoption. But most of all I am proud of those who came before us, fought, and stood up for what they believed in, so that we may be in these situations in 2013.”

Mary Dee, events promoter: “Many people came to Miami Beach for the sun and easy lifestyle, not realizing we were actually building a gay Mecca on America’s Riviera. Now that the LGBT rights movement is global, we are thrilled to come together as a true community to celebrate the past, present and future.”

Rob Delehanty, Stonewall National Museum & Archives board member: “I'm proud that pride parades and festivals are now celebrations rather than marches for rights. It means we have these rights because brave people marched in the streets to mark the anniversary of the Stonewall riots in New York City.”

Eleazar Delgado, artist: “As we age, there is nothing like living the change of attitude towards homosexuality. I am proud of the work that we as a community have done.”

Juan Del Hierro, minister: “I am proud to be a part of our community because of our heritage of courage to love, to be ourselves and to stand up against bigotry for what is right. ... Today, I am proud of our pride.”

Victor Diaz-Herman, Pridelines Youth Services executive director: “I am proud to be LGBT because I belong to a community that has a long history of fighting for equality, that is strong and committed to a greater cause, that will not stop fighting until all people regardless of age, race, creed and sexual identity are treated equally under the law. If that's not something to be proud of, I don't know what is.”

Dennis Edwards, arts patron and activist: “After decades of hard work, both in the public square and private homes, and surviving an epidemic, the light at the end of the tunnel has never been brighter for the gay community.”

Anabel Evora, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force major gifts officer: “I am proud to be gay in 2013 because I can live an authentic and harmonious life filled with love, peace, and happiness.”

Tiffany Fantasia, drag queen: “I am proud to be LGBT in 2013, because that is who I am. And every day we as a whole grow closer and closer to being equal, years ago it seemed like a dream that could never be reached. These days it seems the dream is almost a reality.”

Edison Farrow, events promoter: “I am proud of the progress that the gay community has made over the past years, especially with the change in public opinion towards gay people, gay marriage and the acceptance of the LGBT community.”

Seth Feuer, Realtor: “It makes me proud to live in a community that is welcoming and embracing of all people — regardless of faith, race, age, sexual orientation. Miami Beach and Miami at large is one of the great cities of the world leading the way to how we all can live and let live, all while celebrating the diversity of what it is to be human.”

Michelle Alexis Gaber, events promoter: “These are historic times. It’s amazing we have a president who supports marriage equality and everyday we are making progress with LGBT issues.”

Liebe Gadinsky, ally and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force board chair: “It is an honor to be part of this community, which has shown such immeasurable grace, fierce determination, and courage. To watch as we finally reap some rewards for our efforts is a rare gift.”

Scott Galvin, North Miami councilman: “The LGBT movement is advancing with startling speed. I’m proud to see changes happening while I’m still young enough to benefit from them. And I’m proud so many of the advances are accompanied by the smiles of our allies in the straight community.”

Gabriel Garcia-Vera, Pridelines Youth Services programs and development coordinator: “I’m proud to be a young queer guy because we get to live in a time of revolution. Sure our system isn’t perfect but our community is no longer in the shadows.”

Julie Garrity, events promoter: “2013 is extra special because it’s the pivotal turning point that will pave the way of the future for full equality and recognition for the LGBT community as human beings. It feels good watching society evolve bit by bit. We have made great strides as a community and the future looks bright!”

Ily Goyanes, author: “I’m proud of our patience and our poise. Even though we’re treated as second-class citizens, we never lose our joie de vivre, our spirit. We celebrate our lives and loves while facing adversity and discrimination every day.”

Bob Gramatges, Pridelines Youth Services development and marketing coordinator: "I am not proud to be gay any more than a straight person is proud to be straight, I suppose. I will say, however, that in 2013 I have become aware and very proud of the family that South Florida's LGBT community has become for me. I look forward to seeing what it will look like after another five years of the festival."

Joe Granda, music producer: “I am proud to be a part of the rich cultural diversity of the LGBT community in the USA and a proud activist in fighting against discrimination and the rights for our community as a whole, inclusive of all.”

Ed Guedes, attorney: ““I’m proud to be gay because God made me this way!”

Roy Gulliford, ally and father of gay son: “[I am] tired of seeing my son attacked and denied some of his rights because he’s gay, even [by] some of his fellow Christians, who hide their homophobia behind questionable exegesis and judge him as something less because he openly lives out the sexual orientation with which he was born.”

Mark Haines, businessman: “It finally feels like the country as a whole has become more open minded and that there is a growing acceptance that diversity should be celebrated instead of tolerated.”

David Hart, retired CEO: “I am very proud to be a gay senior. Through activism I am hoping that we can make life better for gay kids. Those children are still under enormous stress.”

Mandi Hawke, SunServe youth services director: “I am honored and proud to be part of the queer community fighting for equality alongside so many passionate and inspiring activists! The LGBT community has given me a sense of purpose and a place to use all my heart, love and a dedication to making the world a better and more open place.“

Sandra Holiday, businesswoman: “I am especially proud that this year my efforts and dedication to my Whispering Angels Foundation to give an annual scholarship to LGBT students in Design & the Arts has been recognized and I am a proud recipient of the Legends & Leaders Award from Unity Coalition.”

Denise Hueso, Alliance for LGBTQ Youth lead care clinical coordinator: “In our work here we empower youth to feel proud of who they are! Many of the youth that have been enrolled in our programs will be marching at their first youth pride with us on Sunday. This is an important part of their experience in developing connections with each other and the greater community.“

Sharon Greenfelt Kersten, publicist: “I do not think of myself as being an ‘LGBT ally.’ I am, however, committed to fighting discrimination and working to ensure that all human beings are treated equally.”

Georg Ketelhohn, attorney: “I’m proud to be part of a community that has faced violence, hate, a terrible plague, and centuries of falsehoods, yet has responded with love, reason and unflinching determination to carve out a better world, one heart and one mind at a time.”

Jessica Lam, DJ and transgender activist: "The times are changing and there's a wind of change in the air. ... Just look around, you'll find that our LGBT community is making strides at being more open, while also finding support in the world around us.”

Stephen R. Lang, photographer: “I am proud to be part of a community that can make things happen in such a beautiful city and bring entertainment in that most cannot normally see. I love the fact that at these events there is literally something for everyone and anyone can join in and have some fun!”

Cordey Lash, publicist: “In my lifetime I have the joy of seeing our community be a symbol of normal, with the ability to have children, husbands, wives or whatever our hearts may desire. In 2013 we are on the cusp of being legally equal, I am very proud!

Tony Lima, Miami Science Museum vice president: “We finally have a presidential administration that acknowledges and supports us. I am also very proud and lucky to have parents that are very vocal about their pride of their very successful and openly gay son [especially my Mom].”

Peter Damien Loza, Broward Center for the Performing Arts operations manager: “I am who I am and always have been all my life. I was gay when being gay wasn’t cool. I am grateful for having experienced those difficult early years of being out. I am proud as it has made me a stronger man today.”

Robert Martinez, publicist: “We're supposed to be living in a progressive era where we're all equal. Unfortunately, we're not equal yet and there are many people who don't have support or champions to look up to as an example. Today's world, though more open, is still filled with discrimination, fear-based thinking, shame and hate. ... I believe and am hopeful that there will soon be a day that our government recognizes us as the first-class citizens we already know we are.”

Harold Mathis, former El Portal vice mayor: “I am proud to be gay, because I am gay at one of the best times in history. To be a part of something that was a negative attachment to the person and now it has given rise and awareness to all human rights issues that are of meaningful and significant to all that is are God given right!”

Victor M. Mauro Jr., magazine publisher: “Pride in yourself is something that everyone should have the right to enjoy. The people I was lucky to have been surrounded by during my younger days taught me that no matter what label I epitomize or how I lived my life, I needed to be true to myself as an individual, as a community member, as a friend and as a role model.”

Lisa Mercado, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force special events coordinator: “This has been an amazing year with many victories on our path to equality and I am proud to work for an organization that has played a role in those victories. I am most proud to be a part of our local LGBT community including our straight allies. To see how a group of people will come together to get things accomplished, raise money, make strides in protecting the rights of our families, provide resources for our youth. It’s absolutely amazing.”

Juan Saco Mironoff, blogger and photographer: "Every day when I wake up I can see we are closer to getting our rights recognized, like everyone else.The fact that our president tells society that we should have the right to get married means a lot! Discrimination is not just a matter of law. Discrimination is a matter of hearts. 

Norberto Molina Jr. , registered nurse: “I am part of a historic LGBT generation that has made the biggest leaps towards true equality. My pride shows in the pride my 10-year-old son has when he tells his friends, ‘I have two dads.’”

Babak Movahedi, bar owner and chairman of Miami Beach Gay Pride: “Our community has come such a long way but our goals are real and achievable. I am proud because 10 years ago I could not imagine that I could get married and, now, the hope is real and alive.”

Joey Mugica, artist: “I believe we rise or fall as one, and united we stand on a mission to fight in defense of our rights for justice and equality”

Richard Murry, Miami Beach Gay Pride publicist: “South Florida — Miami Beach in particular — is such an amazingly diverse and inclusive community. It’s a wonderful place to live, work and play. Being part of the Pride organization is one way I can give back to the community that gives so much to me both personally and professionally. I am proud to be a part of this closely knit group of people.”

Dr. Pam Newman, anesthesiologist: “Last year I adopted two boys. Without strong LGBT leaders, the large number of LGBT individuals giving their support, and finally the cooperation from non-LGBT members of this community, the adoption would have never occurred. I am forever grateful.”

Benjamin Oppenheim, student: “I am proud to support my fellow gays in being proud of who I am and who we are. We are just like everyone else and deserve respect and dignity and we love being members of society.”

C.J. Ortuño, SAVE Dade executive director and ally: "It is now that we are beginning to realize a future free of discrimination and prejudice. Today we are experiencing significant gains for equality. Today the movement is reshaping the definition of family in this country, Today it is cracking and eventually breaking through the lavender ceiling, Today the movement is pushing ever so close to a day when LGBT youth can aspire and dream about a great American dream, without limitation. We are closer than ever before — and the work is harder than ever.”

Henry Perez, photographer: “I am proud to be gay in 2013 because of the strides our LGBT community has made in the last few years; we are a strong and proud family, showing the world that we are not going away. We are also very lucky to have many non-LGBT supporters who embrace the diversity of our community.”

Miriam “Mimi” Planas, Miami-Dade County Community Council member and Republican Party activist: “We are finally winning the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans, on both sides if the isle. Marriage equality is no longer a dream, it is headed towards reality.”

Stratton Pollitzer, Equality Florida deputy director: “Today I am proud of our allies across Florida who are speaking out like never before to show they stand with us on the right side of history. The climb is still steep to achieving full equality in Florida, but with our friends, families, and co-workers joining us in condemning anti-gay policies and prejudices we will finish the job.

Chad Richter, Miami Beach Gay Pride co-founder and former president: “Pride celebrates all of us and our ability and desire to live, love and laugh. In 2013, I am proud of the changes that have occurred in the hearts of families and many of our elected officials and I am hopeful with the movements that are sweeping the nation that this may be the year for equality.”

Lynare Robbins, writer: "I served in the United States Navy in 1991 at a time when I had to masquerade and hide my identity as a lesbian. I never thought that the ban on gays and lesbians in the military would be lifted. But it was due to the determination of people fighting for fairness.”

Octavio Roca, author and Miami Dade College professor: “It is a good, hopeful time, but the LGBT pride is bittersweet. My partner and I have been together 42 years, since my first year at Georgetown University and his last year in high school. While my faculty colleagues, some on their second or third marriages, enjoy full Social Security survivor benefits and everything else that goes with full civil rights, we of course don’t.”

Francesca Roderick, businesswoman: “I’m proud to embrace myself and I’m looking forward to all the possibilities of equality, marriage and all rights for the LGBT community, and most importantly live my life happy and gay!”

Sandy Rodriguez, high school student: “No amount of homophobia can overshadow the unity and acceptance within the LGBT community and its allies; despite adversity, we shall stand united. The prejudice I face only motivates me to preserve and achieve my dreams.”

Rosibel Roman, LGBT activist: “It's hard to say that I'm ‘proud’ of being LGBT, since it is something that we don't necessarily choose, or strive for in general. Although I am not ashamed of it, I also don't feel a need to wave a flag about it. I realize this is kind of a luxury, partly due to being spoiled from living in the San Francisco area my whole life until I moved to Florida six years ago, and partly due to the many years of tireless activism and incredibly hard work that LGBT civil rights activists have done, and continue to do. If not for them, it would be a far more dangerous world for me.”

Jeff Ronci, Miami-Dade Schools community engagement director: “More than proud, I am grateful and humbled by those who braved life outside the closet before us, especially before Stonewall. Henry Gerber and Harry Hay; Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon; Christine Jorgensen and Michael Dillon; the Mattachine Society, Daughters of Bilitis, and Society for Human Rights, and all the ordinary heroines and heroes who lived openly and honestly in times and places less enlightened and accepting than our own.”

Robert Rosenberg, filmmaker: “I’m especially proud to be a gay man this year when I see how cutting-edge and central our issues have become in the national discourse about civil rights, due the Supreme Court cases about same-sex marriage.”

Lee Rubin, businessman and activist: "I have been involved in the fight for LGBT Equality for more than 20 years but 2013 is the year that we went from Pariahs to Prominent!"

Jowharah Sanders, National Voices for Equality Education and Enlightenment founder: “Growing up in Miami as a minority lesbian was difficult ... but I knew that change and progress would need to come, and the only way for that to happen in my lifetime is for me to be part of it.”

Josue Santiago, communications professional: “Now, more than ever, is the time that we must stand together, be proud of our struggle, appreciate our accomplishments and show the rest of the country that there is nothing ‘unequal’ about us.”

Teddy Sayho, DJ and United Way of Miami-Dade senior development officer: “Our movement still has a long way to go. This is why I strongly support gay pride.”

Elizabeth Schwartz, attorney: “I’m proud to be part of a diverse community which is not sitting at the sidelines but instead is demanding recognition of our relationships and families. I’m proud that we have catalyzed a civil rights movement.”

Robin Schwartz, Aqua Foundation for Women executive director: “I am proud to be LGBT in 2013 for the same reason I am always proud to be LGBT — because it is who I am. For me Miami Beach Gay Pride is about our entire community as a whole and as individuals being proud of who we are.”

Eddie Sierra, businessman and GOP activist: “Being gay does not define who I am as a person. Just like being a person of color, or nationality, or creed. However, I am very pleased about the progress our community has made. Progress is more just and balance when we include everyone in the process, including our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.”

Joel S. Slotnick, digital court reporter: “I am more free to be who God created me to be. We LGBT owe a lifetime of thanks to those who opened doors and closets for us 44 years ago on June 27, 1969, at the Stonewall riots.”

Herb Sosa, president of Unity Coalition: “I am proud to be able to live my life openly and with respect; love whomever I choose; be friends with who I please; have the love and support of those that really matter; and be a community leader for the LGBTQ, Latino/Hispanic Community.

Jesse Spencer, Wire Magazine associate publisher: “I feel like the attitude of our country is finally evolving. It has been a long and tedious battle with my own (conservative) family back in Idaho, so to see LGBT issues in the nation’s dialogue makes me so happy.”

Craig Stafford, life coach: “I’m proud to articulate my soul’s divine make-up as a black, openly gay male living in 2013. A quintessential year where politics, religion and the military sojourn to the effervescent color of equality — the color of humanity.”

Martha Sternberg, copy editor: “For the first time we have a president who believes our love is equal. And that belief is spreading across the country faster than we ever could have imagined 20 years ago. Our time is here!”

Dale Stine, photographer: “I am most proud that I have been living my life as an openly gay man since I ‘came out’ of the closet in 1975 when I was 18. It certainly helped that I was ensconced in the world of music and theater, which bolstered my strength and patience in ‘guiding’ my family into a place of being totally loving, supportive and accepting.”

Travis L Stokes, public administrator: “Our community is moving closer and closer to breaking down all barriers that stand in the way of moving closer to marriage equality and equal protection under the law.”

Gene Sulzberger, investment advisor: “I am glad to be myself and to not have to lie about being myself. That has been the biggest transformation during my lifetime — that has come from the greater awareness and understanding in society. But there is still a lot of work to be done.”

Jason Tamanini, The Manor manager: “It is so great to be a part of the movement towards legalizing gay marriage. I always dreamed for this and it is happening before my very eyes.”

Jerry Torres, events producer: “My family fully supports me and the laws are moving ahead for human/gay rights in the US and around the world. This makes me very proud to be who I am today.”

Charles Urstadt, businessman and preservationist: “Gay Pride really means being proud to be a gay American and the amazing progress we’ve made in such a short time. We still aren’t where we should be but I know we will get there.”

Yuri Velasquez, patient advocate: “We have a unique identity that separates us from other groups. I believe we are a culture by itself. Full of color, music/sound, costumes (fashion/style) and, I will dare say, the only group that includes all ethnicities, gender, races and religions. We are an ‘equal opportunity’ community and accept everyone, no matter who you are.”

Mikey Verdugo, gym owner and fired Hollywood police officer: “I am proud to be LGBT in 2013, as I return to the police force and stand for equality in and out of our community, with a specific focus on bringing ENDA [Employment Non-Discrimination Act] to the state of Florida.”

Andii Viveros, transgender activist: “Watching so many individuals from such diverse walks of live stand together for the LGBTQ community makes me elated to say I am out, proud, and gay.”

The Rev. Amy Carol Webb, River of Grass Unitarian Universalist Congregation: “I'm proud to be gay in 2013 for having lived and loved under South Florida's sun to see the light of our full civil rights dawning, grateful for the courage and compassion of all those who strive to make it so.”

Rodney White, businessman and activist: “The years of hard work and sacrifice by so many is coming to fruition as so many cities, counties and states are removing discrimination and adding protections for LGBT citizens and our families. The momentum is really breathtaking. I am proud that our community has settled for nothing less than equal. I believe that day of full equality is in sight!”

Dr. Ken Wilcox, psychologist: “I have always been proud to be gay, but even more so in this year of great change and recognition, both for me personally as I married my long-term partner, but also as a doctor and human-rights activist across the globe.”

Hilton Wolman, events promoter: “I’m proud of what we, as a gay community, have accomplished since the days of Stonewall and stigma and closets. I’m proud to have the love and support of my friends and most importantly my family. I’m hopeful that 2013 will be a landmark year in our fight for equality.”

David Young, former Miami-Dade circuit judge: “Who ever would have thought that one day that my relationship with [Miami-Dade Circuit Judge] Scott [Bernstein] (after 18 years) would be given equal status to that of my parents is very exciting. Future generations will look back on this time and scratch their collective heads with bewilderment that two people in love, in the United States, were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.”

David Zaret, Trevor Project chat counselor: “For the first time I can truly feel the tides changing. With the national focus on the LGBT community and support for marriage equality growing, I am proud to stand with the LGBT community and fight for what generations before me, and generations to come will fight for equality.”

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Once equality reaches critical mass (we are all the same) there will cease to be any more Gay Pride festivals. Then, with total equality, will we cease using the term "gay" all together?

France Needs South Florida!
You are cordially invited to Monday’s wedding ceremony, April 15, at 8:15 am ET of Marc Antoine & Sebastien as they exchange their wedding vows through Google Hangout Live on the Internet.

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