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LGBT Hispanic community to Celebrate Orgullo (gay pride) Saturday at Collins Avenue and 73rd Street

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, [email protected]

Just as Miami-Dade’s leading Hispanic LGBT group celebrates gay pride on Saturday, word comes that the county is No. 6 nationally in same-sex couples with Latino/a households.

There are an estimated 108,000 LGBT Hispanics in Florida and 2,766 same-sex couples with at least one Hispanic householder in Miami-Dade County. Fifteen percent of those couples are raising children, according to a report this week by Williams Institute at UCLA law school based on 2010 Census data.

“It’s not a surprise, it reaffirms that we’re programming to the right audience,” said Herb Sosa, president of Unity Coalition, the group sponsoring Celebrate Orgullo — Hispanic gay pride — Saturday afternoon on North Beach. “It reaffirms those numbers when you see the attendance at the workshops we have. You see it in the audience, where nearly every person sitting in the room is [part of] a binational couple.”

Unity Coalition is 11 years old. This is the group’s third annual Orgullo.

“Orgullo means pride. The reason why we celebrate Hispanic pride in October is because, nationally, October is Hispanic Heritage Month,” Sosa said.

“In 2011, a group of organizations and community leaders came together with the city of Miami Beach and developed a special event to celebrate Hispanic LGBT pride in Miami Beach,” he said. “Our first year we had a couple of thousand people there. We went from about 2,500 the first year to just over 6,000 in attendance last year.”

The first two years, Orgullo took place on South Beach. This year, it moves north.

“We felt the festival needed its own identity and a little bit of room to grow, so we took it on the road and moved it to Collins and 73rd on the beach,” Sosa said. “It’s still Miami Beach and more centrally located to the Hispanic neighborhoods, as well as better access for our neighbors to the north.”

Celebrate Orgullo, which is free and runs noon to 8 p.m., will feature 55 vendors and two entertainment stages. Among the celebrity personalities and performers: Enrique Santos of Mix 98.3 FM; DJ Reddy; singers Madai and Jei; and South Florida drag stars Pussilla, Shanaya Bright and Adora.

“Our headliner is Emmy- and Grammy-award winning singer-producer Albita, who will be performing for an hour, a mini-concert on our main stage,” Sosa said.

Albita said Friday she feels “honored” to participate.

“I believe in freedom of choice and equality of rights for all human beings, and admire the work that is done,” she said. “We will bring a big party to the stage and will try to make the audience forget about their worries and have a great time Saturday night.”

Orgullo also has an educational component. “We have a substantial amount of information at the festival,” Sosa said. “Everything from immigration, on binational couples, adoption, where and how to marry.”

Celebrate Orgullo is not for profit. Corporate proceeds raised Saturday will benefit Unity Coalition’s LGBT youth scholarship program, along with the Anita Priest Whispering Angels Memorial Scholarship Foundation.

Santos, whose Miami-based syndicated radio show is heard across the nation, said it’s important for all LGBT people and allies to attend Orgullo.

“Gay people, straight people, bisexual people, transgender people, coming together as a community,” said Santos, who came out publicly last year during a Barack Obama presidential campaign fundraiser in Miami Beach. “It shows that your sexual orientation doesn’t determine your character.”

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