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As the new guy at Hotspots, I’m learning a lot, not just about the publishing world, but also about the Gay History of Florida, in particular, South Florida. I’m not a native Floridian, so much of the history of our community is unknown to me. I will confess that I have only lived in Florida for a few years…

 

v2741 Optimized-94

As the new guy at Hotspots, I’m learning a lot, not just about the publishing world, but also about the Gay History of Florida, in particular, South Florida. I’m not a native Floridian, so much of the history of our community is unknown to me. I will confess that I have only lived in Florida for a few years, so I have a lot to learn. A few weeks ago, I went to my first Rainbow Business Coalition meeting, and found out that the two “Pride” organizations in Broward County are going to be working together on some upcoming projects, a collaboration that is happening for the first time since the two organizations were founded. They have formed “Pride United of Broward” and despite their past differences (which are more like similarities in my eyes) the executive boards at Pride South Florida and the Rainbow Business Coalition (RBC) have decided that they can accomplish far more if they collaborate than they can if they tear each other down, or work to undermine each other, as has happened in the past. Both organizations play a vital role in the economic vitality of Wilton Manors, and Broward County as a whole. Not only do they bring jobs to the community, they also generate revenue for the city.   

Founded in 1977, Pride South Florida originally started as a street festival in Miami, organized in response to Anita Bryant, the homophobe who made it her personal mission to ensure that Miami Dade county was allowed to keep on discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation. For several years, the Pride festival rotated between Miami and Fort Lauderdale, but eventually it was moved to Broward County permanently. Until 1999 Pride South Florida had their festival in June in commemoration of the Stonewall Riots, however, that year, it was decided to move the date of the festival to April, since the weather is better and there are still a lot of tourists in town.  When the organizers decided to move the festival to earlier in the year, some people felt there still needed to be a festival in June to pay homage to Stonewall raid and resulting riots that sparked the gay rights movement in the US. Thus, Stonewall Summer Pride was born.

Since its inception, Stonewall Summer Pride has hit a few road bumps but the event was recently taken over by the Rainbow Business Coalition, and this year, they not only broke even, they also made money and were able to make a generous donation to SunServe, a local charity that helps LGBT youth. Pride South Florida has had their setbacks as well, from people trying to book the venue out from underneath them, to a disastrous Gay Pride Parade down Sistrunk, they have decided to stick with Holliday Park as the site for their festival, and are excited to announce the return of the Parade (which was scrapped from the lineup several years ago) this year. Pride South Florida has donated tens of thousands of dollars to local LGBT organizations

Since the boards of both organizations were friendly with each other, they met up for dinner one night and decided that the gay community in South Florida, specifically Broward County, needs more cooperation and that there was a lot that they could do together to make this a better place for LGBT people. From that dinner meeting, the two boards eventually decided to create “Pride United of Broward” a new alliance that will allow for cooperation and unity between the RBC and Pride South Florida. Greg Hardy from the RBC said “we can do far more for the community together than we can separately. We are co-branded as Broward United, however we will stay separate… each will have their own events, but we will work together to help each other out.” Mark Hanson from Pride South Florida went on to say that “sometimes the gay community is its own speed bump. If we all worked together instead of infighting we would be unstoppable.” The two organizations not only plan on cooperating during their separate festivals, but they are working on a few surprises for the community as well, and they are planning some new events that will be a total collaboration and group effort.

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Keep your eyes open in the coming weeks for an announcement from Pride United about an event in January 2013 they are preparing for now, as well as some type of event in the spring around the time of Pride Fest, which will take place this year on March 9th and 10th. This year Pride South Florida has added a food and wine festival as well as a comedy night leading up to the actual festival. Stonewall Summer Pride is becoming a two day event this year as well, with the street festival and the parade happening on separate days. Above all, it’s important that the LGBT community works hand in hand to bring about change in Broward County. There are enough forces at work against us, we need to stand TOGETHER to continue the fight for equality. 

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