Photo provided by LuberRoklin Entertainment

Get ready for an all-new Pride celebration on the beach

More than 25,000 LGBTQ residents and allies are expected at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park on Sunday, February 26 from 12 noon to 8 p.m. at the 40th Annual Pride Fort Lauderdale celebration which will be held on the beach for the first time.

“We wanted to create a world class event that would attract both locals and visitors alike,” said Pride Fort Lauderdale President Miik Martorell, who traveled with other board members to 23 different Pride festivals across the country last year to volunteer and promote the city of Fort Lauderdale as a destination.

In addition to vendors and entertainment, the festival will also include a Play Zone for LGBTQ families, senior “chill” zone, sports zone and dry area for people in recovery. Admission is FREE.

It was a pleasure to sit down with America’s Got Talent Season 11 finalist Brian Justin Crum, who will headline this year’s festivities, for this exclusive Hotspots Interview:

When was the first time you sang in in front of people?

When I was seven I had my first audition. It was for Peter Pan and I was so scared I peed my pants.

What was your first paid gig?

I did a production of Fiddler on the Roof at the Starlight Theater when I was 15 and I got paid $300 for the entire run, but I got paid!

When did you realize that singing was going to be your career?

Probably when I started doing theater at 15; I felt there was nothing else I would ever want to do.

You have been on Broadway many times. What’s that like and what was your favorite show and why?

Broadway is an incredible experience. There are so many performers I respect, because of what they learned doing theater. My favorite show was “Next To Normal. “ There were only 10 actors in the show, but it was such an incredible learning experience for me.

Since you had professional experience under your belt, why did you audition for AGT?

I think we live in a day and age for creating your own opportunities. I lived in LA for two years and the opportunity came to audition and there was no reason not to. The exposure is so great and not one that you can ever buy. I got to show the world what I can do as a performer.

Did you consider not being “Out” on AGT?

It wasn’t ever really a question for me, it’s just who I am. I will not pretend to be someone I am not just to try and achieve a level of success.

How was the audition process for AGT? And what was the entire experience like?

I had a great time with the audition process, it was surprisingly easy. I loved doing the show, and I made very good friends with the crew and producers. As a whole they respected me and what I did. I stayed close with Nikki Leonti and Sofie Dossi.

What has life been like since AGT’s finale?

Busy, really busy. I am traveling and recording a lot. The show changed my life. It also gave me a great platform to speak out about LGBT rights and I have gotten really involved with the Trevor project. I could not be more thankful!

What should the south Florida audience expect from your performance at Pride Fort Lauderdale?

I haven’t determined a set list yet, but I am going to try and focus on my original stuff that people haven’t heard yet, but of course I will also do a couple favorites from AGT.

What’s ahead for you?

The unknown, it’s scary and exciting. My life can go in many different directions, but I am fighting for the direction of success and a music career I can thrive in. I am working really hard to make it happen.

For more information on Brian you can go to his website: BrianJustinCrum.com, or on Facebook and Instagram as Brian Justin Crum.

Brian would also like to invite everyone to download his new song: “Show Me Love”

on iTunes.

The festival will feature nearly 100 vendors, food carts and booths, and a star-studded entertainment line-up:

12 p.m.            DJ Wendy Hunt, pioneer female DJ during the disco era

2 p.m.              DJ A.J. Reddy, popular local DJ

4 p.m.              Grammy-nominated gay country singer Ty Herndon

4:15 p.m.         Internationally acclaimed DJ/Producer Joe Gauthreaux

6 p.m.              Brian Justin Crum, “America’s Got Talent” 2016 finalist

6:15 p.m.         Latrice Royale, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” diva

7 p.m.              Jazz Jennings, local teen transgender activist and star of TLC’s “I Am Jazz”

7:05pm           Erika Jayne from the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”