South Florida’s LGBT community gathers on Saturday (June 17) for the 18th Annual Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade & Festival.
The event, which spans the one-mile length of Wilton Drive in the heart of Fort Lauderdale’s gay community, starts at 3 p.m. and ends at 11 p.m. The annual festival will this year see more than 100 vendors showcasing their products and services and some 30 bars, restaurants and food vendors serving food and drinks.
The actual parade begins at 4 p.m. and will last approximately an hour and a half. It will begin on NE 20th Street and will end at Five Points. Four stages along the Drive will showcase some of the best local performers and entertainers.
The Parade Grand Marshal this year will be Emmy award-winning actress Sharon Gless. Immediately following the parade, from 6:00-8:00 p.m., fans and festival attendees will have the opportunity to meet Ms. Gless and take photos with her at the Stonewall Gallery (2157 Wilton Drive).
Gless is a 10-time Emmy Award nominee and seven-time Golden Globe Award nominee. She won a Golden Globe in 1986 and Emmys in 1986 and 1987 for Cagney & Lacey, and a second Golden Globe in 1991 for The Trials of Rosie O’Neill. Gless received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1995. She is beloved in the LGBTQ community for her portrayal of Debbie Novotny in the Showtime cable television series Queer as Folk from 2000-2005.
Gless also appeared as Madeline Westen in the South Florida based series Burn Notice from 2007-2013. She has recently shared her considerable talent with OurNightOUT.org, starring as the Gay Fun Fairy in a series of public service announcements that can be seen online and at the venues of the OurNightOUT.org partners.
(OurNightOUT is a collaborative by three of Florida’s leading LGBT cultural organizations: Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, Stonewall National Museum & Archives and Island City Stage.)
Stonewall Week events are:
● Wednesday, June 14th from 8 p.m. till midnight, the Stonewall Skate Night is at Xtreme Action Park, 5300 Powerline Road, Fort Lauderdale. This event guarantees a good time with roller skating, dancing, featuring TP Lords, other performances and so much more.
● Thursday, June 15, 6-9 p.m., Wilton Manors Stonewall Gala, invitation only, will be held at the Manor House, Richardson Park & Nature Preserve, 1900 Wilton Drive.
● Friday, June 16, 9 a.m. NBC 6 Cafe’ at Rosie’s Bar & Grille, 2449 Wilton Dr.
We also caught up with some of the featured performers for this year’s event!
Q: What does Pride mean to you, and are you exciting to be performing at Stonewall Pride 2017?
Jackie Beat (Iconic Drag NYC Performer) – Pride to me just means being able to be whomever you are — even if that is a crazy clown, like me. Be proud of you are, and don’t let anybody tell you who you are. I am so exciting to be playing Progress Bar, so please cue see me. (Performing at Progress Bar)
Company B (Susan Gonzalez, Dalia Chirinos, Siddy Betancourt, Gail Hoyer) — The world was beautifully constructed, whether it be G-d or nature. It presents so many physical choices from the tree to the animal kingdom. When it comes to the homo sapien, we were created in many colors with many differences such as height, weight, ethnic background and culture. We are the only animal on the planet that can and does make choices, which include the option of discrimination and the ability to act on it.
Company B is a band that is made of three women who are derivative of slave ancestry and immigrants. Each of these women have experienced some form of harassment and or discrimination. The women of Company B are proud to be a part of community that stands for justice for all and will always choose to take a stand. Stonewall is a reminder of what becomes of hate and bigotry and each year the gay community celebrates overcoming hate. Company B is honored to be a part of such a proud and cohesive community. We join this celebration to take one step closer to celebrating love. (Performing at Hunters Nightclub)
Antonio Edwards (Mr. Stonewall 2016) — What Pride means to me is a celebration of the connection I have with my community. I am extremely proud to be a part of the community of Wilton Manors. I entered Mr. Stonewall last year with that sense of pride in mind. It is a Gay Pride pageant. I am very excited to be working again this year at Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar along with Jennifer McClain and several of the entertainers on cast at the Alibi. Our show will be on the outside stage in front of the Alibi shortly after the parade. (Performing at Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar)
Wendy Ho (Comedienne) — Pride to me means living fully authentically and shamelessly in our skin and unafraid of fear and hatred. (Performing at Progress Bar)
Starlet Skye (Miss Stonewall 2016) – -Pride means to be able to express yourself in whatever way you feel comfortable. We have come so far over the years and although things are not fully correct and free we still are in a better position than we were years ago. I try to remind the youth of today that without our elders we wouldn’t be able to have this celebration. I’m very respectful of the past generations and proud to be part of a wonderful thing like pride. I’m super excited to perform on the stage this year I want everyone to have a great time. (Performing at Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar)
For or more information, go WiltonManorsStonewall.com. Donations are still needed to defray security costs. Visit gofundme.com/wilton-manors-stonewall-security