By: Rian Merrick, LMHC, and SunServe’s Intake Manager, with contributions from John Marler, SunServe’s Dir. of Communications

In the gentle rustle of South Florida’s palms, a sense of magic stirs. Halloween, a holiday woven with tradition and mystery, emerges as a beacon of light in our sunny paradise. For the LGBTQ+ community in this thriving region, this enchanting celebration holds a unique significance, uniting us in a community of creativity, self- expression, and a shared history of strength (Photo by T Leish).

Halloween grants LGBTQ+ individuals a precious opportunity to stand proudly, revealing their authentic selves. In a region that cherishes diversity, this holiday provides a sanctuary where our varied identities are not only embraced but celebrated. Whether donning elaborate costumes or crafting bewitching makeup looks, we enjoy the freedom to express our most authentic selves without judgment or inhibition.

Beyond personal expression, Halloween acts as a powerful catalyst for unity. Events and gatherings centered around this holiday offer spaces where LGBTQ+ individuals can forge connections, find support, and revel in the shared experience of being part of a vibrant and diverse community. These celebrations foster an invaluable sense of belonging, especially for those who may feel isolated or marginalized in their day-to-day lives.

Moreover, Halloween allows us to revisit our history, drawing strength from those who came before us. From the subversive origins of drag culture to the early pioneers of LGBTQ+ rights who often found solace in secret masquerades, our community’s connection to Halloween runs deep. The celebration of Halloween acts as a shining light, beckoning us to continue fighting for a world where every LGBTQ+ individual feels seen, heard, and valued.

Community-based organizations like SunServe play a pivotal role in ensuring the LGBTQ+ community has the resources and support needed to thrive. Through initiatives that promote mental health, HIV prevention, substance use recovery, stable housing, elder care, and youth empowerment, we strive to create a world where every LGBTQ+ individual can live authentically and without fear.

To further embrace this spirit of unity and support, I invite you all to join us at a safe LGBTQ+ event: a Haunted Trail Night benefiting SunServe’s Youth Program. This thrilling gathering will take place on Thursday, October 26th, from 7:00 PM to 12:00 AM. The event promises four haunted trails, live music, curated food, a full bar, raffles, and a wealth of community resources. Tickets at:

Pride Fort Lauderdale invites you to enter a realm where the boundaries between the living and the supernatural blur, as Pride Fort Lauderdale presents “Unholy.” With spine-tingling excitement and supernatural surprises awaiting, you won’t want to miss this otherworldly experience. This supernatural soirée unfolds within the sacred walls of The Angeles, a historic church nestled in the heart of Downtown Fort Lauderdale. This event takes place on Friday, October 20th from 8 PM to 1 AM. Tickets available at:

And last, but not least, prepare to immerse yourself in the eerie enchantment of “Little Drive of Horrors,” the captivating theme for this year’s annual Wicked Manors. On the night of Tuesday, October 31st, from 5 pm to 11 pm, The Pride Center at Equality Park will once again transform Wilton Drive into a Halloween Street Festival.Tickets at:

This is a beautiful opportunity to not only celebrate in the ghostly season but also to lend your support to a local LGBTQ+ youth organization meeting the growing needs of our community under attack. Let’s come together for a night of spine-tingling fun while making a positive impact on the lives of our youth. See you there!