Mario Lopez Marshals Pride Into Mainstream

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Gay America is going mainstream. So mainstream, event organizers of a gay pride event in Miami Beach have appointed a married straight man with children to serve as grand marshal.

Mario Lopez, host of the gossip program ‘Extra,’ is your grand marshal for the 2015 Miami Beach Gay Pride, which is in full swing with parties, events and ceremonies planned from now through Sunday, April 12.

SFGN requested an interview with Lopez, but was denied. Instead, his handlers sent us a b-roll interview between Lopez and NBC6 South Florida personality Roxanne Vargas. In the interview, Lopez said he and wife Courtney are eager to visit Miami for Pride’s Sunday climax on South Beach.

“We love Miami,” Lopez told Vargas. “We love all the people and the culture and the Latinos down there and the food and I know it’s a beautiful time of year. So we’re really looking forward to the getaway and I know it’s a cool cause.”

Organizers are expecting attendance to surpass 125,000 people during the two-day festival held between Fifth and 15th Street in the historic Art Deco district of Miami Beach. The goal of Miami Beach Pride, officials say, is to bring together members of the LGBT community, their friends, allies and supporters in a celebration of the unique spirit and culture of the LGBT community.

Lopez, known to many for his role as A.C. Slater in the high school sitcom, “Saved By the Bell,” said he was honored to be chosen grand marshal and accepted the invitation immediately.

“Miami is one of the coolest cities in the country, just beautiful people everywhere there,” Lopez said. “It represents so much, not just on the entertainment side, but on the fashion side and just with the melting pot of folks that have congregated down there.”

The action commences with welcoming party at Hotel Gaythering, 1409 Lincoln Road, on Thursday, April 9 (5-7 p.m.) The gay owned and operated boutique hotel featuring interiors by designer Alexander Guerra is on the bayside of Miami Beach and hosts creative parties such as “Bears & Hares.”

On Friday night, the stars begin to come out with celebrities sure to be making appearances at venues across Miami Beach. One of those is country music singer Steve Grand, who is part of a red carpet “angels” reception at Lummus Park. Grand, who is gay, grabbed the national spotlight with his song, “All American Boy.” The video is close to four million views on YouTube and Grand is eager to perform for his South Florida fans.

SFGN spoke with Grand via telephone Monday night about his newest music video -- “Time” – which was filmed in Grand’s native Chicago.

“The video is basically about keeping an open mind about relationships,” said Grand. “It’s good to have experiences with different kind of people.”

In the video, Grand has a romantic relationship with another young man, who happens to be black. When asked his response to people unaccepting of interracial, same-sex relationships, Grand said, “They can fuck off.”

Standing up for the LGBT community is becoming Grand’s forte. Across his social media channels, he regularly calls out bigotry and was vocal in calling for a rewrite of Indiana’s religious freedom restoration act.

“It is important to be your true, authentic self and to be unapologetic about who you are,” Grand said.

Saturday’s Pride activities include a 5K run and electronic music from local DJs. On Sunday, the seventh annual Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade strolls down Ocean Drive beginning at noon. Lopez is also scheduled to participate in a press conference and a performance by Broadway actress Deborah Cox highlights Saturday’s lineup with remarks expected from Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine.

A fireworks show is slated for 9 p.m. on Sunday evening to close out the festivities.


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