Marc Hansen has served on the Executive Board of South Florida Pride for the past three years and was also on the board of Stonewall from 2005 to 2008. The Air Force veteran has made his home in the area for 22 years, and lives with his partner in Fort Lauderdale. Despite the fact he is retired from civilian and military he enjoys the work he does for PrideFest.
“Running this festival is really difficult, it’s not an easy job,” he said. “After March we keep going. By April we already request grants for next year. We’re the only Pride organization in South Florida that actually awards grants to the community, to those who need it most. This will be our 35th year of existence.”
Hansen feels that organizations celebrating Pride should not function as commercial enterprises. The board puts a year of work into organizing the event, they only skip their monthly meeting in June. By July, however, the team is back in meetings and looking forward to the spring.
“It’s a lot of love, that we put into getting things right. Last year was the first year in Jaco Pastorious Park,” Hansen reminded SFGN. “So, we learned a lot. A special part about this year is that the “No H8” Campaign, and photographer Jeff Parshley will be on hand to take pictures of attendees.
Parking, Hansen promises, has been “tidied” up this year. Improvements this year include the hiring of a company to assist in parking, as well as a van to shuttle people from their cars to the park itself.
Of course, PrideFest is not complete without entertainment. While Hansen is in charge of vendors, Jacqui Chavret, President of the Board, is in charge of entertainment. This year they have hired recently-out country performer Chely Wright. Hansen, although not in charge of choosing talent will entertain a little bit himself.
“I perform with Voices From Home,” said Hansen of the quartet in which he is a member. “We are all performers from the Miami VA hospital, but we are also gold medal winners with the National Veterans Performing Arts Festival. We even opened for John Secada in Miami recently.”
Hansen feels it is important – especially in the recent maelstrom of DADT – to have veterans at the event to express their solidarity with the armed forces. Hansen was proud to add that the other three fourths of his quartet are heterosexual. They will perform the National Anthem.
Jacqui Charvet expressed that moving the event to its current, Oakland Park location last year really enhanced the festival. This year’s event will be even further enhanced, and she hopes attendees, who keep the celebration going, will notice.
“I’ve always been one to give back to the community, and I fell that working as the president of Pride South Florida is very rewarding as it allows us to give back to the community through our grant cycles. It’s great working with such a dedicated group of board members, volunteers and sponsors,” she said. “I also want to invite all members and variations of the LGBT community to feel welcomed at the event, and join us as the longest-running Pride in Broward County.”
Please visit PrideSouthFlorida.org for more information.