Madeline Fernandez and Karen Larrea are bringing a new Pride to South Florida. They have organized a first of its kind on October 7 – Hialeah Pride – to be held at Historic Hialeah Park.
The two lesbians and cofounders say Hialeah Pride is “the next step for equality in South Florida that began with the march in 1977 on the streets of Coconut Grove.”
SFGN asked the duo, who met each other working at events, why they chose Hialeah and what attendees can expect.
Tell us a little bit about your backgrounds.
Larrea: I was raised in South Florida and live in Broward. I have a background in marketing and events, such as Aqua Girl in Miami. I often book the talent, negotiate contracts and have done that for years. I was the talent director for the [Club Skirts] Dinah Shore Weekend in Palm Springs, [California]. I’ve done different events around the country working with promoters.
Fernandez: I was born in Miami Beach and raised in Hialeah and moved when I was 21. My parents are still there. I’ve never said my legal name in public, but I’m DJ Citizen Jane. I’m one of the most in-demand DJs in the LGBT community and around the world. I do most of the biggest Pride events – Sydney, New York City. My home base is Miami and I’ve been DJing since the 1990s.
You have a direct connection with Hialeah then.
Fernandez: It’s always been a passion of mine to do something for the LGBT community there, because Hialeah, being a conservative community, when I first came out, I didn’t feel like it was a safe place to come out as a lesbian. I know there’s a huge LGBT community in Hialeah and I want to break a barrier there. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for many years.
How will Hialeah Pride be different, besides its location?
Fernandez: I believe it’s needed because Miami has its beaches, everyone has a thing. We will be very inclusive. There will be no segregation as far as – there’s a women’s tent, transgender [people] are over there – we will be an all-in-one human family all together.
Larrea: That’s what we feel is right for our Pride. There is nothing wrong with the others.
Fernandez: Yeah, there’s nothing bad to say about other Prides. We just want to do this a little bit different and be great and special as one. We will have artists and talent, trans, gay men, lesbians, queer, all the letters on the main stage.
You’ve said Hialeah Pride is the next step for equality in South Florida. What do you mean?
Larrea: Equality is across the board. All the letters for us are equal and all the letters matter. In our community some of the letters can seem more important than others. We are including our straight allies as well.
Fernandez: Nothing like this has been done in the past. We believe this is breaking ground and it’s going to make history. The city is fully onboard and the mayor is super excited – he thinks it’s great. Hialeah Park thinks it’s amazing and is onboard and ecstatic.
Larrea: Everyone that we have said this to, including other presidents of the Pride boards, have wondered why it hasn’t happened before. We are opening lines and educating people. Businesses are super excited and completely onboard.
Anything else you’d like our readers to know?
Larrea: As part of the event we will be sponsoring scholarships for LGBTQ youth within Hialeah schools. Youth and community is a huge mission of ours. And it’s all about making history. It’s two women who have founded this Pride. We love our boys and our committee has bi, trans, women, gay men – what are they lacking, what do they want? And our straight allies. It’s about being all-inclusive.
Fernandez: From traveling I’ve done so many Prides where it’s very open and where it’s not as open. At smaller Prides they are so much more appreciative of the support. Florida really isn’t that open: there is still a lot of room to grow.