Highly Anticipated Pride Fort Lauderdale Arrives!

Pride Fort Lauderdale, SFGN File Photo

This weekend will be packed full of activities, so open up the calendar app on your phone and start taking notes! It all begins Friday, Feb. 22 with Pride on the Drive as area bars, restaurants and businesses offers specials and parties to welcome the nearly 50,000 additional folks Fort Lauderdale Pride is expected to bring to the area. 

Saturday is so full of activities that you’ll have a hard time deciding what to do. The day begins with “B3: Bear Beach Bash” starting at noon. Music and entertainment will be provided by “My Big Funny Peter,” aka Peter Bisuito, the world’s first gay muscle bear comedian. There will be hot muscle bear go-go dancers dancing to DJ Herbie James, and more on the Sebastian Beach stage! It’s a casual afternoon party with a cash bar and a food truck. 

Pride Fort Lauderdale has the honor of being the first ever parade down A1A. Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay mayor, Dean Trantalis, and Stonewall eyewitness and transgender activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy have been selected as the grand marshals. 

"Our parade – the first parade ever held on SR A1A along Fort Lauderdale Beach – is historic and we wanted to honor two people who have played important roles in our history as our first grand marshals," explained Pride President Miik Martorell.

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy was in the Stonewall Inn on the night of the brutal police raid that finally sparked drag queens and transgender people to rise up against oppression. Those riots would inspire the modern gay civil rights movement. Miss Major has devoted her life to promoting transgender rights and serving the community. Now a resident of Arkansas, she is the subject of an award-winning documentary, "Major!," currently available on Netflix.

Mayor Dean Trantalis made history last year when he became the first openly gay mayor of Fort Lauderdale. Throughout his public service career, Mayor Trantalis has always been an advocate for the LGBT community and already demonstrated that he can effectively build bridges between the diverse residents of our city and region.

“As the LGBT+ community prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Pride Fort Lauderdale is reminded of the progress we have made. We are especially honored to have Miss Major Griffin-Gracy as one of our grand marshals. She is one of the few eyewitnesses to that pivotal moment in history who is still with us 50 years later. Miss Major is a hero to all LGBT+ people and we're proud to honor her,” Martorellsaid.

The parade, with the theme, “Carnaval,” will step off at 5:30 p.m. at Sebastian Beach near Windamar St. and proceed down the northbound lanes of SR A1A to Fort Lauderdale Beach Park. Due to the limited time allowed for the parade on SR A1A, only a limited number of entries have been allowed. Since this is the first parade ever held on Fort Lauderdale Beach, organizers have no idea exactly how many folks will attend, but estimates are as high as 80,000 spectators along the route. 

There are a limited number of VIP tickets available for the Parade hospitality tent. The tent will be located on the sand near the parade stage at Las Olas Blvd and A1A. This area features a bar and a place to get out of the sun close to the main stage and the center of all the action from noon until 6 p.m. and complimentary premium drinks all day (while inside the tent area only).

Tickets are $75 and a limited number of tickets are available and once they are sold out, no more will be available.

After the parade, dance under the stars to the sounds of DJ Dani Toro from Spain at the first Pride Block Party on 5th St. at Seabreeze Blvd. (A1A). There will be hot boy and girl dancers and special performances all evening long. It’s going to be an epic evening on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Free, $5 donation requested.

The next day’s festival, Fort Lauderdale Pride, is expected to bring more than 120,000 visitors to Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, Sunday, Feb. 24, from noon until 8 p.m. The festival includes world-renowned entertainers on two stages, more than 100 local and national exhibitors, a food court, and of course, the world-class beaches of Fort Lauderdale. 

This year’s entertainment line-up includes Todrick Hall. He first gained attention on the ninth season of “American Idol,” where he made it to the semi-finals. He then began producing and starring in parody videos that he posted on YouTube, which went viral. He has also served as a judge/choreographer on “RuPaul's Drag Race” and has released several albums. Showing his versatility, Hall starred on Broadway, both as Lola in “Kinky Boots” and Billy Flynn in “Chicago.” 

Joining Hall will be another “American Idol” fan favorite, Ada Vox, the incredible

San Antonio-based singer and drag queen. Ada became a semi-finalist on “American Idol” after numerous attempts, both in and out of drag. Vox has released her first single “Because of You.”

The Greater Fort Lauderdale CVB is offering VIP tickets for the festival. By popular demand, VIP Lounge has been enlarged since last year. The VIP tickets, $100 until Feb. 23, and $125 at the Festival (if available) allows access to the covered VIP area, Special VIP viewing, complimentary drinks and VIP restrooms as well as cocktails compliments of Tito’s Handmade Vodka. There are a limited number of tickets available and once they are sold out, no more will be available.

The celebration concludes at 7:45 p.m. with a stunning fireworks display on the beach. Proceeds are used to help fund future Pride events and any remaining funds go back out into the community in the form of grants.

Parking can be difficult and expensive along the beach. There will be free shuttles from Hagen Park and the Brightline station (but not from the Galleria and Clay Shaw parking lots, as in the past despite what is indicated on the Pride website). Parking is free until 6 p.m. at the Hagen lot. If you plan to stay for the parade and park in the Hagen lot, make certain to have the remote parking app installed on your phone and note your space number. For more information on all Pride Events, go to PrideFortLauderdale.org.

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(Pride Fort Lauderdale, SFGN Stock Photo)

Fort Lauderdale Pride Schedule

Wednesday, Feb. 20

 Official pre-pride mixer, “Goddess of the River Drag Challenge," Flip Flops – 6 p.m.

Three drag queens, each in their own boats, compete for the title in this outrageous aquatic fundraiser and paddleboarders and kayakers will vote for their favorite performers. 

Thursday, Feb. 21

Runway Fashion Show, Hard Rock Event Center – 7 p.m. Trunk Show, 8 p.m.

Official Thursday Night Party,Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar, 9 p.m. 

Celebrate Pride with your friends at Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar in the Shoppes of Wilton Manors, famous for their Thursday night $3 Long Island iced teas. 

Friday, Feb. 22

Pride Pool Party, Courtyard by Marriott Fort Lauderdale Beach – 11 a.m.

Looking for some fun on Friday afternoon before Pride on the Drive? The Courtyard by Marriott on Fort Lauderdale Beach is hosting an afternoon party on the upper pool deck overlooking the beach.

Pride on the Drive –6 p.m.

A complete list of participating businesses will be posted at PrideFortLauderdale.org.

Afterglow– Wilton Theater Factory, 8 p.m. 

An open marriage gets complicated in this Off Broadway hit by S. Asher Gelman. Catch this Ronnie Larsen Presents production at the Wilton Theater Factory in Wilton Manors, running through March 10. 

Sexy cirque troupe AirOtic at Sunshine Cathedral

This high-flying act offers an LGBT+ flavor in each mesmerizing performance. (Repeats Saturday, Feb. 23, 8 p.m.) Tickets at OutlandishFL.com.

Stonewall National Museum & Archives Gala– 7 p.m.

The Stonewall National Museum & Archives marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots at its annual gala at the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale Beach. Actress and activist Kathy Najimy (“Sister Act”) will be the guest speaker for the gala, which also includes a silent auction, dinner and entertainment. 

Saturday, Feb. 23

Drag Brunch – 11:30 a.m. at the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale Beach. 

Tickets are $125 each.

B3: Bear Beach Bash – noon

See hot muscle bear go-go dancers and more on the Sebastian Beach stage! 

Carnaval Drag & Dine Parties– noon.

The festival gets started early at the many hotels and restaurants along SR A1A (and you can beat the traffic for the parade). Participating businesses will be offering entertainment, drink and food specials all afternoon.

Carnaval Parade– 5:30 p.m.

Take part in the Pride Fort Lauderdale Parade on A1A from Sebastian Beach to Fort Lauderdale Beach Park. 

Carnaval Parties

The festival gets started early at the many hotels and restaurants along SR A1A (and you can beat the traffic for the parade). Participating businesses will be offering entertainment, drink and food specials all afternoon.

  • Parade Party, Courtyard by Marriott, noon – 5:30 p.m., 954-635-4120.
  • Brunch and Parade Viewing Party, Rock Bar, noon – 5:30 p.m. 
  • She Tea, Official Women’s Party, Spazio, 3 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. 
  • Latin T-Dance, Cafe Ibiza, 3 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. 

Pride Block Party – 7 p.m. – 10 p.m.

5th St. and A1A.

Sunday, Feb. 24

Retox Brunch, W Fort Lauderdale Beach, 11a.m. – 2 p.m.

Tickets at RetoxBrunch.Eventbrite.com

Beach Festival– noon – 8 p.m.

Fireworks showat 7:45 p.m. $5 donation requested at the gate.

OUTshine’s Big Night Out, 7 p.m.

The Manor hosts as OUTshine LGBT Film Festival celebrates Hollywood’s biggest night, the Oscars, with a gala watch party at the area’s largest LGBT+ nightclub. Tickets at OutShineFilm.com.

SFGN Anita Bryant

(Anita Bryant, Via Anita Bryant)

From Anita to Ada Vox: A History of Fort Lauderdale Pride

Anita Bryant was a former Miss America runner-up and third-rate singer who made a series of television commercials for Florida orange juice. Today she is most remembered today for her vehement opposition to anti-discrimination ordinances in South Florida, which sparked a backlash from the gay community nationally and which led to the creation of South Florida Pride.

In 1977, Florida’s Dade County (now Miami-Dade County) passed a human-rights ordinance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In response to this, Bryant led a highly publicized campaign to repeal the ordinance and it was overturned.

The following day, Bryant stated, “In victory, we shall not be vindictive. We shall continue to seek help and change for homosexuals; whose sick and sad values belie the word ‘gay’ which they pathetically use to cover their unhappy lives.” Bryant led several more campaigns around the country to repeal local anti-discrimination ordinances.

In response to Bryant’s campaign, a coalition formed that planned and organized a protest celebration for National Gay Pride Day on June 28, 1977. Several hundred people marched through Coconut Grove carrying signs and shouting slogans. From that protest Gay Pride in South Florida was born. Bryant eventually lost her endorsement deal with the Florida Orange Growers Association, due to protests from the community and allies, and faded into obscurity.

In 1978 activists collected enough names to put the gay rights ordinance back on the ballot, the first time in U.S. history that gays and lesbians used the political system to place a pro-gay initiative on an electoral ballot. The referendum was defeated, but the 1978 Pride march and rally grew to 1,500. The march occurred annually in Miami and continued to grow in size and scope.

It took 20 years, but in 1998 Dade County re-authorized an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Although the early marches were in Dade County, the Broward County Coalition for Human Rights was always an active participant.  

In 1991 the committee adopted the name Pride South Florida. PrideFest stayed at the Coconut Grove Exhibition Center, but the parade and rally were moved to Fort Lauderdale for the first time. In 1992 the rally moved to the Broward County Convention Center out of the summer heat and rain. It remained there until 1995 when it moved to the War Memorial Auditorium and surrounding area in Holiday Park. Summer rain and heat were a continuing problem for Pride. The rainy season frequently canceled the Parade. In 1998, Pride South Florida split Pride and moved PrideFest from June to February and moved to Mills Pond Park and drew over 11,000 people.

After a heated town meeting in 2000, Pride South Florida decided to move the parade and associated festivities to February. A few years ago, there was a battle for control of South Florida’s pride events. In the aftermath, two pride celebrations were developed. Wilton Manors hosts its Stonewall Festival and Parade in June.

After a short period of dormancy, Pride Fort Lauderdale emerged, reinvigorated and reinvented as an ocean-front festival under the leadership of Miik Martorell. Now in its third year the festival will make history as it celebrates its 40th Anniversary with t first parade down A1A.

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(Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, who will be one of the grand marshals of the parade.Photo credit: Quinn dombrowski via Flickr)


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