Florida Youth Pride Coalition is hosting its annual Icon Awards, Saturday, Jan. 20. The seated dinner and awards program begins at 8 p.m. at Signature Grand in Davie.
In a telephone conference call with SFGN, Matthew Eaton said Florida Youth Pride Coalition’s mission is to educate, empower, encourage and energize LGBT youth and their allies. Eaton serves as the organization’s executive president.
“We want to educate and empower them to be able to do whatever it is they want to do once they are growing up -- whether it be in their personal or professional lives -- and the way we do that is we have various types of events that are cultural events and community events that we participate in as an organization,” Eaton said.
The Icon Awards is a vehicle to raise money while honoring distinguished people. Honorees this year are: Broward County Commissioner Dr. Barbara Sharief, transgender activist Arianna Lint, Stonewall National Museum & Archives Executive Director Chris Rudisill, Hotspots Magazine publisher Scott Holland, psychologist Billy Urich, Jamaican activist Taneitha Brown, straight ally Edith Lederberg and youth Taja Walker, Carlton Granston, Hannah Thomas, Zion Sylvester and Amanda Arroyo. Bishop S.F. Makalani-MaHee, a transgender activist, is being honored posthumously.
Dr. Sonja Mitchell, Chairwoman of Florida Youth Pride Coalition, said youth benefit from the organization in many ways.
“We create leaders that have no boundaries when it comes to love and taking care of each other and the community,” Mitchell said. “They get to unify themselves with youth of all ages and doing different things in the community.”
“The outcome is to be leaders of tomorrow,” Mitchell said. “Great leaders of tomorrow.”
While recruiting volunteers for Pride South Florida, Mitchell said she noticed community events tended to be largely focused on adult activities.
“We didn’t have a resourceful and strong youth leadership in the community,” Mitchell said. “And so I started thinking what are we doing with our youth? What is our legacy? What are we leaving behind? What are we teaching our youth? We are not just bars and parades. We are bigger than that. Somebody has to take the initiative and start something where our youth can be proud of themselves and do what I’m doing and not wait until my age to do it.”
Urich is a clinical psychologist working in the field of mental health and addictions. He has traveled globally to assist LGBT communities.
“Over here (USA) we look at it as a parade, but it other countries it’s a civil rights march,” Urich said.
Urich helped organize the first “walk for tolerance” in Jamaica and assisted in a similar role for pride activities in Belgrade, Serbia. He said youth groups and learning are paramount to the advancement of a higher quality of life for LGBT people.
“It is not possible to know where we are going if we don’t know where we’ve come from,” Urich said. “Yes, we can get married now but that was not always the case and many people fought for that right.”
Miami Herald journalist Steve Rothaus is emceeing the event which includes musical performances. Tickets are $100. Doors open at 7 p.m. at Signature Grand, 6900 State Road 84, Davie, FL 33317.
For more information, visit www.floridayouthpride.com