Reinventing Pride Fort Lauderdale after a series of scandals and fiascoes is no easy feat. The fact that Miik Martorell was able to do so, and then build on that success the following year is quite an accomplishment.
But rather than merely bask in the glow of his success Martorell and many of the volunteer board members have been traveling to, and volunteering at Pride festivals across the country, at their own expense.
“We’ve learned a lot,” Martorell said. “Words cannot express the thrill that came with volunteering at New York Pride, where 1.5 million people came together for a day, and at events in small cities where Pride is that one day each year when residents can come out and celebrate their sexual orientation and gender identity. These trips also offered an opportunity to promote our own event with Pride organizers across the country.”
This so-called Pride Tour travels to Pride events and festivals around the country to study best practices and further develop relationships.
Martorell has visited or volunteered at more than 50 different Prides in the U.S., Puerto Rico, Canada, Spain and Denmark (all on his own dime). According to Martorelli, these visits are not only a chance to promote Fort Lauderdale’s Pride celebration, they also provide an opportunity to lend a hand and learn from other Pride organizations.
"That's the beauty of the Pride movement," he said. "We all have so much to share with each other and Pride Fort Lauderdale benefits from the great ideas and best practices we pick up on the Pride Tour."
Since June, volunteers have participated in more than a dozen Pride festivals including New York City, Baltimore, San Francisco, San Diego and Dallas, as well as smaller communities such as Roanoke, Virginia.
In coming months, they will travel to Atlanta, Las Vegas and Palm Springs.
For more distant Prides, they travel by air. Most travel is done at board members’ expense,many use their own, or donated frequent flier miles or credit card points.
When they arrive at their destination they share accommodations, often three and four or more to a room. Martorell and the board have been very cognizant of not using excessive funds from their budget to subsidize travel, accommodations or meals on Pride Tour trips. Only about 1 percent of their budget is used to send extra volunteers to some of the bigger prides.
Generally, two to six people will attend an event, depending on its size, expense and ease of traveling and availability. In addition to staffing the booth, volunteers help with set-up and tear-down, served as money runners and finance managers, worked as parade marshals, and ticket sales. The members roll up their sleeves and get involved, to see what works best and pick up new ideas, many of which end up incorporated into PFL.
At the Pride Fort Lauderdale booth at these festivals, visitors can pick up information about PFL, area restaurants, clubs, attractions, and enter to win an all-expenses paid trip for two to PFL by visiting the group’s Facebook page.
Next year’s Pride Fort Lauderdale will take place Feb. 21-24. Visit PrideFortLauderdale.org for more information.