The party’s been over for months, but Miik Martorell said Pride Fort Lauderdale’s “proudest moment” was miles from the sun and surf of Fort Lauderdale Beach Park – the site of this year’s Pride Fort Lauderdale festival in February.
On June 21 at ArtServe in Fort Lauderdale, Pride Fort Lauderdale held its 2017 Community Grants Award Reception and handed out 10 grants worth $1,000 each to 10 different organizations that are either LGBT or are doing something with an LGBT focus.
“It’s more than just a party. It’s supposed to be something significant,” said Martorell, president of Pride. “There’s really some beautiful projects.” These are also the first grants that Pride Fort Lauderdale has awarded in three years. Martorell said he hopes the organization can keep awarding grants for many years to come. To help do that, he said the costs of the award ceremony were cut to a “bare minimum” so that as much money as possible could go back into the community.
By awarding the grants, Pride Fort Lauderdale “hopes to put a spotlight on [LGBT] organizations and issues” that may not be widely known to the LGBT community or others.
One of the recipients is TransSOCIAL. Founded by Morgan Mayfaire, a female to male transgender individual, and his wife, Ashley, TransSOCIAL is a support and advocacy group for the transgender community. The grant given to the organization will be used to fund its Trans Name Change Project.
Morgan Mayfaire said that the cost of changing an individual’s name in his or her government records, including driver’s license, Social Security, and passport, can be about $800. It’s a cost that many transgender individuals have trouble paying for.
“Many don’t qualify for waivers of fees. Unemployment [which leads to a lack of funds] is a really big problem [in the transgender community],” said Morgan.
TransSOCIAL also attends court hearings with individuals applying for a name change.
“It’s very intimidating when you have to appear before a judge,” Ashley Mayfaire said.
Mark Kent, executive director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, said he hopes the grant awarded to his organization, which will help underwrite the 2017-2018 season, will bring the transgender community and all other communities together through the power of music.
“Music is a shared human endeavor. I think when people share music together, they share their humanity together. He also considers the Gay Men’s Chorus, and its mission to focus on programming in schools, as an example of how much more “relaxed” people have become about the LGBT community. “It’s a reflection of how far we’ve come.”
The progress of the LGBT community will also be on display during a 2018 art exhibit organized by the Broward Art Guild. Gerard Delaney, executive director of the Broward Art Guild, said the grant his organization received would be used to fund an exhibit that showcases historic photos of the “gay struggle.”
The exhibit would also feature health resources for the LGBT community, including information on HIV/AIDS and teen suicide prevention. “Art serving a bigger purpose, I always say,” Delaney said.
The other grant recipients are New Beginnings, Poverello, Pride Center, SAGE of South Florida, South Florida Pride Wind Ensemble, and SunServe. “It’s pretty well-rounded,” Martorell said.