In a spectacular event that evoked at times a similar ceremony held ten years ago, gay and lesbian business and community leaders celebrated the Pride Center at Equality Park’s official ribbon cutting on Friday, February 12.
Said Robert Boo, Development Director for the Pride Center: “The response was overwhelmingly positive. We are so encouraged to have so many tireless and engaged supporters.”
Gay and gay-friendly elected and municipal officials joined hundreds of activists and local GLBT South Floridians to commemorate the contributions and efforts of the Center’s staff, directors, and benefactors.
Those attending included some of the most influential members of South Florida’s GLBT community, including Broward County Mayor Ken Keechl, the nation’s second highest-ranking gay elected official, Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick, and Oakland Park Vice Mayor Anthony Niedwiecki.
Also in attendance were Wilton Manors Chief of Police Rick Perez and Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderly, as well as the organization’s board of directors and staff.
The Pride Center at Equality Park was founded in 1993 as the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of South Florida. Over the years, the Center has provided a variety of services to the GLBT community, including telephone crisis counseling, suicide prevention, information and referral services, as well as HIV testing and medical study groups.
For many, the ceremony brought to mind the June 2000 ribbon cutting for the original GLCC, a 16,000 square foot facility at 1717 North Andrews Avenue. That building was also the site of the Stonewall Library, one of the nation’s largest collections of GLBT literature. The Stonewall Library has also since moved, to East Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale.
Resnick, who issued a proclamation on behalf of the City of Wilton Manors, was one of those present at the GLCC ribbon cutting 10 years ago.
For many, the most striking part of the ceremony was the large group who attended.
“Love it,” said Al Cicotte, managing partner at American Tax and Investment in Wilton Manors. “This is representative of the economic clout represented in this population.”
Christopher Dunham, president of Dunham Insurance Services in Fort Lauderdale, agreed.
“Even in a tough economic recovery, you can see professionals in this community are committing their resources to important projects like this,” Dunham said.
“We are grateful for the quality of our benefactors and board members,” says the Pride Center’s Boo. “All of the people who have been involved—both financially and operationally—have left an indelible mark on what we do here.”
Even the sudden downpour at the ceremony’s conclusion didn’t dampen the spirits of the crowd. As he was leaving, Dan Pye, an investment vice president with Morgan Stanley, said “they should all be very proud of the turnout and the level of support.”