Following the success of a two-day virtual Pride festival last month, South Florida Pride organizations are continuing the celebration through the month of June with a series of live-streamed, weekly happy hour concerts.
After the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation or postponement of their festivals, Miami Beach Pride, Gay Ocho Festival, Pride Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride and Compass/Palm Beach Pride formed the South Florida Pride Collective and took to Facebook Live and Twitch on May 9 - 10 to offer an alternative during the shutdown.
The virtual festival featured live and recorded performances by more than 90 singers, entertainers and drag artists and attracted 65,000 views around the world. The effort also raised nearly $15,000 for COVID-19 relief. Proceeds were divided equally between the organizations and have funded food and personal hygiene items, health and wellness services and financial grants for people who lost their jobs or were affected by the economic shutdown.
“The virtual pride festival was such a big success. With Pride month coming up, we saw the opportunity to go beyond parties and continue to address the urgent needs in our community as they related to COVID,” said Damian Pardo, founder of the Gay Ocho Festival and coordinator of the new series.
The Friday evening happy hour concerts, June 5 – 26 from 5 – 7 p.m., will feature the most popular performers from the May festival with donations again benefitting the Pride Collective’s COVID-19 relief efforts.
Among the scheduled performers are Emmy and Grammy winner Albita, international recording artist Cascada, jazz superstar Nicole Henry, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” fan favorite Latrice Royale, dance music artist Lucy Grau, and gay singer Steve Grand.
During the broadcasts, the Pride Collective organizations will also address racism, social justice and the massive public protests that resulted following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
“Pride Month celebrates the Stonewall Riots, triggered by police brutality against LGBTQ people more than 50 years ago,” explained Pardo. “With the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, we realized we needed to encourage real conversations and focus on change.”
Gay Ocho will be donating their proceeds to Circle of Brotherhood, a Miami-Dade organization dedicated to community service, economic development, crime prevention, conflict resolution and mediation, educational services, and youth mentorship in the African-American community.
Morgan Stanley is the presenting sponsor for the series, along with iHeart Radio, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and Jack Daniels, and donations are being collected by Our Fund Foundation in Wilton Manors.
The South Florida Pride Collective presents streaming Pride Month Happy Hour Concerts on Fridays from June 5 – 26 at 5 p.m. at Facebook.com/PrideCollectives and on their website at PrideCollectives.com. Tax-deductible donations can be made online or by texting SFLPRIDE to 44321.
SFGN arts and entertainment editor J.W. Arnold is also executive director of Pride Fort Lauderdale.