The styled hair and bold makeup, flowing outfits, and teenagers grooving bass-pumping music are all elements of a typical Quinceañera party.
What’s not typical is when the participants are closer to 51-years-old instead of 15. And instead of gifts for one person, many members of South Florida LGBT youth will benefit.
“The idea started out as a joke for my 51st birthday. I thought that would make a really fun fundraiser,” says Julian Cavazos. He recruited friends, male and female, straight and gay, to dress up in drag for the event. “Each one had to come up with a persona and their name exemplified that persona. That was the first time wives, family would see them dressed as women and they had to come out in a Quinceañera dress. It was a hit!”
This Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale, will be the 10th anniversary of Cavazos’ Reverse Quinceañera party and it has a matrimonial theme. “Everyone is encouraged to come in white wedding dresses.” While it is a plot point from the hit TV show “Pose,” Cavazos says he came up with the idea independently in 2020. “I had never seen the show. Then I binge-watched it and in the last one there is a scene with a wedding, and all the guests were white wedding dresses. I was like, ‘Wow I did it first.’”
The night will begin at 6 p.m. with the White Wedding Marching of the Brides from the GALLERYone Hotel to the mall. Cavazos says the wedding theme goes along with the annual installment of his telenovela web series. This year’s episode is Myrna’s White Wedding. Fans of the series, which stars local celebrities including Mark Hunter, owner of Hunters Nightclub, have followed Myrna for years through betrayal and revenge. This year there’s going to be a shooting. “It’s a total Who Shot JR moment,” Cavazos teased.
The event benefits Julian’s Fountain of Youth (JFOY), Cavazos’ organization that teaches LGBT youth skills and gives them a safe space to be themselves, as well as send them on character-building excursions. He makes a point to make sure they help staff the Wilton Collective, his consignment shop on Wilton Drive. There they work with vendors and artists to learn skills in everything from business to bike repair.
To learn more about the Reverse Quinceañera and the work of JFOY, visit jfoy.org.