Celebrate Orgullo, the annual festival saluting Latino and LGBT people and culture by UNITY COALITION|COALICIÓN UNIDA, launched its 11th iteration Oct. 1 — kicking off a 15-day slate of events commemorating the Art of Ilusión, exploring how drag, creativity, talent and self-expression influence the daily lives of the LGBT community.
“The history of drag is an evolution from a common theater practice to an award-winning form of entertainment that has gained legitimacy both on a national and international stage,” said a representative of Celebrate Orgullo in a prepared statement.
The first person to describe himself as “the queen of drag” in the U.S. was William Dorsey Swann, born enslaved in Hancock, Maryland, who in the 1880s started also hosting drag balls in Washington, D.C. attended by other men who were former slaves, and often raided by the police, as documented in the newspapers.
Drag as an art form has exploded largely thanks to the life and career of Andre Charles of the reality show, “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which has become the face of reality television and has helped change the history of drag.
The following are the list of events beginning Friday, Oct. 1 and ending Friday, Oct. 15:
Friday, Oct. 1, Dragtivism/ LGBTQ Town Hall: Community and drag leaders from Colombia, Los Ángeles, New York City. Miami and more come together for a virtual and in-person conversation on laws, rights, challenges and what can be done to “make life better for all.”
Saturday, Oct. 2, Art Diva Bus Tours, Part 1: The Halls of Drag Gallery Exhibit, featuring South Florida’s most infamous costumes and the divas that made them come to life; includes lunch and a drag selfie area; hosted by local drag entertainer and bus diva CC Glitzser.
Wednesday, Oct. 6, American drag artist William Dorsey Swann: Choreographer Randolph Ward creates an interpretive performance in memory of American drag artist William Dorsey Swann. The interpretive performance takes place at the historic Hampton House, the setting for the film, “One Night in Miami.” This event honors Swann, an American gay liberation activist in the 1850s, who was born into slavery and was the first person in the United States to lead a queer resistance group, as well as the first-known person to self-identify as a "queen of drag." Event includes a presentation of CAŌBA Video Archives Project, LAHLO men’s apparel fashion show Premium Open Bar.
Saturday, Oct. 9, Art Diva Bus Tours, Part 2: Visit the Adrienne Arsht Center Theater in Miami for a VIP behind-the-scenes tour of the world-famous stage, rehearsal spaces and dressing rooms of drag entertainers, learn all of their secrets and get a swag bag to take home; hosted by local drag queen and bus diva, Nelly Norell.
Friday, Oct. 15, Night of a 1,000ish Stars Concert and Drive-in Movie: Featuring music and dancing from freestyle queen Cynthia (“DreamBoy,” “Change on Me”), Patrick & the Swayzees from Key West, Richie Rosario, Imperium the First, DJ Adora, MC’s CC Glitzer, John Buckley and Kishi Chad. Also featuring illusionists Jah, Jasmine & Karla; Legends Honors recipient Randolph Ward; a concession stand; and a viewing of the Miami drag film, “The Birdcage,” starring the late Robin Williams; $40 per car.
All profits from this year’s Celebrate Orgullo festival directly benefit the MicroGiving Incubator Fund for the LGBT community and year-round Unity Coalition programming and services. UC|CU’s MicroGiving Incubator Fund is about community building, (Re)Start-Up Support and Hope, not Handouts; providing funds and mentorship for business start-ups, “continued education and life’s unexpected emergencies … our program has successfully given back to the community over $80,000 since its inception,” said Herb Sosa, director and CEO of Unity Coalition.
“We know that times are unpredictable and finances are less than desirable right now, but we must ALL carry the responsibility of moving forward and leading our communities out of this unimaginable crisis.
Please consider sponsorship of the 11th annual Celebrate Orgullo Festival today,” Sosa said.
Unity Coalition is a Florida non-profit whose focus is the leadership, protection and promotion of the Latinx|Hispanic and indigenous LGBT community.
“The only organization of its kind since 2002,” Sosa said.
“Celebrating our 11th year, Celebrate Orgullo continues to reinvent and lead the way on showcasing our incredible Hispanic and indigenous LGBTQ+ community. I could not be prouder of our legacy, programming and events ahead this year,” Sosa said.