Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade

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By: Ian Maloney

The LGBTQ Community brings all the colors of the rainbow to Ocean Drive and everyone has a gay old time!

For the past 10 years, the beginning of April has seen Miami Beach’s LGBTQ community come together to show their pride. Miami Beach Gay Pride started as a neighborhood event with a relatively “small” crowd of 15,000 people. But it has exploded into an international event drawing over 150,000 people to a long weekend of activities, culminating in a two-day festival on the sands of the beach and a parade up famed Ocean Drive.

The 2018 Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade took place on Sunday, April 8, with a record-breaking 3,000 participants and 90 entries. Things stepped off on 5th Street with crowds lining the entire length of Ocean Drive on both sides of the street. An estimated 100,000 viewers were on hand.

The parade was led by Celebrity Grand Marshal, Winter Olympian, Gus Kenworthy. Kenworthy, who won a silver medal in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, came out in 2015. This year, he made history by becoming one of the first American Olympians to compete after sharing his truth with the world. He gained internet stardom for his bromance with fellow 2018 Winter Olympian Adam Rippon, as well as for “the kiss seen round the world,” which Kenworthy shared with his hunky beau Matthew Wilkas — broadcast live on NBC in prime time. Wilkas joined Kenworthy in Miami Beach for his duties as Grand Marshal and the two were spotted around town all weekend showing their love and pride.

Joining Kenworthy, as Ally Grand Marshal, was NBC 6 Miami’s Roxanne Vargas, a ten-time Emmy Award nominee and host of “6 in the Mix.” Vargas is the longtime host of the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade and is a true ally to the LGBT community. She is the face of NBC 6’s commitment to South Florida’s LGBT community and she is often a guest of honor at the community’s events throughout the year. She was stunned live on the air when Pride’s Executive Director Dave Cook and board member Richard Murray announced she would be honored this year as Ally Grand Marshal.

Presenting sponsor Celebrity Cruises fielded one of the biggest contingencies and most amazing floats in the parade. The “Cirque du Soleil” inspired theme saw participants dangling from a huge “X” that represented the company’s logo. More than 100 Celebrity employees along with their friends and families, marched behind their float carrying a giant rainbow flag that was nearly an entire block long.

The University of Miami took home the prize this year for best float. They were honored with a plaque in a ceremony that took place on April 28. They built a beach hut on their float, complete with a thatched roof and all, and nearly 100 participants from the university marched along with the school’s mascot, Sebastian the Ibis. Joining UM and Celebrity Cruises were tons of other entries in the parade. Entries ran the gamut, representing all aspects of the community, from Jackson Health Systems, who fielded a group of nearly 30 along with two ambulances, to Miami Beach’s famed gay bars Twist and Score, or the city’s gay friendliest hotel, The Gaythering.

One of the most amazing things about the Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade is the fact that so many different people are able to come together to make such an amazing showing for the LGBT community. It is by far the most colorful, happy, and uplifting events to take place on Ocean Drive. However, it is important to remember that everyone who is celebrating pride does so for all of those that have fought so hard for the civil rights of the entire community. The parade honors the memory of the first gay pride march which marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, after the NYC police raided the Stonewall, a gay bar. At the time, it was illegal in NYC to serve gay people alcohol and threats by the police were commonplace. Homosexual activity was criminalized throughout the country and LGBTQ people were harassed, killed, and fired for the “crime” of being gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

No place does Gay Pride like Miami Beach does Gay Pride — and everyone is invited and welcome to come out and show your support for the LGBT community. Wear your rainbow colors or your skimpiest beachwear, or just come as you are. You’ll have a blast!

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