South Florida’s large gay community is celebrating the fifth annual Miami Beach Gay Pride festival at what might be a pivot point in history.
The military has ended its ban on gays openly serving. A majority of U.S. senators (as well as a majority of Americans) have expressed support for same-sex marriage. And in June, the Supreme Court could provide the capstone, a ruling that the federal government must recognize those unions.
“We will look back on 2013 as the year equality for the LGBT community became real,” said Gary Burton, a Grammy-winning vibraphonist from Fort Lauderdale. “I used to wonder if I would live long enough to see this milestone, but here it is!”
This confluence of change has energized gays and their friends, relatives and supporters. Organizers say they expect 80,000 (20,000 more than last year) to attend the festival, which began Monday when a rainbow flag was raised over Miami Beach City Hall.
We asked lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists and their allies why they’re proud. Within two days we heard from more than 100 people by email, Facebook and the Public Insight Network (PIN). Here’s a sampling of responses:
Steve Adkins, Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce president: “I am amazed at our legislative progress and, the unity within our community. I could never have predicted even 10 years ago that we would have made such strides in the areas of employment, adoption and, marriage equality.”
Chris Aguilar, human resources administrator: "The gay community has grown so much and become so tight, it has made the gay movement accelerate immensely. Our rights as human beings period are slowly but surely being honored and respected."
Paolo Ambu, businessman: “As the Miami Beach Gay Pride parade director I'm particularly proud for the enthusiasm and continuous support we receive from our LGBT community and supporters that come together every year to make Miami Beach Gay Pride Parade the huge success that it is today.”
Vix Araujo, social media specialist: “I am really proud of the Miami Beach Gay Pride festival now in its fifth year because it unites the local LGBT community and its allies.”
Chip Arndt, businessman and activist: “I am not so much proud to be gay as I am proud to be all that I am, which encompasses me being a gay man. As I say to people: ‘I didn't choose to be gay. I just got lucky!’”
Andrea Askowitz, writer and Lip Service co-creator: “I’m proud to be gay because I’m proud to be true about who and what I am.”
Thomas Barker, events promoter: “I am so proud of how hard our community and our allies have fought to get to where we are today, and I am proud to not only be gay but also be a part of a generation that will experience LGBT equality in my lifetime.”
Michael Bath, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force events director: “I’m proud to be LGBT every year, but 2013 is extra-special because it is the first year that began with a sitting president not only saying he supports our rights but actually taking action to help us get them.”
Lynn Bove, events promoter: “I'm proud to be part of the LGBT community because it makes me feel inspired. I see our beautiful diversity, creativity and the strength of our conviction and it inspires and propels me to do more for our community.”