Gay8 is a free street festival Sunday to celebrate LGBT art, music and culture in the heart of Calle Ocho between 14th and 17th avenues.
Friday night at Ball & Chain, the Gay8 festival committee honored four Miamians who’ve had longtime, lasting influences on the LGBT community with Pa’Lante Awards. (Pa’Lante is Spanish slang, short for para adelante or to push or move forward.)
▪ Publicist and events promoter Louis Canales, “arguably one of the creators of South Beach,” according to Gay8 co-founder Damian Pardo. “He was the person who looked at the Beach and said, ‘When I look at the Beach, I see the French Riviera.’ It was his vision that over time transformed into this international destination.”
▪ Feminist and LGBT activist Julia Dawson, who worked (unsuccessfully) for passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and (successfully) for Miami-Dade County’s gay-inclusive human rights ordinance in 1998. “Here’s another person who made it almost a brand in her life — equality and the struggle for equality,” Pardo said.
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▪ Attorney Richard Gonzalez, a co-founder of LGBT-rights group SAVE. “Here’s somebody who’s been an activist his entire adult life, contributing with time, money, ideas, energy — and really tedious work,” Pardo said.
▪ Attorney H.T. Smith, a straight African American activist who also lobbied for Miami-Dade’s human rights ordinance. “He just didn’t show up and give a speech in 1998. He was a pioneer in the African-American community with his views on the LGBT community and he continues to do that today with transgender and many other topics that are poorly understood,” Pardo said.