From political divisiveness over same-sex marriage came unity for 400 people Saturday night in Miami Shores.
“It’s an exciting time as our society grows in acceptance of diversity and we are here tonight to welcome and celebrate some needed change in Miami Shores,” said Robert Bourne, chairman of the first Unity Ball, a sold-out dinner held Saturday at Miami Shores Country Club.
A feud between gay marriage supporters and opponents last summer in Miami Shores forced the cancellation of the longtime Mayor’s Ball and creation of the Unity Ball. The village has the 12th-largest population of same-sex households of small cities in the United States.
The Mayor’s Ball was canceled after two volunteers chairing the event backed out when the village failed to pass a non-binding resolution in July supporting marriage equality. In September, the council revisited the resolution and approved it, 4-1.
“This might have been the single most influential experience in my life, in a 100 percent positive way and that’s through you,” said Connor Space, 17, a senior and president of the gay-straight alliance at Miami Country Day School. “I have been completely shocked by the great response that has come from the village and the members of the community.”
Connor, who spoke in favor of same-sex marriage at the September village council meeting, believes the fight and effort against discrimination is helping to mold and shapes today’s children.
“It’s very special to me to know that those kids are going to live and grow in a place where equality is promoted and being who you are is OK,” he said.
The Unity Ball featured cocktails, dinner and performances by National Young Arts Foundation alumni, DJ Jody McDonald and Adora, one of Miami’s best-known drag queens.
The ball, with a silent auction, helped raise $80,000 for local grants and charities supportive of LGBT equality, organizers say.
“If you look around this room, how can anybody say that diversity is not a positive thing,” Bourne said.
Click here to view and tag photos in a Facebook album from the 2014 Miami Shores Unity Ball.