Palette Magazine

South Florida's Best Pride Season 2015 Events

By Grant James

Florida Keys News Bureau

There are a few places you could travel to for a great pride event. West Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Tel Aviv and Sao Paulo all host their own high-volume versions every year. Given the option to choose from a growing number of destinations, most people opt for the one that gives them the most bang for their buck. And you can tan, shop and bask in the diversity of the LGBT community right in South Florida, without having to book a flight.

Pridefest of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches already kicked off the 2015 festivities in late March, and with events in Miami Beach, Wilton Manors and Key West still to come, pride season in the Sunshine State is anything but dull. Our sandy beaches and pristine pools serve as the perfect backdrop for any pride plan, whether you choose a vacation in the Keys or a pool party in South Beach. You can even take the kids to Disney for the weekend and make it a family thing.

Miami Beach

Now in its 6th year, Miami Beach Gay Pride kicks off on April 11th and runs through the following day. The “Two Days of Fun in the Miami Beach Sun” theme was announced by Mark Fernandes, chair of the organizing committee for the festival, so there’s clearly a beach motif going on this year. Mario Lopez will be the Grand Marshal, so if you’re a fan of “Saved By the Bell,” that should be enough incentive to make it out there. More than 80,000 people were in attendance in 2014.

Since its inception, Miami Beach Gay Pride has grown from a small local gathering to a high-profile pride destination. Enlisting the talent of A-list celebrities such as Gloria Estefan (Grand Marshal in 2014), Adam Lambert (who performed in 2013) and dozens of DJs from across the globe, the event always delivers a great time to its thousands of attendees, year after year.

With the inclusion of a parade, live performances, community booths, expo areas, kid-friendly play zones and food and drink vendors, the festival really caters to anyone that supports the LGBT community. For more information, visit miamibeachgaypride.com.

Wilton Manors

Arguably one of the biggest pride events of the season, Wilton Manors Stonewall honors those involved in the Stonewall riots — the 1969 bar raid at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village, New York that led to the beginning of the gay liberation movement.

Waves of folks come to celebrate those who were here before and those who are here now. Stonewall Pride is a joyous day, complete with a parade, live performances and plenty of vendors and drinking spots.

Tucked away on Wilton Drive, this year’s festival closes off the street from June 19-20 for two unforgettable parties. The Twilight Pride Parade will begin at dusk on Friday. Saturday will include an entire day of activities, scheduled from noon until the bars close at 3 a.m. Previous headliners include Andy Bell of Erasure, Amber and Kristine W, among countless others.

“Stonewall is tremendously important to the city and our community,” says Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick. “We’re thrilled that some wonderful volunteers with experience putting on this event once again stepped forward to partner with the city. It promises to be a terrific event for everyone to celebrate.”

Key West

You can’t go wrong at a place where the motto is “One Human Family.” Key West will be celebrating it’s 35th Pride event from June 10-14, and it will be much bigger and brighter than the humble march up Duval Street that took place in 1980. Committed to sending a message about how a community could live together, the participation of the LGBT community along with friends, family members, Key West residents and visitors is what has always made this event particularly special.

The tropical island is a perfect celebratory spot, as it has a longstanding tradition of inclusion and tolerance and also offers a host of great activities in addition to the festival itself, including sunset snorkel tours and a fun shop crawl.

Whether you’re looking for sun, snorkeling and a laid-back vibe or an outrageously fun vacation, Key West Pride is sure to fit the bill. Oh yeah, and don’t forget about the foam party. For more information, visit keywestpride.org.•

Gay days

Though not exactly South Florida, many locals drive to Orlando for “Gay Days.” From June 2-8, you’ll be surrounded by 150,000 other members of the LGBT community and be a stone’s throw away from Disney World. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

On June 6th, an estimated 50,000 people will don red t-shirts and enter the Magic Kingdom for a very prideful day — but also for the roller coasters. Go with a group of friends and make some new ones, too. It’s the ideal environment for people from all walks of life to co-mingle. It’s hard to have a bad day in Disney World. For more information, visit gaydays.com.

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