Some of the honorees at the event
Photos & Story By Rachel Galvin
As a great way to launch PRIDE Month, there was a special event on May 31 at the Galleria Mall in Fort Lauderdale honoring community leaders from the gay community, which included speeches, drag performances and the launch of a photography exhibit featuring historic moments in the community. There also was a large PRIDE tribute wall with photos taken by Michael Murphy. Also shown was an award-winning short film featuring LGBTQ voices in an oral history format, produced by the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood and directed by Freddy Rodriguez. Before the performances and speeches began, people could grab a glass of wine and a light bite, and mix and mingle while viewing the exhibit.
Honorees included City of Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, Visit Lauderdale’s Senior Vice President of Inclusion & Accessibility Richard Gray, South Florida Symphony Orchestra’s Music Director/Founder Sebrina María Alfonso, WSVN Channel 7 Anchor Craig Stevens, South Florida SunSentinel journalist Rod Stafford Hagwood, renowned entertainer Tiffany Arieagus, Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus founder Gary Keating and founder of The Copa and entrepreneur John Castelli. Other volunteers were also honored.
Broward County Mayor Lamar Fisher presented a proclamation recognizing History Fort Lauderdale’s PRIDE Month efforts.
The event was emceed by FayWhat?!, host of “The FayWhat?! Show” on the Happening Out Television Network, and media personality Shawn “Kitty Meow” Palacious, and featured live performances by entertainers Nicole T. Phillips and Erika Norell. DJ Aulden Brown kept the music pumping.
Each honoree had the chance to say a few words. Trantalis gave an impassioned speech that summed up the sentiment of the moment, saying, “We will not be afraid to stand up for who we are, and we will not be considered second rate people. We have come too far. We have done too much. We have walked too many miles. We have spoken up too often. And we will not let anyone denigrate who we are, no matter what form we take. Whether you’re a lawyer, or a drag queen or anyone in between, we are people. And we will always be able to stand up for who we are.”
Stonewall PRIDE commemorates not only the gay community today but also remembers the history of pioneers in the past, many of whom were shown on the PRIDE tribute wall displayed with the photos by Michael Murphy. In addition, it remembers the Stonewall Riots in 1969 when New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club located in Greenwich Village in New York City. The raid led to a riot among bar patrons and neighborhood residents and that served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement in the United States and around the world.
The art exhibit showcasing photos and video from the local community’s history is free to see and is located near Swarovski within the Galleria Mall (2414 E. Sunrise Blvd.) until June 30.
The event was presented by History Fort Lauderdale and sponsored by Galleria Fort Lauderdale, Visit Lauderdale, Castelli Real Estate Services, BBX Capital, Memorial Healthcare System, OutClique, HotSpots Media Group/Happening Out Television Network and GPR | Goodman Public Relations. Opening reception contributors included The Capital Grille, Seasons 52, Lips Fort Lauderdale, Tulio’s Tacos & Tequila Bar, and Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants.
Look for more PRIDE events happening throughout the month.