Events include a pageant, dance parties, fundraisers, a gala and the closing day parade led by Grand Marshals Gus Kenworthy and Roxanne Vargas
By Jose Cassola
For its momentous 10th year, Miami Beach Gay Pride 2018 will feature a week’s worth of events starting Monday, April 2 with the official Pride rainbow flag-raising ceremony at City Hall and the Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride pageant, which moves to glamorous new digs at the Faena Theater, 3201 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach elected officials will raise the flag at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall. Then at 8 p.m., “Pride Lights the Night – A Tribute to PULSE” kicks off as PULSE Nightclub survivor Laura Vargas “flips the switch” to illuminate the 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage in rainbow colors. Richard Murry, marketing director for Pride, says “Pride Lights the Night” is a week-long display of unity and remembrance paying tribute to the victims of PULSE and their families.
“The colorful display of lights throughout Greater Miami sends a message of support to the entire LGBTQ community as structures and buildings are illuminated in rainbow colors,” Murry said.
Reigning Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride 2017 Joanna James. (Photo by Dale Stine).
That same evening on April 2, a new Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride will be crowned. The Stella Rosa Red Carpet Champagne Reception, hosted by Kitty Meow, begins at 7:30 p.m., followed by the pageant at 9 p.m., hosted by Peter J. Morales, Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride 2013 Tiffany Fantasia and Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride 2015 Athena Dion. Special guest performances during the evening will include Fantasia, Dion, Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride 2014 TP Lords, Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride 2016 Kalah Mendoza and the reigning Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride 2017 Joanna James, who will relinquish her crown to the next winner.
“I had no idea winning Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride 2017 would be this much fun. It has been a fabulous year,” James said. “I know I’m going to be a tough act to follow as Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride, so these ladies better bring it!”
Pageant contestants will compete in such categories as Presentation, Swimwear, Evening Gown with Questions and Answers and Talent. The winner will receive the title of Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride 2018; the Pride crown designed by Joey Rolon from Funky Sexy Couture; a matching jewelry set of ring and earrings designed by Michael Egnor from Beauty & Elegance Designs & Tittle; $1,000 in cash and $1,000 in prizes.
Pride festivities will continue throughout the rest of the week, including dance parties, a Friday night VIP gala and Saturday beach party and festival featuring singer/songwriter Betty Who and Australian international DJ and producer Dan Slater. The Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce will hold a fundraiser for Pride from 6-9 p.m. April 3 at the Shore Club, 1901 Collins Ave. The Spotlight Mega-Mixer will include cocktails and food bites, music and entertainment, a free drawing for prizes and opportunities to make network and business connections. Pre-register at GayBizMiami.com.
The Friday VIP gala will take place from 7:30-10:30 p.m. April 6 at the Faena Forum, 3300 Collins Ave. Comedian Julie Goldman and Brandy Howard of the “People’s Couch” and the podcast, “Dumb Gay Politics,” will be the hosts of the gala with music by DJ Adora. Grand Marshals Gus Kenworthy, Olympic silver medalist, and Roxanne Vargas, NBC6 anchor, will also be in attendance.
Pride’s 10th anniversary culminates Sunday, April 8 with the parade and festival at noon, featuring more than 125 LGBT-friendly vendors and businesses, refreshments, food and a family-friendly play area. The newly crowned Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride will be featured in the parade and be introduced from the Grand Stand Stage and perform at the Main Stage. There will also be musical performances by 80s songstress Taylor Dayne, R&B and Disco Grammy award winner Thelma Houston and international DJ and producer Hector Fonseca.
Kenworthy joins Vargas for Grand Marshal duties, as the two will lead the parade down Ocean Drive. Mark Fernandes, chairman of the Pride board of directors, said Kenworthy and Vargas were chosen as this year’s Grand Marshals because they are “two preeminent public figures who well represent and support the LGBTQ community.”
“Gus for being a role model as an out and proud sportsman who excels at his craft and Roxy for being a prominent ally for the community and equal rights,” Fernandes said.
Kenworthy first represented the United States in the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, bringing home the silver medal in slopestyle. Since then he has earned seven World titles and five X Games medals and is known for being the first Olympic free skier to ever perform a double cork 1080 and right side 1440 in a halfpipe, a double flip on a hip jump and a flip off a rail. In 2015, Kenworthy came out as a gay man in an ESPN Magazine cover story. His on-camera good luck kiss from his boyfriend at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang recently went viral around the world.
As an Emmy award-winning host of NBC6’s “6 in the Mix,” Vargas has been a supporter of Pride and the LGBTQ community for many years, earning the Pink Flamingo Award for Favorite Media Personality three times. She says being named an Ally Grand Marshal this year has meant a lot to her.
“Since day one, my husband and I have been nothing but loved and adored and welcomed with open arms by the LGBTQ community,” Vargas said at the kickoff event and fundraiser for Miami Beach Gay Pride in January. “To have been named an Ally Grand Marshal this year, it’s been such an incredible opportunity to have really smart conversations about the community and about getting more allies to come out and support and to understand what this means to the community and to just show up.”
Gus Kenworthy and Roxanne Vargas
Following the parade, there will be a “Garden of Eve” women’s party at Lummus Park with Jenny Foxx and DJ MISS M spinning their beats and special appearances and entertainment by Goldman and Howard at 5 p.m.
Miami Beach Gay Pride was recently named one of the “Top 100 Events of the Year” for the fourth year in a row by BizBash Magazine and earned the Pink Flamingo Award as favorite multi-day event for the fifth year in a row.
Since its inception in 2009, Miami Beach Gay Pride has grown from a neighborhood event to one on the global stage with participating celebrities such as Patti LaBelle, Gloria Estefan, Adam Lambert, Jordin Sparks, Chaz Bono, Mario Lopez, Sharon Gless, Andy Cohen, Ross Mathews, Bebe Rexha, Elvis Duran and Iggy Azalea. Attendance has grown from 15,000 spectators at the first Pride parade in 2009 to an estimated 135,000 in 2017. In addition, last year’s event included more than 70 parade contingencies, 35 floats and 3,000 participants.
“It takes an army of dedicated volunteers and staff, the support of the City of Miami Beach and the help of all our sponsors to produce a Pride of this magnitude,” Mark Fernandes said. “A special shout-out goes to our presenting sponsor Celebrity Cruises, who really helped us bring Pride to a new level last year.”
Tickets for Miss Miami Beach Gay Pride can be purchased at http://missmbgp2018.brownpapertickets.com. For pageant registration and information, contact Tiffany Fantasia at 305-215-7270, firstname.lastname@example.org or Peter J. Morales at 786-368-8374, email@example.com. For more information about Miami Beach Gay Pride, visit www.miamibeachgaypride.com.