There will be a few firsts this year for Pride Fort Lauderdale.
• The festival celebrating the LGBTQ+ communities in South Florida will be the first organization to have a beach-side parade on State Road A1A.
• And one of the new events on the Feb. 21-24 schedule will be a drag brunch produced in partnership with the South Beach Wine and Food Festival (SoBeWFF), hosted by syndicated radio personality Elvis Duran and his fiance, Alex Carr.
• There will also be a runway fashion show featuring looks from Lifetime TV’s “Project Runway” designers and emceed by Carson Kressley and Naomi Smalls, both currently appearing on VH1’s “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
“I mean, what can be better than a big drag show?” asks Lee Schrager, the founder of SoBeWFF, which takes place Feb. 20-24. “We have 15 restaurants serving brunch and I think 12 to 15 drag queens will be paired with the restaurants and performing during the brunch. As Gianni Versace said, ‘The only thing better than good drag is bad drag.’ But this drag brunch will be the best of them all.”
As for the parade, Pride South Florida’s president Miik Martorell says he was surprised to learn this will be the first parade sanctioned by the city to take place on Fort Lauderdale beach.
“There’s never been a parade of any kind that we can find in the history of Fort Lauderdale beach,” he says. “And it’s going to be a gay parade. How do you like that? It’s beautiful, I think, that it coincides with the 50 year anniversary of Stonewall [the June 28, 1969, riots in New York City that sparked the modern gay rights movement]. It’s history making. And one of our grand marshals is our history-making mayor, Dean Trantalis, the first out gay mayor. And Major Griffin-Gracy will also serve as one of grand marshals. If you don’t know her story, she was at Stonewall. She was beaten. Her jaw was broken while she was in jail. She was in Attica [Correctional Facility]. She is a transgender woman of color and there’s a documentary about her [“Major!”]. It is such an honor and blessing to have her with us 50 years after Stonewall.”
Kressley — who rose to reality TV fame on the original men-makeover show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and now appears on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Get A Room with Carson and Thom” — says he is most excited to see the catwalk looks from another reality TV show.
“I know there are going to be some designs from some of the alums from ‘Project Runway,’” Kressley says. “And that is one of my favorite shows. I think it’s one of the most creative art forms out there, you know, runway fashion. It’s going to be a really spectacular night.”
He says these pride celebrations are important because “everybody has their own coming-out story. A reason people don’t do that is fear of rejection from family and friends. And anytime gay people are seen as happy, successful, anytime that is visible … that gives you the reassurance that it’s OK, you’re going to be fine. You have a community that loves and supports you. I think that’s one of the … great strides we’ve made.”
For more information go to PrideFortLauderdale.org.
Breaking down the events
Thursday, Feb. 21 — Runway Fashion Show at 7 p.m. at the Hard Rock Event Center, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Though both appear on “RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars,” Kressley says he and co-host Naomi Smalls have never worked together before this event. “On the show we don’t get to really interact. We keep it very objective. But I think she is so talented and will be so great on the runway. That is really her strong suit.”
Friday, Feb. 22 — Pride on the Drive starting at 6 p.m. on Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors. Participating restaurants, bars and nightclubs will offer food and drink deals and bring in special live entertainment. “[We] thought it might be a good idea to … bring people back to the epicenter of our gay world,” Martorell says.
Saturday, Feb. 23 — Drag Brunch starts at 11:30 a.m. at the Ritz-Carlton Fort Lauderdale, 1 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. “We did a drag brunch for the New York [City] Wine and Food Festival with Countess Luann [de Lesseps] from the ‘Real Housewives’ and it was a big success,” recalls Schrager. “And we have the best of the drag queens — all headline names. It’s just a salute to all the amazing talent in Fort Lauderdale.” The chefs include Burlock Coast’s Paula DaSilva (“Hell’s Kitchen”) and Palate Party’s Robyn Almodovar (“Chopped,” “Cutthroat Kitchen” and two seasons of “Hell’s Kitchen”). The slate of female impersonators include SoFlo stars such as Daisy Deadpetals, Adora, Tp Lords, Tiffany Fantasia and Electra.
Saturday, Feb. 23 — B3: Bear Beach Bash starts at 12 noon at Sebastian Beach, Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. For the uninitiated, bears in the gay world are large and hirsute men. This beach party will be hosted by self-described “gay muscle bear” and local stand-up comedian Peter Bisuito and will have go-go dancers and DJ Herbie James from the Ramrod bar entertaining.
Saturday, Feb. 23 — Carnaval Parade starts at 5:30 p.m. on State Road A1A (Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard). The main stage and viewing area is at Las Olas Boulevard and A1A. “We have five high school marching bands,” Martorell says. “50 years ago you wouldn’t get a high school anywhere near a gay event and here we have like almost a thousand kids coming to be a part of the parade. It’s unheard of. This is amazing, it really is.”
Saturday, Feb. 23 — Pride Block Party is from 7-10 p.m. at Fifth Street and Seabreeze Boulevard (in front of the Swimming Hall of Fame). “We wanted to be respectful of the people who live there, to stagger the number of people coming in so you don’t have a rush of people coming in,” explains Martorell. “So that’s why we staggered the times that things happen. So the block party was a way to do two things — cap of the events of the day and also meter the traffic going back. We have more entertainers performing. And hopefully the neighbors will see that we are doing everything we could to be respectful.”
Sunday, Feb. 24 — Pride Festival is from noon to 8 p.m. at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, 1100 Seabreeze Blvd. (SRA1A). “What is really cool about this … is we have something I am so happy about,” says Martorell. “We have Todrick Hall, who is one of the most talented guys you’ll ever imagine. Google him and you can’t help but fall in love with him. And we have Ada Vox, who was amazing on ‘American Idol,’ the first drag queen on ‘American Idol.’ And we have DJs Sushiman and Kidd Madonny … and they’re not going to just play circuit music, but a little bit of everything for everybody.”
Admission prices and how to get tickets
— Events such as the Pride Parade on Fort Lauderdale beach and the Pride on the Drive event in Wilton Manors are free and open to the public.
— Free though there is a request for a $5 donation at the gate for B3: Bear Beach Bash, the Pride Block Party and the Pride Festival.
— Tickets for the Pride Runway Fashion Show are $25, $45 and $65, purchased through Ticketmaster.
— Tickets for the Drag Brunch are $125, purchased at SoBeWFF.org/drag.
“Jess T. Dugan and Vanessa Fabbre: To Survive on This Shore” photo exhibit of transgender and gender nonconforming older adults will have a free lecture and opening reception Feb. 9 starting at 3 p.m. at Miami’s Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum. The exhibit is up through April. To reserve a spot and for more information, go to Frost.FIU.edu.
The Hotel Gaythering will celebrate its fifth anniversary on Feb. 15 with what they are calling a “MET Gayla Costume Party” starting at 9 p.m. The theme for the red carpet event is “Savage Love.” The event is free and open to the public. Portraits packages will be available for $50 for two and $75 for four. For more information on the hotel, go to Gaythering.com.
The Gay8 festival in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood on Calle Ocho (between 14th and 17th avenues) is Feb. 17 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The festival is free although there are VIP passes for $100. For more information, go to Gay8Festival.com.
The “Prism” is a exhibit of art with LGBTQ+ themes at the Frank C. Ortis Art Gallery and Exhibit Hall (a.k.a the Frank) in Pembroke Pines. There will be a free reception Feb. 22 at 6 p.m. The exhibit is up through May. For more information, call 954-392-2120 or go to TheFrankGallery.org/events.
Actor and activist Kathy Najimy (“Sister Act,” “Hocus Pocus”) will be the guest speaker at the Stonewall National Museum and Archives Gala on Feb. 22 starting at 7 p.m. at the Ritz Carlton Fort Lauderdale. Tickets are $300. To order, go to Stonewall-Museum.org.
“OUTshine’s Big Night Out” Oscar watch party, Feb. 24 starting at 7 p.m. at the Manor in Wilton Manors. Tickets are $150 and includes passed appetizers, open bar and a sit-down dinner. To order, go to OutShineFilm.com. OUTshine is the organization behind an annual LGBT film festival in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.
“Queer Miami: A History of LGBTQ Communities” opens March 16 at HistoryMiami Museum, with a reception March 15 at 6 p.m. Tickets are $10. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students with ID, $5 for children 6-12 years-old. and free for museum members and children under the age of 6. The exhibit is up through Sept. 1. For more information, call 305-375-1492 or go to HistoryMiami.org.
The Mr. and Miss Pride South Florida 2019 pageant will be March 18 at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center. The event is produced by Latrice Royale of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” fame. The pageant starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $20-$30 (use ticket code PRIDE to save $5). To order, call 877-311-7469 or go to AventuraCenter.org.