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Coming Out of the Darkness, Into the Light! Pride 2021 in Wilton Manors Is Back!

Coming Out of the Dark and into the Light

After being in lock down for more than a year, excitement for the Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival in Wilton Manors on Saturday, June 19 is palpable. Organizers of the event chose the theme “Out of the Darkness, Into the Light”.  They chose this theme to celebrate our return to normalcy and our re-entry into the light after a dark and long year under quarantine. But for the LGBTQ+ community coming out into the light also holds a much deeper significance and this is why Pride celebrations are so important.

Why Show Pride Is So Important

Pride celebrations have become a cornerstone of the fight for equal rights and equality for the LGBTQ+ communities.  While many of us take for granted being able to hold hands or show  affection to our significant other out in public, the LGBTQ+ community has had to fight for their unalienable right to do so. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has not always been a given, and for that reason they proudly march and show their Pride. 

In order to dig deeper into the meaning of Pride I asked some friends and posted the question on Facebook: “What does Pride mean to you?”. Below are some of the answers we received. 

No More Fear

AJ is a math professor and instructional designer at a local university. He is Puerto Rican and grew up in a military family where he had to hide his sexual orientation until he no longer lived at home. When asked what life was like before he came out he shared that it was hard because he could not be who he was and lived in fear. AJ came out after he moved to the continental United States. He describes that feeling as liberating. When AJ was asked what Pride means to him he said:

"Pride means to me not being afraid of who, not being afraid of what others think about me, not having to wear a mask, not having to live in fear of the choices I make in life and just be happy and accept myself for who I am". 

AJ, Davie Resident

No More Loneliness

Harrison C. Davies, grew up in Miami Shores, and he shared his story with LivingInOaklandPark.com about how Pride changed his life. He was 19 and still trying to figure himself out. His parents had loaned a car to participate in a parade. He ended up going to the parade and shared with us how it changed his life.

"When I got there I was immediately welcomed by so many people and made a few connections for individuals who would become good friends later on...basically at 19 I stumbled upon the festival and realized I was not alone".

Harrison C. Davies, Wilton Manors Resident

Terry Richmeier, the author of Worshipping Brad, echoed this sentiment: 

"Pride festivities allow us to show the world who we are and share the feelings of acceptance and that we are not alone".

Terry Richmeier, Author

Don Vozzola, who came out late in life, shares how it was life-changing:

"I came out 8 years ago very late. My first pride event after that filled me with emotion and pride and acceptance after years of trying to accept myself".

Don Vozzola

Pride Saves Lives

Dave Florida, who responded to  the question on Facebook shared how Pride can actually help save lives by letting LGBTQ+ youth know they are not alone. 

"Don’t want to be somber about pride, but I always think that if just one LGBTQ young person stops feeling suicidal because they attend or see a pride event on TV. Then it’s totally worth all the hard work that goes into these events all over the world 🙂"

Dave Florida

A Teachable Moment

"Celebrating who I am. Celebrating the memories of all who came before and fight for who I can be. Pride is a teachable moment. Remembering there are many places around the world that have no freedom to even express who the are. You need to write telling our young that their openness isn't forgetfulness... The fight continues..."

Austin Summers
We received many, many more insightful answers and are sorry we could not include them all. We want to thank those that answered and wish you an amazing day at the parade showing your pride!

Out of the Darkness and Into the Light: A Community Event

Jeff Sterling, CEO of WMEG Community Marketing and Events which organizes the annual celebration shared that the parade “…is a great way for businesses to get involved, have fun and thank the LGBTQ+ community for their loyalty and support”.  According to Sterling more they already have more than two dozen organizations registered for the event.
“This event has truly been part of the fabric of our community- last year was the first year in 20 years that we didn’t host the Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival,” said Mayor Scott Newton. “This year, additional safety protocols will be in place and we are looking forward to welcoming anyone who would like to join us for this outdoor event that will celebrate pride and inclusion.”
The celebration begins at 3pm with a street festival along The Drive. There will be 6 stages spread out along The Drive and 16 bars will have entertainment throughout the day. The parade begins a twilight. Parade attendees are encouraged to bring glow sticks, battery-operated candles, neon fabric and things that will shine proudly in the dark.
There is a $5 admission, payable in cash or credit card, for adults and children aged 12 and over. If you are unable to attend, Happening Out Television Network will be streaming live from the event.

For more information:

To learn more about the Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival in Wilton Manors, Florida visit https://www.stonewallpride.lgbt/.

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*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

Desiree Avila

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Désirée Ávila has called Oakland Park her home for over 33 years. In addition to publishing LivingInOaklandPark.com, Désirée has been featured in print publications, locally and abroad. Désirée was an award winning teacher for 10 years and has a doctoral level education in Educational Technology. She is currently a licensed Florida Realtor® and is committed to a high-level of professionalism.

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