By Cliff Dunn
(SEE GUIDE BELOW ARTICLE)
This Sunday, a tradition begun more than four decades ago—one that sparked and continues to energize the modern LGBT Rights movement—returns to South Florida and Greater Fort Lauderdale’s Gay Village, Wilton Manors. The Stonewall Summer Pride 2012 Street Festival kicks off at noon—sharp!—on Sunday, June 24. (For a complete schedule of acts, events, and other important information, visit stonewallsummerpride.com.)
The Gayborhood’s main “drag,” Wilton Drive, will be in all is festive—and savage!—splendor, with live entertainment, world-class DJ/Producers, delicious food and drink, over 125 exhibition booths, and an exclusive Children’s Pride Park. Later, the Stonewall Summer Pride Twilight Parade commandeers the Drive, with fabulous floats, decorative displays, and epic, eye-catching costumes. Immediately after the Twilight Parade, internationally-renowned performers take the stage for the Stonewall Summer Pride Concert, featuring headliner Andy Bell, the lead singer of Billboard Hot 100 act Erasure—called by Insound.com “the definitive synthpop superstars”—whose Top 20 hits include “A Little Respect,” and “Chains of Love.”
The event commemorates the Stonewall riots that took place in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood. The demonstrations are frequently cited as the first instance in American history when people in the LGBT community fought back against what they perceived as a government-sponsored system that persecuted sexual minorities, and they have become the defining event that marked the start of the gay rights movement, both in the U.S., and around the world. Today, Gay Pride events are held annually throughout the world toward the end of June to mark the original Stonewall riots.
Six-time Emmy® award-winning comedian Bruce Vilanch serves as Grand Marshal of the Stonewall Summer Pride Twilight Parade, which begins its spectacular cavalcade promptly at 7 p.m., with a parade route running along Wilton Drive, beginning on Northeast 20 Street, and running north to finish at Five Points. Vilanch’s appearance coincides with his starring performance in “Standing on Ceremony,” a collection of eight short plays dealing with the subject of marriage quality. (Performances run from June 21 to 24, at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Equality Florida.
Stonewall Summer Pride 2012 is presented by the Rainbow Business Coalition (RBC), and the City of Wilton Manors. Reece Darham, co-chair of the RBC and managing director of Island City Health and Fitness, says that attendees to the event will be entertained by dozens of guest performers, including DJs Maximus 3000 and D-Stu and Maximus 3000. Champagne Bordeaux will showcase a tribute to Donna Summer, and Tiffany will offer a tribute to Whitney Houston. Other performances will feature Alyson Thomas, Asheeria Iconic Pryce, Ashiria, Estehania St. Lords, Krystal K, Mica Parish, Nicole Philips, and Vashai Avionce as well as the wonderful Jennifer Holiday (from the original Broadway cast of “Dreamgirls,” among numerous other international performances).
Immediately after the Twilight Parade, guests will be treated to exciting performances by Johnny McGovern— The Gay Pimp—and Mary Griffin, Patti Labelle’s Secret Weapon, followed by headlining performer Bell. Local favorite Misty Eyes serves as emcee for the concert.