MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Since 2009, Gay Pride has celebrated the LGBT community in Miami Beach.
One of the key moments is the parade. Each year a tireless LGBT advocate is chosen to be the Parade Grand Marshall and this year it’s a familiar face to many.
Detective Juan Sanchez is this year’s choice.
“It was really a sense of joy and proud and humbling. It’s an honor to be even considered and asked,” he said.
Now retired from the Miami Beach Police Department, you may recognize him from television. He was the department’s spokesman for a number of years. Sanchez said he’s thrilled to be this year’s Grand Marshall.
“For the last 10 years, I always did some type of security aspect for all these events. I was always in uniform,” he recalled. “The only event I ever partook as a civilian was the VIP reception and because I had a 4 a.m. wake up call the next morning I had to leave early. So this is the first year I’m looking forward to enjoying and being part of the event and having fun with the rest of my friends.”
Organizers said Sanchez was chosen because of all he does for the LGBT community.
“Juan is an incredible role model for our youth,” said Scott Bader with Miami Beach Pride. “He’s worked consistently with Pridelines to make sure that homeless youth are connected with resources they need and he’s generally just a wonderful man.”
Sanchez said part of the pride celebration is remembering and thanking those who fought years earlier for inclusion and equal rights.
“Those people carved out steps, they carved out small steps for us to get to be able to walk down the street with your lover, your husband and be who you are. So I think it’s important we remember those people,” he said.
Sanchez said he does not see himself as a role model but hopes that his 15-year relationship with his partner Michael will help youth to see they can have a bright future too.
“I never set out with my partner to be a role model with anyone else, it’s always just the two of us wanting to be us,” he said with a big smile. “But if our relationship, our love for each other and our celebration for each other gives someone hope that they want that, then I’m happy to be that.”
Gay Pride Weeks kicks off on April 1st. There will be activities and events all week. The festivities on Ocean Drive swing into high gear on April 6 and 7, including the parade on Sunday, April 7th.
Click Here for a look at all the events.