MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) – The rainbow flag hanging proudly at Miami Beach City Hall and the rainbow colors shining brightly at the Lincoln Road Mall parking lot are sure signs that it’s time to kick off Miami Beach Pride, a weeklong celebration of special events, a gala, a 2-day festival and of course, the parade.
“The parade is my favorite part,” said Mayor Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, present to show his support despite suffering the loss of his father last Thursday.
The former Miami Beach Mayor Seymour Gelber was 99-years-old and one of his proudest accomplishments until the day he died was fighting for human rights, according to his son.
“He was the first I think major-elected official to win a major post with the support and embracement of the LGBTQ community,” said Mayor Gelber at the flag-raising ceremony.
Miami Beach’s first and openly gay elected commissioner, Michael Gongora was also present.
Since Gongora was elected in 2006 he said, he has seen the inaugural pride week in 2009 grow every year.
Josean Garcia, a survivor from the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting, was honored with a key to the city.
He was asked to flip the switch, literally, to turn on the parking lot lights at the Pride Lights the Night event. For him, he said it respects his journey to healing since the tragedy.
“Well [life] was kind of dark but I flipped that,” said Garcia, who found healing through writing his music. “Stop the hate, no matter what. Love, it’s like water. Water and air will make its way wherever. Love will always make its way.
While this week is a celebration of love, it’s also about pushing forward.
“I how to be a part of that for wed moment and that this celebration is a reminder we’re not exactly where we need to be,” said Gongora, adding he hopes Miami Beach will encourage the rest of Florida to be more accepting and fight for equal rights
For a full calendar of Miami Beach Pride events, click here.