After months of preparation and angst over new, anti-LGBT laws, Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival is upon us. While promising to be a party, it will also get back to the event’s historic protest roots.
Much of the concern over this year’s event is a new law classifying most, if not all, drag entertainment as “adult.” At first, many believed this would mean absolutely no one in drag allowed into the event, in the parade, or on any stages. Now the rules are a little clearer. Stonewall CEO Jeff Stirling said that while this year may feel slightly different and toned down, drag will be allowed.
He believes the bars and stage performers will adhere to slightly restrictive rules regarding bawdy humor and performance. Stirling says bars are being stricter than the event’s rules.
“We released the written codes of conduct in writing. We haven’t gotten any blowback.”
The attitude reflects comments from Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton and police chief Gary Blocker.
“I look at this legislation and past events, and I don’t see anything being in conflict with this new legislation,” Blocker said.
Newton has insisted for months that everyone, drag included, will be welcome at the party. Violations could lead to bars losing liquor licenses and elected officials and city employees being replaced by the governor.
Despite that, city commissioner Chris Caputo says he will attend the festival in drag.
Ahead of Schedule
If you’ve driven on or near Wilton Drive this week, you’ve likely seen signs of the weekend’s events. Bundles of street barricades started showing up, and pre-planning is paying off.
Stirling says 60% of the festival will be set up on Friday, allowing staff and volunteers to focus on “the little extras” on Saturday.
About 100 entries are expected to march or ride in the parade. A couple of logistical changes are designed to make the evening more accessible. About 45 minutes into the parade, the procession will pause and allow people to go from one side of the street to the other. (In past years, people have tried to dart back and forth between entrants.)
Grand Marshals are Ederick Johnson, a community service provider and HIV/AIDS advocate, and Julia Lemigova, the first LGBT cast member of Real Housewives of Miami.
Also, you will be able to go from NE 20th St. to Five Points on the same side, without crossing Wilton Drive.
A final security sweep and explosives check will start about noon, with gates opening at 3 p.m. The parade steps off at 7 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the gate at stonewallpride.lgbt. Presale ends Friday.
Wilton Drive will be closed all day, and parking nearby is extremely limited. People are encouraged to use ride-share.
Seven stages and 16 bars will line The Drive. The main stage, also known as the Black Excellence stage, will be across from Alibi Plaza at NE 6th Ave. and Wilton Drive.
Outdoor activities will wind down around 11 p.m., but bars will be open until 3 a.m., like all weekend nights.