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Spotlight on South Florida's LGBTQ+ Hub: The Pride Center at Equality Park

Posted at 9:50 AM, Jun 26, 2024

Disclaimer: This Inside South Florida segment is sponsored by Demesmin and Dover Law Firm. All opinions and views are of the advertiser and does not reflect the same of WSFL-TV.

Celebrating its 31st anniversary next week, the Pride Center at Equality Park continues to provide a safe and welcoming space for South Florida's LGBTQ+ community to embrace their true selves. CEO Robert Boo joined Inside South Florida to discuss the center's extensive services, the significance of its historic campus, and the upcoming events that highlight the center's enduring impact on the community.

The Pride Center at Equality Park is the heart of South Florida’s LGBTQ+ community, celebrating its 31st anniversary next week. The center spans a five-and-a-half-acre campus and has been a cornerstone for the community, providing a safe and welcoming space for all to be their true authentic selves. Robert Boo, who has been associated with the center for 18 years, explains that the center is home to nine other organizations that offer free services to the community.

Initially established in 1993 during the AIDS epidemic, the Pride Center began by providing essential services such as education and testing. Over the years, it has evolved into a comprehensive wellness program that addresses the holistic health of the community. The center now offers a range of services including Reiki, yoga, yogic movement, and sound baths, all free of charge.

One of the standout programs is the weekly gathering for LGBT seniors, the nation’s largest, attracting 150 to 180 attendees. The center also has a Women with Pride program, an LGBT health directory to connect individuals with culturally competent physicians, and extensive transgender services.

The Pride Center has made history by building Florida’s first affordable and supportive housing community specifically targeting LGBT seniors. This initiative underscores the center's commitment to providing a safe and supportive environment for the elderly members of the community.

The Pride Center is known for its vibrant events, including the annual Wicked Manors Halloween bash, which has become the largest street party on October 31 in the Southeast United States. Last year, it drew 30,000 to 35,000 attendees. This year's theme, revealed during the Stonewall Street Festival, is "Island of Misfit Toys," promising a creative and inclusive celebration.

Reflecting on his 18 years at the Pride Center, Robert Boo is most proud of the acquisition and development of their expansive campus. Despite purchasing the property just before the financial collapse of 2008, the center has thrived and continued to grow, providing a vital hub of care and support for the LGBTQ+ community.

For more information on the Pride Center and its services, visit their website at pridecenterflorida.org.