In recognition of Pride Month, cities across the country and around the world are holding events throughout the month to recognize and celebrate the LGBT community. In South Florida, a foundation is celebrating it’s 10th year anniversary of fighting the stigma of pride and making South Florida the most livable place in the country for the LGBT community.
Don Hayden says pride month is a time for everyone in the LGBT community to come together and be proud of who they are.
Hayden was born in Chicago but has lived in South Florida for 25 years, being active in the LGBT community and fighting for equality.
"At that time, gays weren’t allowed from adopting children. We now have marriage equality and eliminate the terrible ban on adopting children for gays," he said.
But Hayden says there’s still a lot to be done.
"It’s disturbing that on June 1st, the first day of Pride Month, our governor signed into law banning young trans youth from participating in high school sports. So there’s a lot to do. There aren’t rights and protections on a state-wide basis for people in their employment, in housing and in public accommodations," he said.
According to Equality Florida, it is legal to fire someone, evict them from housing or deny them service at a restaurant just because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. That’s why foundations like Our Fund, are so important.
The organization supports a livable community for all South Floridians by promoting and increasing responsible philanthropy directed at agencies advancing LGBT issues in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
"We have to represent, be out there and let people know that we exist and that we matter and that our voices matter," said Victor Gimenez, executive director of OUTshine Film Festival.
OUTshine is a film festival that showcases LGBT films. The festival is committed to inspire, entertain and educate the public as well as create a safe space for everyone to gather.
"It allows for representation to be there for us. Someone will see their story on the big screen and identify with it and know they’re not alone," said Gimenez.
Gimenez and Hayden hope their efforts will eventually help remove the stigma of pride.
"When I was a young closeted person, when I went to my first pride parade it was special. Being able to express yourself, and that’s what the pride festivals and parades are all about," said Hayden.