For the first time in its nine-year history, Miami Beach Gay Pride will honor four individuals who have made significant contributions to the LGBTQ community as Pride Parade Marshals. Television personality and pop culture expert Ross Mathews will serve as Grand Marshal; celebrity bartender and cast member of iHeart Radio’s “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show,” “Uncle” Johnny Pool, will serve as the Advocate Marshal; and philanthropists and advocates Liebe and Seth Gadinsky will serve as Ally Marshals. Miami Beach Gay Pride is presented by Celebrity Cruises and runs April 7 to 9, 2017.
“We are really proud to expand our Marshal program this year,” said Mark Fernandes, chair of the Pride board. “As an organization and an event, it is critical that we embody the diversity and inclusiveness of the entire community we serve. We can think of no better way to live up to that promise than by celebrating the accomplishments and efforts of these four outstanding leaders.”
Grand Marshal – Television Personality Ross Mathews
Openly gay comedian, TV host and author Ross Mathews will serve as Miami Beach Gay Pride’s Grand Marshal leading the loud and colorful parade that’s expected to draw over 130,000 spectators this year. Mathews is a strong supporter of the Human Rights Campaign, speaking at many of their nationwide events and receiving their Visibility Award in 2011. He has hosted the GLAAD Media Awards, officiated a same-sex marriage from a float in the middle of Capital Pride in Washington D.C., and recently produced a widely hailed video response to a personally degrading comment made by Milo Yiannopoulos during his resignation press conference as senior editor at Breitbart.
Of his video response, The Advocate later reported: “Knowing he can be an example for kids across the world who don’t have positive role models is what drives him most, (Mathews) went on to say, ‘I’m afraid that the kids like me out there now will see his message and not my message. So I want every kid out there who is different, who feels different, who knows that they’re different to know that that’s good.’”
Mathews entered the public psyche as “Ross the Intern,” a correspondent on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.” Currently, Mathews can be seen hosting the nationally syndicated daily entertainment talk show “Hollywood Today Live,” which was just renewed for its second season. He’s part of the E! Network’s red carpet commentary team and has guest judged on “Ru Paul’s Drag Race.”
In addition to his work on television, Mathews can be heard weekly on his top rated podcast “Straight Talk with Ross Mathews” [PodcastOne] where he gives his hilarious take on the latest entertainment news and gossip.
In 2013, Mathews released his first book, “Man Up: Tales of My Delusional Self-Confidence” [Grand Central Publishing], which quickly became a national bestseller. “Man Up” takes readers inside Mathews’ personal journey from coming out to his family, to becoming a super fan, while revealing the most embarrassing and hysterical moments of his small town life and big city adventures. It chronicles his journey of how he managed to turn an obsession with pop culture into one-on-one interactions with A-List celebrities.
Advocate Marshal – Elvis Duran and the Morning Show’s Uncle Johnny
“Uncle” Johnny Pool is a legendary bartender who bartended at the world-famous Stonewall Inn in the 1960s. He was an active participant in the Stonewall Riots, widely credited as the beginning of the equal rights movement, and has since fought for the equality of all human beings regardless of sexuality or skin tone. The Advocate Marshal, new for 2017, honors an individual who has fought tirelessly for LGBTQ equal rights.
Pool got his start bartending in Cherry Grove on Fire Island where he has worked for over 53 years. His career began at The Beach Hotel & Club in Cherry Grove in 1964, which would later become The Ice Palace. He currently works at Cherry’s on the Bay and is celebrating his 17th year this summer. With over 53 consecutive years bartending at the legendary LGBTQ summer destination, Pool has seen it all. Now he can be heard as the oldest living intern on “Elvis Duran and the Morning Show,” the #1 top 40 radio show in the country, where he bartends on a weekly basis. Johnny is best known on the show for his infectious greeting, “Hello Lady”, as well as his sometimes irreverent knock-knock jokes.
To celebrate “Uncle Johnny” and his decades of fighting for equal rights, Miami Beach Gay Pride will turn one the bars in Lummus Park into Cherry’s on the Bay and Pool will make special appearances at the bar to mix his favorite cocktail recipes. Bartenders throughout the Pride Festival will also wear “Hello Lady” buttons.
Also new for 2017, the Allied Marshal pays tribute to LGBTQ-allied individuals who have championed social justice and human rights. Liebe and Seth Gadinsky have devoted over two decades to advancing social justice. Seth serves on, and formerly chaired, the board of the Anti-Defamation League in Florida. Liebe is dedicated to building community through her volunteer efforts, having distinguished herself as a strong supporter and advocate for human rights. Through her volunteer work for SAVE (Safeguarding American Values for Everyone), she worked tirelessly to help pass and defend the Miami-Dade Human Rights Ordinance. She served on the Board of The Miami Foundation and its GLBT Community Projects Fund Advisory Board. Liebe currently serves on the board of the National LGBTQ Task Force and formerly served as the first straight ally to chair the board. Additionally, she has spent the last 10 years helping ensure the success of the Task Force Gala – Miami. Together, Seth and Liebe are passionate supporters of myriad LGBT organizations in Miami-Dade and beyond.
Ally Marshals – Activists Liebe and Seth Gadinsky
Since its inception in 2009, Miami Beach Gay Pride has grown from a neighborhood event to an event on the global stage with A-list celebrities such as Elvis Duran as Grand Marshal in 2016 and Jordin Sparks as headline entertainer. Mario Lopez was Grand Marshal in 2015, Gloria Estefan was Grand Marshal in 2014 and Adam Lambert performed in 2013. Attendance has grown as well. An estimated 15,000 spectators turned out for the first Pride parade in 2009; an estimated 130,000 attended the event in 2016, which attracted not only South Floridians, but also visitors from throughout the world. In addition to Parade spectators, last April’s event included more than 65 parade contingencies, 35 floats and 2,700 participants. The Pride Festival which followed featured more than 100 LGBTQ-friendly vendors and businesses, plus refreshments, two stages of entertainment, a family-friendly play area and fireworks. Recently, Miami Beach Gay Pride was named one of the “Top 100 Events of the Year” for the third year in a row by BizBash Magazine and earned the Pink Flamingo Award as favorite multi-day event for the fourth year in a row.
For 2017, Miami Beach Gay Pride will be a full, three-day weekend, April 7 – 9, and will include a Friday night VIP Reception, Saturday beach party and festival, and Sunday parade and festival.
Miami Beach Gay Pride is produced with the support of the Miami Beach Visitors and Convention Authority. In addition to Celebrity Cruises as the presenting sponsor, other sponsors include: 1015 Multimedia; AHF; Ambiente / Unity Coalition; Artfood Staffing & Hospitality; Atlantic Broadband; Bank of America; Barefoot Wine & Bubbly; Bayou Rum; BB&T; Brown-Forman; Blick Art Materials; Chase; City of Miami Beach; Coca-Cola; Crunch; Craig Zinn Automotive Group; CVSHealth; Delmay and Partners; Fertility & IVF Center of Miami; G.H. Cretors, Cornfields; Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau; Gulfstream Park; Hiro Sake; Herradura; HotSpots / Mark’s List / Genre Latino; iHeart Radio: 103.5 The Beat, 93.9 MIA, Enrique Santos, Tu 94.9, Y100; Jack Daniels; Jackson Health System; Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce; Miami Gay Blog; Monster Energy; NBC6 / Telemundo; Palette Magazine; Pollo Tropical; Pride.com; Source Events; Salvation; Score; South Beach Hotel Group; Spartacus; Stoli; T Mobile; TD Bank; The Gaythering; The Hub at the LGBT Visitor Center; The Palace; Twist; URGE; Walgreens; W South Beach Hotel; Washington Park Hotel; Wet; and Wire Magazine.
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.