Red, Out and Equal 2014

By : Patrick O'Connor
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Orlando – Family Outfest was held for the first time in Orlando, celebrating the modern family and creating a family-friendly atmosphere for the local LGBT community to celebrate diversity.

Despite overcast weather and rain, the first ever Family Outfest still brought a good crowd of families to Orlando July 1-7. The weekend included a family night at Fun Spot America Orlando, a Parent’s Night Out at King’s Bowling, Nick After Dark at the Nickelodeon Suites Resort, Fourth of July at Magic Kingdom, and the Red, Out & Equal event at Lake Ivanhoe, which ended the weekend with a festival and fireworks show.

“It’s nice that places are opening up to gay families,” said Tammy Lewis, who attended the Fun Spot event with her family.

“The primary goal was to try to bring all the communities together around one thing—and that’s equality,” said MBA Orlando president Mikael Audebert. “So we saw straight couples, gay couples, a lot of male couples—whom we didn’t know had kids—come out with their kids.”

Fourth of July was celebrated at Magic Kingdom, where families sporting red shirts spent the day at Disney enjoying the rides and the evening’s special Fourth of July firework show. Audebert said that families staying at the host hotel for Family Outfest—Disney’s Yacht & Beach Club Resort, which is inside Walt Disney World Resorts—and surrounding hotels booked a total of 200 rooms with most booking a three-night stay. That’s about 80 rooms rented.

“We learned a lot and obviously with every event, especially the first time, you have to learn,” Audebert said. “What we learned here is that most people that come to Orlando for an event like this want to stick together and enjoy the parks. So what we may do next year is offer less additional events on the side and focus more on the theme parks.”

Dan Bucantinsky, from ABC’s Scandal, attended the event along with his husband, writer/director Don Roos, and their two children, Eliza and Jonah.

“Dan Bucantinsky, who was here as our special guest this year, loved it so much and found it be such a great event, with a great spirit and a great goal,” Audebert said.

Red, Out & Equal on July 5 brought to Lake Ivanhoe a variety of family activities, vendors and food trucks. The Hammered Lamb provided cash bars for the event and a zipline spanned the sky over the festival.

“We saw a really great diversity in the attendance as well as in the vendors and performers that we don’t always see at Pride,” Audebert said. “The reaction from those that were there and those who witnessed all of this was absolutely amazing. The diversity that we got on Saturday at Red, Out & Equal was definitely the one that we were looking for. ”

Despite rainy weather, organizers did push forward with the scheduled fireworks.

“Fireworks went off but, because it was very wet, a few of the fireworks didn’t go off as expected, but the entire show was there,” he said.

Audebert acknowledged the lingering storm affected the turnout at the Red, Out & Equal event after 4 p.m., which brought out an estimated 2,200 attendees.

Audebert hopes to expand this event next year, and Fourth of July will fall on the corresponding Saturday of next year’s Red, Out & Equal.

“We are going to continue working on expanding water activities, where this year it was very minimal because it was a test. We are going to expand on the fireworks—rain or shine—and we are going to expand on this sense of community and togetherness,” Audebert said. “We really want to continue focusing on this intimate, festival-type of atmosphere that we had with activities such as the zip lining, the volleyball and other types of activities.”

Audebert said his goal is for Family Outfest to be three to four times bigger in 2015.

Photos by Veronica Brezina, who also contributed to this article.

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