Florida Puerto Rican Parade announces newly formed LGBTQ+ Committee

By : Jeremy Williams
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ABOVE: (L-R) Vivian Rodriguez, Ralph Morales, Luis Martinez, Joel Morales, Jerick Mediavilla and Roxy Santiago after the LGBTQ+ Committee announcement at The Center in Orlando. (Photo by Jeremy Williams)

ORLANDO | The Florida Puerto Rican Parade and Festival has announced the formation of a new committee to help bring more LGBTQ+ representation and inclusion to its annual celebration.

The announcement, made during a press conference at The LGBT+ Center in Orlando Nov. 27, introduced the six-member committee who will be a part of the planning process of next year’s parade, festival and related events.

“The Florida Puerto Rican Parade and Festival is proud to announce the newly created first LGBTQ+ Committee highlighting the strength, tenacity and beauty of our ever-growing family,” said Vivian Rodriguez, the LGBTQ+ Committee Chair and member of the Florida Puerto Rican Parade Board of Directors, during the press conference. “This committee brought together six of the most active, recognized and committed Puerto Rican leaders within a wide array of industries and backgrounds that have consistently worked towards equality in our community.”

The LGBTQ+ Committee consists of Rodriguez, who is also the Executive Director of the Gay Officers Action League in Central Florida (GOALcfl); Joel Morales, Director of Operations at The Center; Ashley Figueroa, Project Manager at Bliss Cares; Jerick Mediavilla, Recruitment Development Director at Universidad Ana G. Mendez Metro Orlando Campus; Roxy Santiago, President of The Center Board of Directors; and Luis Martinez, City of Orlando’s Multicultural Affairs & International Relations Deputy Manager. Rodriguez and Santiago are also members of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Greater Orlando Steering Committee.

“Our community reaches so many different areas and people that it’s important for us to continue to grow and continue to be inclusive of everyone,” said Florida Puerto Rican Parade Chairperson Ralph Morales. “We are proud of the hardworking people who are members of the LGBTQ community and happen to be Puerto Ricans. We want to make sure that they feel that our parade is a house for them also.”

The Florida Puerto Rican Parade and Festival, which is in the planning stage of its fourth annual celebration, has fast become one of downtown Orlando’s most attended parades. Central Florida is home to more than 400,000 residents who identify as Puerto Rican making them the largest Hispanic population in the area.

“For many Puerto Ricans living in the area, especially those who identify as LGBTQ+, Orlando has been a haven where they not only feel close to their family roots but they can love in freedom and acceptance,” Rodriguez said. “After the Pulse attack, Orlando became a city where everyone wanted to show support and love the entire [LGBTQ+] community and that’s what we wanted to share with the Puerto Rican Day Parade.”

The Fourth Annual Florida Puerto Rican Parade & Festival will be Saturday, April 25, 2020 in Downtown Orlando. For more information on the parade, festival and supporting events, visit FloridaPuertoRicanParade.org.

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