ORLANDO | Joel Strack has been an out and proud leader, activist and trailblazer in the Central Florida LGBTQ community for over 40 years.
Strack was instrumental in launching what would become known as Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom, helped create Orlando’s first Pride parade and assisted in founding both the Orlando Gay Chorus and the Gay and Lesbian History Museum.
Because of his impact on the LGBTQ community, Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan presented Strack with a city proclamation at a celebration of life event held at Leu Gardens in Orlando June 23.
The event’s theme was a Quinceanera, since Strack’s birthday—Feb. 29— only occurs every four years, the next leap year will mark Strack’s “15th birthday.”
Sheehan presented Strack—who was dressed to the nines in a glittery red gown, red sunglasses and a big blond wig— with the proclamation in front of a packed room of Strack’s family, friends and community members.
The proclamation reads:
Whereas, Joel Strack is a vital and cherished member of the [LGBTQ] Orlando community; and
Whereas, Joel was born on Leap year on February 29, so we are celebrating his Quinceanera; and
Whereas, Joel retired from Walt Disney World, but during his professional tenure helped with the first (unofficial) Gay Days at Disney Events, giving advice to his LGBTQ brothers and sisters about what conduct was permitted, and how to fully enjoy their visit; and
Whereas, Joel helped to organize the first pride parade with Orlando Regional Pride, and put the city fees on his personal credit card for reimbursement from donations. Joel got his friends from the entertainment industry to volunteer dance and provide entertainment the 1990’s. Joel is proud to see how the parade has grown today; and
Whereas, Joel served as President of the Rainbow Democratic Club, and was instrumental in getting the club chartered with the Orlando County Democratic Executive Committee, which was not an easy task at the time. Joel enlisted volunteers to help elect the first openly gay elected official in 2000. Joel lobbied for protections in housing, public accommodation and housing from Central Florida elected officials that has led to lasting change in Orange County; and
Whereas, Joel helped found the Gay and Lesbian History Museum, so that young members of the LGBTQ community know how important the fight for equality is and that no one is forgotten or erased from history; and
Whereas, Joel is appreciative of his parents and siblings for being supportive of Joel as a gay man before it was socially acceptable to do so; and
Whereas, Joel relishes his reputation as a troublemaker, and loved repeatedly calling an 800 number to charge an anti-gay group for the calls. He loved to the word “gay money” on dollar bills. He loved to choreograph elaborate rainbow flag routines that were performed at both Marches on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights; and
Whereas, Joel is known for his positive message, “Treat yourself right.”; and
Whereas, Joel Strack champions a lasting legacy of love, devotion, friendship, and smiling in the face of adversity and never giving up.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, COMMISSIONER PATTY SHEEHAN and a grateful LGBTQ community do extend a heartfelt Thank You to Joel and do hereby proclaim Sunday, June 23, 2019 to be “Joel Strack Day” in the City of Orlando.
Check out photos from the celebration below.
Photos by J.D. Casto.