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Miami Beach Celebrates Gay Pride - This Year With New Youth District And Safe Zone

Miami Beach celebrated pride in its 10th annual Gay Pride Festival this past week. Events began last Monday with a rainbow flag-raising ceremony at City Hall.

On Sunday, the event culminated with a parade. Ocean Drive was shut down for the duration of the main parade, which ran from Fifth to 15th streets.

Paul Thomas is on the board of Miami Beach Gay Pride. He said 83 groups would draw a crowd of more than 135,000 people.

“Lots of creativity, lots of fun as everybody marches down Ocean Drive celebrating who they are,” he said.

New this year was a youth district and safe zone. It was hosted by LGBTQ youth support group Pridelines.

Jowharah Sanders, a Pridelines youth engagement coordinator, said the district is meant to provide a safe place for younger participants.

“They can’t get into these other booths that are 21 and over, and then you’re looking at them sad, like ‘I wish I could go in there,’” she said. “That’s okay, we got you. We have a space for you now.”

Julian Becker is a freshman at Miami Beach High, who was marching with Pridelines.

“The hardest times for a lot of queer people is youth because it is a very new and scary experience at first, so being able to see that and empower young people to get out and be part of the community is incredible,” he said.