Musicians respond to 'Don't Say Gay' bill as they look forward to celebrating Palm Beach Pride
Palm Beach Pride is celebrating its 30th anniversary by hosting a mass wedding this weekend. The Compass Community Center in Lake Worth Beach is inviting 30 couples to tie the knot.
The two-day festival takes place this weekend at Bryant Park in Lake Worth Beach, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
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The festival's music headliners shared their thoughts on Florida's Parental Rights in Education bill, known as the "Don't Say Gay" bill by LGBTQ advocates. Yoli Mayor, who was dubbed the "Cuban Adele" during her semi-finals run on America's Got Talent, said LGBTQ Pride is a celebration and an act of resistance.
“I was a kid who found solace in my school and in my teachers and in the protection and the safety that I felt in being able to confide in them,” Mayor said.
“Some people do need to have a safe space in their school. And to not be able to say gay or mention that you are gay without fear of your parents being called — it’s dangerous.”
The first generation Cuban American from Miami’s Little Havana describes her music as “blue-eyed soul with Cuban roots.” The vocalist said music is transcendent regardless of what language people speak — her music exudes "confidence and self-love," a “message that is more human than it is political.”
“I was raised by what I would like to say is the epitome of a Cuban. I was raised by people who made things out of nothing,” Mayor said. "I was raised by a grandmother who came here from Cuba with no education and ran a business for 40 years, raised sons and then raised grandkids. I feel I have a lot to live up to — and that's what I try to do with my music.”
Musician Roger Jackson, better known by his stage name RogerThat, says he’s also using his dance music to uplift LGBTQ youth.
“I’m looking forward to using my privilege and ability to live free and open ... to empower other people and other voices that don’t have the community and don’t have this foundation to express themselves,” Jackson said. “And just really ensure that when we go to Pride, we are celebrating who we are without fear.”
Jackson, who was the star of an award-winning documentary at the inaugural Subculture Film Festival in West Palm Beach, called the "Don’t Say Gay" bill “extremely vague and extremely dangerous.”
“Pride should be a place of enjoyment and celebration and the fact that we are bombarded with this nonsense is crazy.”
The West Palm Beach native says his music is rooted in his love for the fashion industry — he’s inspired by “feeling like your most authentic self, like when you get dressed up to go out.”
“You don't want to be sad all the time — so the most important thing is to dance,” Jackson said. ”I feel like dance is the gateway to my happiness.”
Michael Riordan, a representative for the Compass Community Center, said the controversial bill won’t steal the joy from Pride.
“You just need to come and be yourself in defiance of these people that are trying to limit free speech and free expression and the freedoms that we're supposed to enjoy as people, as Americans,” Riordan said. ”So I think that Pride, in general, is a stance against this bill.”
The Compass Community Center says couples will tie the knot with help from the Palm Beach County Clerk’s Office. Riordan said the mass wedding will be held on Sunday, at 1 p.m.
“We don't care if you identify as hetero, gay, lesbian or what your gender identity is. As long as you're an adult and able to get married legally in the state, you can participate in this event," he added.
“And If you've already been married, but you kind of want to renew your vows in front of, you know, ten to fifteen thousand people — this is the place to be.”