Miami Beach usually host its Gay Pride celebration earlier in the year, when it's actually hospitable to spend long stretches of time outdoors. This weekend, the town's gay moguls and their straight allies mixed, mingled, and cavorted under the temperature-controlled auspices of 1 Hotel and Homes for the Miami Beach LGBT Chamber of Commerce's annual Sapphire Gala. Think of it as pride with hors d'oeuvres instead of Speedos. The event comes at a pivotal point for the city's LGBT community. While many gay and gay-friendly businesses still survive and thrive, most have made the permanent move north to greener pastures. Despite the relative thinning out of the community, this weekend's event proves that even during the off-season there's plenty to celebrate.
"Some people ask me, 'Why are you always going to so many gay events?' Well, they throw the best parties," said Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, as he accepted the night's top honors: the Morgan Stanley Bob Balsam Civic Achievement Award.
Other honorees included the Adrienne Arsht Center for its civic outreach and education programs geared towards LGBT youth, and Cindy Brown for her work with Botanical Gardens. Brown was also the founder of Miami Beach Gay Pride, who for the past year has struggled with combating breast cancer.
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"Everything I did working with the community, I couldn't have done without the chamber," said Brown during her tearful speech, as supporters gave her a standing ovation.
The whole event was hosted by 1 Hotel and Homes, formerly the Gansevoort, were attendants dined on eggplant ratatouille, mushroom penne, seafood soup, and full carving station catered by Tom Chollicio's new Miami concept Beachcraft. The food, and setting gave off a sophisticated yet relaxed beach feel without being overly stuffy.