Former NFL Player Esera Tuaolo Named Miami Beach Pride's 2020 Advocate Grand Marshal

Wednesday March 11, 2020

Miami Beach Pride is proud to announce Esera Tuaolo, one of only 13 former NFL football players to come out as gay or bisexual, as the 2020 advocate grand marshal. The honor recognizes advocacy efforts for the LGBTQ+ community, and Tuaolo's dedication to imparting the importance of diversity, inclusion and acceptance as a public figure and through his nonprofit work makes him an ideal choice for this role.

He will participate in Miami Beach Pride's 12th annual celebration March 28-April 5, along with making an appearance in the Pride Parade April 5.

Tuaolo played in the NFL for 10 consecutive seasons with the Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons, and the Carolina Panthers. He was the first rookie in the Green Bay Packers' history to start all 16 games and was a member of the 1991 all-rookie team. In college, he was the winner of the Morris Trophy, awarded to the best defensive player in the Pacific-10 Conference. He was a member of the All-Pacific-10 Team in 1988, 1989 and 1990.

According to Tuaolo, he felt forced to hide his sexuality as a gay man due to the professional football environment's hyper-masculine culture.

"The secret crippled me, leading me to drink excessively and even contemplate suicide," Tuaolo said. "It also hindered my football performance as I felt that if I were too good a player, I would be exposed as gay. I led a double life that deeply depressed me, but I now look back on it with a new perspective. During this difficult time, I persevered by following my mother's example and maintaining a strong sense of faith."

After retiring from professional football, Tuaolo publicly announced his sexuality in 2003 on "HBO Real Sports," an experience he describes as "taking off a costume I've been wearing all my life." One of only 13 former NFL players to ever come out as gay or bisexual, he has received support from previous teammates, the media, friends and family.

"It's an honor to serve as Miami Beach Pride's advocate grand marshal," Tuaolo said. "Since coming out of the closet in 2003, I've dedicated my time speaking at schools and corporations about the pervasiveness of homophobia in sports and businesses to help organizational leaders understand how to create safe environments for athletes and employees. I'm grateful to meet with fellow members of the LGBTQ+ community in Miami Beach as we demonstrate how important it is to embrace ourselves for who we are, and others for who they are, no matter what."

Tuaolo has made appearances on television programs such as "The Oprah Winfrey Show," "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," "The Tyra Banks Show" and "Good Morning America" to address inclusion, diversity and homophobia in today's society and sports environment. Tuaolo was also a contestant on Season 13 of "The Voice."

"We are thrilled to have Esera Tuaolo serve as our Miami Beach Pride advocate grand marshal this year," said Bruce Horwich, chairman of Miami Beach Pride. "His courage and perseverance set a positive example for others who may be struggling with coming out. Educating people of all ages about accepting LGBTQ+ youth and adults alike is helping create a safer and more tolerant world for our diverse community."

Tuaolo also serves as executive director of Hate Is Wrong, a nonprofit that encourages diversity in sports and anti-bullying among youth. The organization provides inclusion-based education to share its messages of acceptance at events across the United States, including the Super Bowl Inclusion Panel and the Super Bowl Inclusion Party.

"Through these efforts, audiences of all ages are learning how to identify and peacefully combat bullying and other forms of discrimination," Tuaolo said. "Audiences are inspired to be their best selves by speaking to their individual truths without fear or intimidation."

To learn more about Tuaolo and Hate is Wrong, visit hateiswrong.org.


About Miami Beach Pride

Miami Beach Pride is a nine-day celebration taking place March 28-April 5, 2020. Events include a rainbow flag-raising ceremony at Miami Beach City Hall, a festival and parade with exclusive VIP areas, renowned celebrities, musical performances, refreshments, food, a lounge for LGBTQ+ seniors, "The Garden of Eve" Women's Tent, the Tea Tent, and family-friendly and pet play areas. Other events include a Pride Lights the Night remembrance for the victims of the PULSE nightclub shooting, a Queer Art Pop-Up Showcase, a Miss Miami Beach Pride drag queen pageant, a Social Justice Night, the Miami Beach Pride Ball and an exclusive VIP Gala.

Since its inception in 2009, Miami Beach Pride has grown from a neighborhood event to an international extravaganza featuring A-list celebrities such as Gus Kenworthy, Ross Mathews, Bebe Rexha, Andy Cohen, Elvis Duran, Iggy Azalea, Jordin Sparks, Gloria Estefan and Adam Lambert. After its inaugural year in 2009, with an estimated 15,000 spectators, Miami Beach Pride has grown to an event attracting approximately 170,000 attendees. In addition to parade spectators, the 2019 event included more than 100 parade contingencies, 35 floats and 4,000 participants.

Miami Beach Pride is made possible with the support of the Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority, the City of Miami Beach, the Miami-Dade County Tourist Development Council, the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners. Celebrity Cruises returns as presenting sponsor. While still a work in progress, additional sponsors for Miami Beach Pride 2020, as of February 28, 2020, include AHF Pharmacy; Ambiente Magazine/Unity Coalition; American Airlines; Anidjar & Levine Accident Attorneys; Atlantic Broadband; AxelBeach Miami; Babe Wine; Baptist Health; Belle Isle Moonshine; Bud Light; Capital One; the Clevelander; Coca-Cola; the Confidante; Crunch Fitness; Crystal Academy; Delta Airlines; Dr. Brandt Skincare; Dunkin' Donuts; Edge Media Network; Entercom; Enterprise Holdings; Gilead; the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau; The Hartford; HealthMerch; Herradura; Jack Daniel's; Jack Daniel's Country Cocktails; Jackson Health Systems; Korbel Prosecco; Let's Stop HIV Together; Lexus; Lincoln Road; Magic City Casino; Miami Foundation; Mini USA; the Nest Rooftop Sunset Lounge; Nissan; NBC 6, Out of the Closet Thrift Stores; Telemundo 51 and Comcast Spotlight; The Postcard Agency; Red Bull; Source Events; South Beach Group Hotels; TD Bank; Tito's Handmade Vodka; Trulieve; University of Miami-Nova Southeastern University Center for Autism & Related Disabilities; Visa; W. BRADFORD; Waste Management; and Wire Magazine.

For more information about Miami Beach Pride 2020, please visit www.miamibeachpride.com

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