Atlanta Pride picks 3 as honorary grand marshals

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If your gay parts are just itching for a big parade through Midtown, there's news to please you. Atlanta Pride unveiled a trio of honorary grand marshals that includes a true hero, a glass-ceiling shattering Latina sheriff and an award -winning playwright.

Last week, it was a slate of local LGBT activists and allies tapped as grand marshals to lead the Oct. 13 parade. On Thursday, Pride announced its selections for honorary grand marshals, who are residents of places other than Georgia with an outsized reputation for LGBT activism. The list includes Daniel Hernandez, Jr. (top photo), the former Congressional intern credited with helping to save the life of then U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords during a 2011 assassination attempt; Lupe Valdez, the lesbian sheriff of Dallas County, Texas; and playwright Del Shores of “Sordid Lives” fame.

“These individuals live lives of courage, compassion, activism, and visibility, even if those things are done just by going about their daily business,” Pride Executive Director Buck Cooke says in the announcement.

In 2011, Pride selected rugby stud Ben Cohen and Harvey Milk Foundation’s Stuart Milk, the gay rights icon’s nephew, as honorary grand marshals.

The full announcement from Atlanta Pride:


Atlanta, Georgia – After selecting their 2013 Grand Marshals last week, the Atlanta Pride Committee now announces their 2013 Honorary Grand Marshals.  

While the Grand Marshals are local activists who are being recognized for their work in and their support of Atlanta’s LGBT community, Honorary Grand Marshals are individuals who do not live in Georgia, who have an international reputation and are committed to LGBT-related causes and activism.

These celebrities will be featured in the annual Parade that kicks off at 1p on Sunday, October 13th.

Buck Cooke, Executive Director for the Atlanta Pride Committee, commented about the Honorary Grand Marshals, “Just as we were excited to honor a group of our hometown heroes and sheroes last week, Atlanta Pride is happy to share this outstanding list of honorees with our community.”  Cooke added, “These individuals live lives of courage, compassion, activism, and visibility, even if those things are done just by going about their daily business.”

2013 Honorary Grand Marshals are:

Daniel Hernandez Jr.: Daniel Hernandez Jr., 23, is an Arizona native and a recent graduate from the University of Arizona. A first generation college student, he was a congressional intern for the office of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona’s Eighth Congressional District and while on the job assisting Congresswoman Giffords with a constituent event in Tucson on January 8, 2011, Daniel took actions for which he is widely credited with saving the life of the congresswoman after a gunman shot her and 18 other people. His medical training, quick thinking, and brave actions on that day have caused him to be celebrated as a true American hero, although he humbly rejects the title.

He was an honored guest of the President and First Lady during the 2011 State of the Union address. He also addressed President Obama and a crowd of more than 27,000 people and over 500 international media outlets at the “Tucson: Together we Thrive” memorial on January 12, 2011.

Daniel has conducted more than 1,500 media interviews in English and Spanish with local, state, national and international outlets. Appearances include: ABC’s This Week, NBC’s Today Show, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, The Fox Report, Univision’s Al Punto, BBC World Service’s Outlook program, GQ, NPR’s Tell Me More, Time, People, CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, CBS’s Early Show, and the Washington Post.

Daniel began his activism in 2007 working on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign. In 2008 he worked on the Gabrielle Giffords congressional campaign. In 2010 Daniel directed the successful campaign to re-elect State Representative Steve Farley who

currently serves as assistant minority leader in the Arizona State House. As campaign manager he managed all aspects of the campaign including coordination with other candidates from legislative, statewide, and congressional races.

Dedicated to public service and advocacy he has served as a member on the City of Tucson Commission on LGBT issues. He served as a director on the Arizona Students’ Association’s Board of Directors and advocated for affordable and accessible higher education for all Arizonans. At the University of Arizona, Daniel has served in leadership positions with the Residence Hall Association and the Arizona Students’ Association. Daniel attended public schools in Tucson’s Sunnyside Unified School District where he received his training in certified nursing and phlebotomy.

Since 2011 he has been serving on the Sunnyside Unified District’s governing board after his election to that office. Fighting for quality education and to work on solving inequities in his district, which is a minority majority district with over 90% of students on free or reduced lunch and many at or below the federal poverty level.

Del Shores: Del Shores has written, directed and produced successfully across studio and independent film, network and cable television and regional and national touring theatre.

Shores’ career took off with the play Daddy’s Dyin’ (Who’s Got The Will?) in 1987, which ran two years, winning many Los Angeles theatre awards, including LA Weekly’s Best Production and Best Writing.  The play has subsequently been produced in over 2,500 theatres worldwide.  A movie version of Daddy’s Dyin’ was released in 1990 by MGM starring Beau Bridges, Tess Harper, Judge Reinhold, Keith Carradine and Beverly D’Angelo. Shores wrote the screenplay and executive produced the film.

Sordid Lives, his fourth play, opened in Los Angeles in 1996 and ran 13 sold-out months.  The play went on to win 14 Drama-Logue Theatre Awards, including three for Shores for wring, directing and producing. There have since been over 300 additional stage productions of the play.

In 1999, Shores wrote and directed the film version of Sordid Lives starring Beau Bridges, Delta Burke, Olivia Newton-John, Bonnie Bedelia, Leslie Jordan and Beth Grant along with most of the cast from the play.  Opening in only eight theatres across the country, the little film that could took in nearly two million dollars in its limited release. The movie became a cult phenomenon and became the longest running film in the history of Palm Springs with a record ninety-six weeks.

The movie won many festival awards including Best Film at the New York Independent Film & Video Festival, Atlanta Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, South Beach Film Festival, Memphis International Film Festival and the San Diego International Film Festival and won a total of thirteen “Audience Awards.”  In 2002 Twentieth Century Fox released the DVD/Video, which has now sold over 300,000 units.

His play Southern Baptist Sissies followed, and it enjoyed a ten-month sold-out run in Los Angeles in 2000. Revived in 2002, Sissies had another six month sold-out run. Shores received the LA Weekly, Robby and Maddy for Best Direction and the Backstage West Garland, Robby and Maddy for Best Writing.  The play was also awarded the prestigious GLAAD Award for Outstanding Production of the Year.

In 2003, The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife became Shores’ most critically acclaimed play. After a six-month sold-out run in Los Angeles, Shores won the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle’s Ted Schmitt Award for Best World Premiere of an Outstanding New Play.  The Circle also awarded the play Best Production and Best Lead Performance to Beth Grant.  Trials also won five Back Stage West Garland Awards, two NAACP Awards, an LA Stage Alliance Ovation and three LA Weekly Awards.

In 2006, Shores revived three of his plays (Sordid Lives, Southern Baptist Sissies, The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife) in Los Angeles before taking to the road for a successful six city national tour, starring Delta Burke and Leslie Jordan, which played in 1000-1700 seat houses.

Sordid Lives: The Series, a television series prequel to the film, premiered on Viacom’s LOGO network in 2008 starring Olivia Newton-John, Rue McClanahan, Leslie Jordan, Beth Grant, Caroline Rhea and many of the original stage and film cast.  Shores created, wrote, directed and executive produced all twelve episodes.  The series became LOGO’s biggest hit to date, and was distributed internationally through IMG worldwide in syndication in seventeen countries.

In addition to Sordid Lives: The Series, in television Shores has written and produced for many shows includingDharma and Greg and the last three seasons of the ground-breaking Showtime series Queer as Folk.  He also wrote, directed and produced the Showtime movie The Wilde Girls, starring Olivia Newton-John and Swoosie Kurtz.

In 2009, Shores hit the road and played 34 cities to sold-out houses with his one-man show Del Shores: My Sordid Life. The DVD was filmed and released in 2012 by Breaking Glass Pictures.  He also performed stand-up with various Sordid Lives stars including Rue McClanahan, Caroline Rhea and Leslie Jordan in A Sordid Affair, playing large theatres in Dallas, Atlanta, Ft. Lauderdale and Raleigh as well as four nights at Comix in New York City.

The world premiere of Shores’ newest play, Yellow, opened June 11, 2010 to rave reviews and ran six sold-out months.  Yellow followed in the unmatched footsteps of Shores’ six previous world premiere productions that have run collectively for over eight years and won over one hundred Los Angeles theatre awards.  The production swept various Los Angeles theatre awards including Best World Premiere, Best Production, Best Direction for Del Shores himself (Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Backstage Garland, LA Weekly, Broadway World.)  The play became Shores’ seventh Samuel French published play and just played to sold-out houses for Uptown Players in Dallas at the historic Kalita Humpheys.  He also directed the Dallas production.

Shores wrote, directed and produced the film version of his play The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife with the entire original stage cast: Beth Grant (Sordid Lives, Little Miss Sunshine, No Country For Old Men) Octavia Spencer (Oscar, Golden Globe, SAG Award Winner “Minnie” in The Help), Dale Dickey (Spirit Award Winner, Best Supporting Actress Winter’s Bone), David Steen (Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained)  and top 10 Billboard dance artist Debby Holiday.  The film adaption is entitled Blues For Willadean and was released in select theatres in late 2012.  It is now available on iTunes and other pay per view services.

In the summer of 2011, Shores took to the road again, selling out his new stand-up show Del Shores: Sordid Confessions in 40 cities.   Shores returned to his home state of Texas in January of 2012 to film the show at the famous Rose Room in Dallas.  Breaking Glass Pictures released the DVD to rave reviews.  His stand-up career continued to explode and he launched his third national tour in 2012 with Del Shores: Naked.Sordid.Reality.  The tour became his most successful and he will return to the Rose Room to film the show in March 2013 and will have performed Naked over fifty times.

Shores latest project is filming his play Southern Baptist Sissies in January 2013.  The film is currently playing the film festival circuit and stars Emerson Collins, Willam Belli, Matthew Scott Montgomery, Luke Stratte-McClure, Dale Dickey, Leslie Jordan, Newell Alexander, Rosemary Alexander, Bobbie Eakes and Ann Walker.

Shores also recently returned to acting and completed principal photography, co-starring in the independent feature Cry, due in film festivals and theatres in 2013.

Lupe Valdez:  Lupe Valdez was elected Sheriff of Dallas County, Texas on November 4, 2004.  She took the rank of the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the County of Dallas on January 1, 2005.  Sheriff Valdez is one of a few female sheriffs in the State of Texas.  Sheriff Valdez is the only Latina Sheriff in the Nation.   Sheriff Valdez has been in Law Enforcement for more than 30 years both Federal and State.  On November 6, 2012, she was re-elected to serve another four years.

Prior to becoming Sheriff, Lupe worked to protect the lives and property of American Citizens at home and abroad in homeland security, antiterrorism investigations and criminal law enforcement.  She has been featured in several books by well-known authors.

As a young child, Lupe learned strong work ethics.  She put herself through college to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from Bethany Nazarene College (now Southern Nazarene University) while sometimes working up to two jobs.  By developing sterling work habits, she propelled her career in law enforcement.   She demonstrated her commitment to constant improvement and education by earning a Master of Arts in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at Arlington.

While Sheriff, she has worked diligently to address deep structural problems that developed over the preceding 20 years.  Understaffed, overpopulated, medically deprived and conditions that were unsanitary.  In the past seven years, with the partnering of Parkland Hospital, Commissioners Court, County Probation Office and the District Attorney’s Office, she has succeeded in accomplishing:

·       Hiring 400 new detention service officers
·       Expanding the highway patrol system
·        South Tower jail facility
·       Improved the quality of healthcare for the mentally ill inmates
·       Located probation absconders, thus removing the most wanted and dangerous individuals from the neighborhoods
·       Started building a major hospital within the jail

Lupe’s commitment to public service continues by having served as member of:

·       DISD Big Brothers/Big Sisters Program
·       Women in Federal Law Enforcement Association
·       Hispanic Women’s Network of Texas
·       North Texas Crime Commission
·       North Texas Police Chief’s Association
·       Texas Jail Association
·       National Sheriff’s Association
·       Narcotics Officer’s Association
·       Texas Sheriff’s Association
·       Irving Women’s Network
·       Sheriff’s Association of Texas Legislative Committee
·       Homeland Security Advisory Council Task Force on ICE Secure Communities
·       Sheriff’s Association of Texas TCLEOSE Advisory Committee
·       Jail Advisory Committee
·       TDP Task Force
·       Others

Sheriff Valdez is featured in the HBO Documentary, “The Out List.”   Recently she received a Women’s Leadership Award by the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.

Each of the honorees added their own comments about this designation by the 2013 Atlanta Pride Committee: Daniel Hernandez Jr. stated, “I am honored to help celebrate and honor the gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender community in Atlanta.”  While Del Shores, true to form, noted, “I'm so honored to be one of this year's Honorary Grand Marshals for the 2013 Atlanta Pride Parade. I have so many friends and fans in Atlanta, have shot a movie there (“Blues for Willadean”) and my one-man shows in Atlanta are always are some of my biggest tour crowds and favorite audiences. Plus, Atlanta men are hot! I'm grateful, very grateful.”  And finally, Sheriff Valdezadded, “I have always lived my life with honor and dignity and to be selected as one of the Honorary Grand Marshals of the 2013 Atlanta Pride Parade confirms that others recognize that being true to who and what you stand for is one of the most important aspects of life. I was raised to always do and be the best at whatever it is in life I chose to do, and I thank you for the honor.”


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