It was a pleasure to sit down with the director of development of the Pride Center at Equality Park, Roger Roa, just a couple weeks before their biggest event of the year: WICKED MANORS!
What’s your claim-to-fame?
I helped start many of the special events in the City of Wilton Manors, like the tree lighting and others, when I worked for the City in 2003.
Where did you grow up?
I am like the pink flamingo; they are native to the area, but have you ever seen one in the wild? I am from Hialeah but moved to Fort Lauderdale/Plantation at 10 years old.
What’s something special about Miami that isn’t common knowledge?
Miami was founded by a woman (Julia Tuttle) and was named after one of the tribes that lived here (The Mayaimi Tribe in the 16th & 17th Centuries). There’s your history lesson for the day.
Did you live anywhere other than South Florida? If so, where?
I did live in Atlanta while I attended graduate school and worked at the conference center.
What part of South Florida do you live in now?
When I moved back to S. FL, I told my husband I would only move to Wilton Manors.
What do you like most about living here?
I love that we live in a bubble that has a large LGBTQ+ community. South Florida has so many cultures, and the saying “it’s a melting pot” is my favorite because I have been here to see all the ingredients come into the pot.
Where do you hang out in South Florida?
I love to visit places that remind me of my youth, like downtown Miami, Midtown, or Little Havana. I hang out on Wilton Drive almost every week/end. You can catch me having a drink at Johnsons or lunch at Rosie’s.
What South Florida venue do you miss that’s gone?
The Coliseum was one of the best dance venues. The music, the performances, and the men; all made it like an oasis for our community.
If you had to live somewhere else other than here, where would you live?
I love Spain, specifically Barcelona. The beaches, the foods, and the men. I could just eat them, I mean it up… the foods. Hopefully, I will retire there one day.
Which one of your old jobs least prepared you for what you do now?
I think all of my jobs taught me something and prepared me for the next one. But I think working at a tanning salon didn’t prepare me for anything except how to not look orange.
How long have you been in your current role at The Pride Center?
I have been the Director of Development for over eight years.
Of all the events that The Pride Center produces, what’s the most difficult one?
Of course, Wicked Manors Halloween, so many moving parts, and making sure we provide the safest place for everyone is a little stressful.
What’s been the most moving or rewarding event that you’ve been a part of so far?
When I worked in Atlanta, my job was to organize high-profile speakers, and I met former presidents, ambassadors, and inspiring celebrities.
What’s the craziest thing that you’ve ever seen at Wicked Manors?
Well, it’s hard to say with now eight years of themes and thousands of costumes, but one year the winning outfit was a rolling bed with a possessed person tied to it.
What was the best costume that you ever saw at Wicked Manors?
Again, another tricky question… each year’s theme really encourages our community to become creative and craftwork of arts, but if I had to pick, the year that Mrs. Packman Arcade costume won. I am excited to see what people create with this year’s theme, “TURN BACK TIME.”
Who’s your dream entertainer or headliner for Wicked Manors?
Beyoncé, but we can’t afford her. I would love to have Megan Thee Stallion, or Doja Cat put on a show, but I’m old school, so I would hire Missy Elliott!
Other than Wicked Manors, what’s your favorite Halloween event?
Honestly, I am a chicken for anything scary-related, but I love SAVE annual Halloween Party. That is typically the only time I get to dress up and have fun. I generally run around at Wicked Manors and don’t really enjoy much of the event; it’s a sacrifice I do for our community…LOL!
You have a Shakespeare quote on your Facebook page. Is he one of your favorite writers? If not, who is? If Shakespeare is one of your favorites, what makes him so good?
Wow, you did some digging; I had to go back to my profile and see the quote myself.
“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” – (Shakespeare)
YES! I love Shakespeare. I mean, half the time I don’t understand what it is he wrote, but this specific quote spoke to me, and it says that each and every one of us is a great person…no matter where and when we earn that greatness….born great, achieve greatness, or having greatness thrust upon us. In my opinion, being a great person doesn’t mean he/she/they have to be known by the whole world, being a great person means being somebody who can bring great/valuable things for him/herself/themselves and for his/her/their environment.
Is there anything else that you’d like to say?
Yes, I want people to know that Wicked Manors is a fundraiser and the proceeds from this event go to support the programs and services that The Pride Center provides free to our community. We don’t just throw a party to have a party; this event promotes The Center to all of south Florida and raises needed funds. Of course, we could not do it without the support of our Presenting Sponsors: Hunters Nightclub Fort Lauderdale and AIDS Healthcare Foundations; both support our mission and strengthen our community. Remember that there will be a $5 entrance fee to cover our security expenses. Visit WickedManors.org for more details.
And finally, what did you do to keep yourself busy during the quarantine?
I called my donors daily, and when I was done with the list (300+ numbers), I started all over again. People don’t realize that as the extroverted person I am, quarantining is not good, but I did pick up a few new skills and a couple of pounds from not going to the gym.