This year’s honorary grand marshal for Baton Rouge Pride – Mike Smith – is a familiar face to most people who have participated in BR Pride over the past decade. Mike was a member of the BR Pride team and the coordinator of its resource fair for 10 years, as well as the man in charge of door prizes and a variety of other tasks throughout his tenure with the team. He also has represented Baton Rouge Pride at a variety of other pride festivals around the area including Acadiana Pride, CenLa Pride, Lake Charles Pride, Mobile Pride and New Orleans Pride – in addition to visits to far-flung locations like Chicago Pride and Victoria (British Columbia, Canada) Pride. But his involvement in the community certainly doesn’t begin or end with BR Pride or pride festivities. Among his many activities, Mike has been co-leader for the Metropolitan Community Church South Gulf Coast Network for the past six years and lay delegate/alternate lay delegate for MCC of Baton Rouge for the past nine years – in addition to serving as a dedicated volunteer and administrative assistant for MCCBR for the past 12 years. Known as “Mr. Purple Hair” to many of his friends and acquaintances, Mike also is a member of the Mystic Krewe of Apollo Baton Rouge, where he’s a lieutenant for its 2019 ball, a board member this year and chairman of its membership committee. He has costumed all four years as a Krewe member, and his humorous representations of a “Bad Baby,” “Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg?” “The Holy Cow Casino,” and “Noah’s (Rainbow) Ark” are reflective of his personality and his outlook on life. Other activities include being a member of the Renegade Bears of Louisiana and the Krewe of King Arthur, as well as serving on the first organizing committee for the Baton Rouge Equality March (also known as the Pride March), serving one term as a board member for MCCBR, assisting with Forum for Equality Candidate interviews and serving as co-director of the Miss Louisiana Plus Size Pageants for six years. While he joins the growing ranks of those honored as BR Pride grand marshals for their dedication and service to the Baton Rouge community, Mike also is known throughout the community as “one of a kind.” “In the 12 years or so that I’ve known him, Mike Smith truly is one of those people who ‘never meets a stranger,’” said BR Pride Chairman Emeritus Tom Merrill. “He’s a loyal friend, and it’s rare he crosses paths with people who don’t like him instantly. “Mike is a person who can be counted on to get any job done, and his dedication to serving our community is enormous,” Merrill continued. “But he’s also the sort of person you want to have as a traveling companion or a drinking buddy.” Although Mike certainly is much more focused on service than on rewards, his dedication has been recognized with awards such as the 2016 MCC International Network Award and twice as the winner of MCCBR’s Discipleship Award. His humor and his personality also have led to such awards as being named Mr. Chumley’s Bear Cruise in 2015 and BR Pride’s Mr. Trailer Trash in 2014. “It is with great pleasure that we get to recognize Mike for his dedication and service to the Baton Rouge community,” said BR Pride Co-Chair John Deshotel Jr., who himself was the BR Pride honorary grand marshal for 2017. “I’m glad for the time I’ve been able to work with him but even more happy to call him my friend.” Please join us in congratulating Mike Smith as the 2018 honorary grand marshal for Baton Rouge Pride.