Each year Baton Rouge Pride honors individuals who help better our community. We are extremely excited to have honored each and every individual over the years.
Dylan Waguespack is a governmental affairs professional with a record of success in advancing progressive legislation and administrative policy in Louisiana. As a legislative and political communications consultant in Louisiana, he moves favorable bills from the drafting process all the way to the Governor’s desk for his clients and prevents unfavorable bills from passing. In addition to his state work, he is registered to lobby the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, where he represents his client National Center for Transgender Equality in their efforts to advance their policy priorities, including the landmark LGBTQ civil rights bill, the Equality Act, which passed the U.S. House in April of 2019. Dylan is the Board President of Louisiana Trans Advocates, a nonprofit organization advancing the core human rights of self-determination and expression for all trans, nonbinary and gender nonconforming people in Louisiana. During the off-season, he travels as often as he can get away with, consults on political campaigns, spends time with his partner Matthew and their dog Ham.
This is what he had to say about his work: In Louisiana, we're so dependent on local and federal protections, since our state legislature is such a tough space to do LGBTQ liberation work. I'm extraordinarily proud of having been one of the lead lobbyists who worked to secure passage of the Equality Act through the U.S. House of Representatives. And now, I'm excited that Louisiana Trans Advocates is shifting gears to focus on local protections throughout our state. There are so many cities and parishes that are ready for these conversations, and we're proud of the work we've done to prepare to lead them.
"I wake up most days and want to pinch myself. My life has not turned out the way I imagined it would. You know, it wasn't that long ago that I was a 19 year old living at a homeless shelter with no plan, no opportunities, and no resources. If the recognition I'm receiving from Baton Rouge Pride gives me an opportunity to share any single message with LGBTQ young people in our community, I would want it to be that you can do anything."
"I deeply appreciate that Baton Rouge Pride is honoring transgender leadership in this moment when transgender Americans are being attacked in all areas of our lives. I'm grateful to Baton Rouge Pride for acknowledging the work they're doing in the community. Being recognized by Baton Rouge Pride in this way is such an honor."
He had these words for trans youth of Louisiana: "It doesn't matter where you come from or what your reality is right now. Louisiana Trans Advocates has made it possible for me and so many other trans people to rise out of what felt like impossible circumstances. And you can too."
We here at BR Pride are grateful for his service and gratified to be able to honor Dylan in this way.
Aaron Moak is the first openly elected LGBT+ official (Councilman) in East Baton Rouge Parish, in fact, we believe statewide. He had two kids Travis and Carson and a partner Levi Angel Corredor. They just celebrated their third anniversary.
It is his belief that one of most important things that youth can do is pay attention to your Queer History and remain authentic to who you are: I hope the youth of today hear the message of my story and others before me. I hope they understand why and what happened to people before them and why they are where they are today. The message to them would be,be true to yourself and comfortable with yourself. Be ready to take up the mantel and help others coming after you... there is life after coming out and you can be yourself.
When asked what advice he would give to his younger self he said: “OMG this one is hard because I have always told everyone even after coming out late in life I really would not change much. Everything has happened for a reason and I have enjoyed and loved what God has given me what I have had in my life. I guess advise wise it would have been 1. Invest in Microsoft and Amazon very young 2. See number 1.”
We are grateful to be able to honor such a engaged member of our community. As Aaron told us: “I enjoy working with and for an organization that promotes the health, safety and welfare of the community.”
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.
The Baton Rouge Pride team unanimously selected community leader John Deshotel, Jr. to serve as the honorary grand marshal of the 2017 Baton Rouge Pride festival.
Deshotel, who has served in leadership roles for the Krewe of Apollo Baton Rouge and the Baton Rouge Pride team for many years, is known as a friend to many in the community. “He’s a tremendous asset to any organization he joins,” said Chris Bradford, co-chair of the Baton Rouge Pride team.
Deshotel joins a distinguished list of grand marshals of Baton Rouge Pride, which began recognizing community leaders as honorary grand marshals for the third year of its celebration in 2009. A native a Baton Rouge, a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University, and a nurse by profession, one of Deshotel’s interests in his spare time is cake decorating. As a result, he has been responsible for the elaborate creations displayed for the blessing of relationships at BR Pride since 2011.
Deshotel has served eight years on the BR Pride team, most of those as its vice chairman. In addition, his involvement in the Krewe of Apollo Baton Rouge also includes an impressive record of leadership – serving two terms as its president, twice as its bal masque captain, its king in 2012-13, and multiple times as a board member, officer or bal lieutenant. He also has been recognized with a variety of honors including being named the 2016 recipient of “The One Award” from Pride 1 for his “outstanding accomplishments and commitments to better the lives of the Baton Rouge LGBT community.” He also has been inducted into the Apollo Hall of Fame, recognized twice by other Apollo president’s with the Hal S. Philips, Jr. Memorial President’s Award for service to the Krewe of Apollo Baton Rouge; awarded the Apollo Truman May Memorial Captain’s Award twice, and honored with Apollo’s Founder’s Brotherhood Award.
The Baton Rouge Pride team has selected community leader Kayla Mulford to serve as the honorary grand marshal of the 2016 Baton Rouge pride festival. Mulford, who serves as president of Capital City Alliance among many other community activities, was the unanimous selection of this year’s Baton Rouge Pride team. “We couldn’t think of anyone better qualified to serve as the honorary grand marshal for the 10th anniversary celebration of Baton Rouge Pride,” said John Deshotel, vice chairman of Baton Rouge Pride Inc. and head of the search committee for this year’s grand marshal. “The things Kayla does in the community are certainly amazing.” She joins a distinguished list of grand marshals of Baton Rouge Pride, which began recognizing community leaders as honorary grand marshals for the third year of its celebration in 2009. The former grand marshals include the late Richard Dykes, owner of George’s, in 2009; Larry Fremin, founder of the Krewe of Apollo Baton Rouge, in 2010; James Chinn, also known as Trixxie LaRue, a longtime entertainer and activist, 2011; Daphne Mushatt, longtime entertainer and community supporter, 2012; Carol Frazier and Jody Huckaby, leaders of PFLAG locally and nationally, 2013; Cami Miller and Joe Traigle, early organizers and leaders of Capital City Alliance, 2014; and Rev. Keith Mozingo, pastor of MCC of Baton Rouge and one of the founders of Baton Rouge Pride, and Whitney Vann, TV personality and longtime community friend, 2015. The Baton Rouge Pride festival is the largest indoor family friendly GLBTQ pride celebration in the South. Mulford has been active in Capital City Alliance since 2012 and has served as its president for nearly three years. She helped to organize the first Louisiana Equality March in 2012 and continued that work for three years, as well as organizing CCA’s holiday adoption project that has raised more than $10,000 to provide gifts to children affected by HIV/AIDS over the past five years. She also was a driving force behind the Louisiana Loves campaign last year that featured 100 iconic GLBTQ couples from across the state and was instrumental in CCA’s publication of a GLBT wedding directory – all just in time for last summer’s marriage equality decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. In addition to her rigorous schedule of service with CCA, Mulford also is active as a volunteer with a number of other community organizations and initiatives such as Baton Rouge Pride, Pride 1, Equality Louisiana (EQLA), Youth Oasis, Family Services of Greater Baton Rouge and Chairman: Tom Merrill • 1 st Vice Chair: John Deshotel • 2 nd Vice Chair: Rev. Keith Mozingo a host of other anti-bullying campaigns and various local and national platforms advocating for LGBTQ communities. Recognized in 2014 as the Pride 1 Female Advocate of the Year, Mulford’s professional life, in addition to her community service, includes serving as a paralegal for approximately 10 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree from LSU and has been with her “beautiful partner” for nine years and has four “furry kids that I am obsessed with.” She also says she loves to travel, read, shop, attend concerts, binge-watch trash TV and occasionally enjoy a good bottle of wine. Baton Rouge Pride is pleased to recognize Kayla Mulford as its honorary grand marshal for 2016.
Rev. Keith Mozingo is well known in the community as both the pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Baton Rouge and an advocate of a variety of causes.
Mozingo first came to Baton Rouge on the MCC ‘Caravan of Hope’ in response to Hurricane Katrina, bringing both people and resources to those working with pet rescue – a cause dear to his heart – in New Orleans. At that time, he was serving as the minister of congregational care at MCC Los Angeles, but he later returned to Baton Rouge in 2007 when he was called as the pastor here. Mozingo not only has been involved with the usual life of the church here but also has embarked on a mission of bringing people and groups together, not just on a spiritual level, but as a cohesive community. In that vein, he participates in a variety of community and interfaith groups and shepherded the transformation of the MCC property on Tom Drive in Baton Rouge into the Freedom Center, which is open for meetings of a variety of groups. Even more, he was a driving force in the formation of Baton Rouge Pride and has served on its leadership team since its inception in 2007. As part of that group, he conceived the idea of the resource fair and the blessing of relationships that has been an annual part of the festival since 2008.
Whitney Vann is a true personal friend to many in the community, as well as a long-time ally to it.
Vann, currently hosting her own show â€œWeekends With Whitney, which celebrates the unique people, places and experiences in Louisiana. That came after more than 25 years as an anchor and reporter for television news â€“ 17 of those on WBRZ morning show 2une In. When not on TV, you can find Vann devoting time to a variety of community causes in Baton Rouge, where she resides with her husband and two children. You also can find her befriending many in our community, as well, and likely have seen her on the Facebook pages of many of us here for Baton Rouge Pride or at the social gatherings of some of your friends“ making her well deserving of the title of a friend of our community.
Cami has been a psychiatric nurse, an interpreter, a ship
chandler, a debt collector, a nanny, a trainer, a coach, and once for about 5½ years, sold sand to Arabs.
Cami became active in GLBTQ affairs in 1998. She worked with Capital City Alliance, a community organization dedicated to impacting policy with the goal of making Baton Rouge a more inclusive, tolerant community serving as co-chair. She was also a member of DBR HOPE, started by Reverend Howard Hall. DBR HOPE was a GBLT outreach ministry of the Catholic Baton Rouge Diocese. She also served on the board of the Lesbian and Gay Political Action Committee (LAGPAC). She is inspired by the changes taking place in our country and the world related to LGBTQ rights.
Cami has been coaching entrepreneurs and business leaders since 1992. Her specialty is teaching people how to go beyond their technical expertise by developing the skills necessary for success. She has done training and coaching in a wide variety of businesses from chemical plants, to hospitals, to charitable organizations. Cami works with business groups and organizations to improve performance, productivity and communication.
She has a Master’s degree in Psychosocial Nursing from Southeastern Louisiana University, is a graduate of Coach University and a Master Practitioner of NeuroLinguistic Programming.
Cami is a certified trainer of Certified Networker, Room Full of Referrals, The Pipeline Seminar, and The Coaching Clinic. She is also certified in DISC behavior styles profile.
Cami lives with her wife Susan in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and has two children Andy, 27 a comedian who lives in New Orleans and Alia, 24 who lives and works in California building trails in the back country of Yosemite.
Cami’s hobbies are photography, travel and stand-up comedy.
Joe Traigle was raised in Belle Chasse, Louisiana, graduated with his Bachelor in Science and an MBA from Ole Miss, married shortly after and has two grown children from his marriage.
At 28, Traigle moved to Baton Rouge to serve a 4 year term as Louisiana’s Secretary of Revenue. Traigle then served in a number of civic and business positions in Baton Rouge including: President of Great American Corporation & American Bank, Chairman of the Baton Rouge Chamber of Commerce, etc.
In 1990, after his divorce, Joe sought professional counseling. During this time he was able to embrace ethereality of being a gay man. At 50 years old, Traigle began living his life in Baton Rouge as an openly gay businessman.
In the early 90’s Traigle and some other individuals founded the Capital City Alliance, an equality group dedicated to the advancement of GLBT issues and has been an active equality activist ever since. Traigle is one of the leaders in the One Baton Rouge initiative, which in 2007.
Joe and his partner, Carey Long, have been together 20 years.
Carol Frazier is credited by many with a crucial role in the major revival of the Baton Rouge PFLAG chapter. Serving as its president, she is a committed straight ally to the local LGBT community, and PFLAG here has grown tremendously under her leadership. A long-term care insurance specialist and business owner, Frazier also has been involved in the leadership of a variety of other community organizations. Among her expressed passions is making a difference to improve the lack of understanding and years of negative programming from conservatives and fundamentalists in Louisiana.
Jody Huckaby is the executive director of PFLAG National, and Carol Frazier is the president of the Baton Rouge chapter of PFLAG.
Huckaby, a native of Eunice, has held his current position with PFLAG since 2005 and is one of the longest-tenured leaders of a national LGBT organization. With more than 20 years of experience as a nonprofit leader, Huckaby travels extensively, both domestically and internationally, to train and speak about the importance of the family and ally voice in advancing acceptance and equality. He has become a visible spokesperson on issues affecting the GLBT community and loved ones, and he brings a unique perspective to his work – based upon growing up in a small Southern town in a large conservative family with a strong faith background.
She was a Born Diva, but she’s so very much more. That’s what the Baton Rouge Pride Fest is proud to recognize Daphne MuShatt as this year’s honorary grand marshal.
An entertainer since 1978, she has a style all her own and has performed around the world. Many people locally have enjoyed her music, and she’s been a favorite at Pride Fest. We think she truly was born a diva, and then she became part of a duo with that name – the Born Divas. Since then, she’s also performed in the area with She The Band, N-2N and then Grown Ass Women. Now, she is getting her groove on with Papa’s Groove.
Her involvement in the community certainly goes well beyond her performances, however. In a recent example, she helped drive what locals knew as the Love Byrds benefit, and she is known throughout the country for their efforts to raise money for AIDS and other causes. It goes without a doubt that she and her groups have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the care of people affected by AIDS and other health crises through the years.
Reviewers of her performance have frequently noted she is an impressive personnage no matter how you look at it, and one even said she made “Dolly Parton look like an adolescent boy.” What’s really impressive, though, is the size of her heart, because she’s certainly someone who involved in our community and enthusiastic about supporting charities and those in need.
Some of you know him as James Chinn, but probably more of you know her as Trixxie LaRue. Either way, the Baton Rouge Pride Fest is pleased to recognize one of our community’s heroes as this year’s honorary grand marshal.
“He’s just the sort of person who makes you feel good and feel good about being yourself.” That quote from one of our Pride Fest team members probably best sums up why Trixxie, aka James, was the unanimous choice for this honor in 2011.
As can be seen by the photo above, Trixxie has been a member of the Krewe of Apollo for more than 12 years and has “costumed” for its ball and participated in a variety of other fundraising events. But the public service doesn’t stop there. Trixxie also is a NoH8 promoter, Cancer Society promoter and a NO AIDS Task Force supporter and promoter and is currently promoting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and its battle with cancer and other childhood diseases.
As a host at Splash Nightclub and its predecessors for more than 20 years, many people have been greeted there and other places in the community by hearing, “Hi. I’m Trixxie!” as he goes out of his way to make people feel comfortable and welcome.
Voted the 2010 emcee of the year in the Pride One Awards, Trixxie was selected to host the 2011 Krewe of Divas Pride Ball. She’s also a former Miss New Orleans (1988) and Miss Apollo Baton Rouge (2001).
Larry Fremin, one of the founding members of the Krewe of Apollo Baton Rouge, is serving as honorary grand marshal of this year’s Baton Rouge Pride Fest.
When it came to making the choice, Pride Fest team members were unanimous in their decision to honor Fremin, who has been active in the Baton Rouge GLBT community for many years and helped to found the Krewe of Apollo here 30 years ago.
Fremin, who is serving as captain for Apollo's 30th anniversary ball this year, has served that organization continuously since its founding. He was its first king and has been the captain for every one of its major anniversary balls (every five years). He’s also served repeatedly as an officer and has been in every position on its board of directors.
In addition, he’s been an avid supporter of a variety of community causes, including Apollo's AIDS Crisis Fund, the Children's Miracle Network Halloween Ball and many others. That comes on top of being a long-time Baton Rouge businessman as an owner of Four Seasons Flowers and Gifts.
Although the Baton Rouge Pride Fest started three years ago, 2009 marks the first year we’ve honored an individual for service to the community.
When it came time to decide who to recognize, the committee had no problem reaching a unanimous decision to name longtime businessman and community member Richard Dykes as the Honorary Grand Marshal of the 2009 Baton Rouge Pride Fest.
Richard has been involved with George’s Place, the city’s oldest continuously operating GLBT-targeted business, throughout the bulk of its 39-year history. He joined George’s as a bartender in the late 1970s and relatively quickly became its manager and served in that capacity for many years. Even more, he and his partner Guy Schmeider have been its owners for the past 21 years.
More than just a businessman, however, Richard has been active in community groups and has tirelessly supported community efforts both as an individual and a bar owner. George’s has hosted numerous fundraisers for groups and individuals over the years, and its owners and staff have gone above and beyond to sustain our community.
It is our pleasure to recognize a true friend of the Baton Rouge GLBT community, as well as a true friend to many of us in it – Richard Dykes, Honorary Grand Marshal, Baton Rouge Pride Fest 2009.