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December 27th, 2013 by Terry Miller
Aubrey Loots and Danny Leclair, a gay male couple from Los Angeles together over a decade, will get married during the 125th Rose Parade® on AHF’s third annual float entry.
AHF float invokes the 2014 theme: ‘Dreams Come True,’ with Loots and Leclair ‘Living the Dream’ as they legally marry and proclaim with AHF that ‘Love is the Best Protection,’ recognizing the role marriage can play in reducing HIV infections among gay men.
For the third year in a row, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the largest global AIDS organization, will take part in the Rose Parade. Following a United States Supreme Court ruling in June that allowed same-sex marriages to resume in California, AHF’s float this year will celebrate same-sex marriage and the role it can play in helping to reduce new HIV infections among gay men. As part of its ‘Love is the Best Protection’ theme, AHF’s float will include what is believed to be a first: a same-sex wedding performed live during the parade. In 2013, the Rose Parade attracted approximately 700,000 attendees, aired live nationally on eight networks to 56 million viewers, and was televised in 174 countries for an additional 28 million international viewers.
Playing off the Tournament’s 2014 theme of ‘Dreams Come True,’ Aubrey Loots, 42, and Danny Leclair, 45, a gay male couple from Los Angeles together over a decade, will be ‘Living the Dream’ as they legally marry on New Year’s Day during the historic parade. AHF’s ‘Living the Dream’ float will highlight the fact that ‘Love is the Best Protection.’
Loots, originally from South Africa, and Leclair, from Canada, together own Studio DNA Salons, a chain of three successful L.A. area hair salons. Loots also shares the distinction of being recognized as a Wella Top Artist, who serves celebrity and civilian clients alike while his soon to be husband manages the day to day operations.
“Having my relationship recognized legally is already a dream come true. To be able to declare my love to the world at large in hopes of inspiring others to live proudly and authentically is an enormous honor,” said Leclair. “It’s awe inspiring to be committing your life to another person and to have millions of people bear witness. I didn’t imagine this happening in my lifetime,” added Loots.
Joining them on AHF’s float will be Sharon Raphael and Mina Meyer, a lesbian couple together 42 years and who were legally married in California in 2008. Raphael, a PhD and a retired college professor, and Meyer are two longtime Southern California advocates who have played key roles in both LGBT history as well as in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles. They served on the AIDS Hospice Committee and were involved in the creation of Chris Brownlie Hospice in Elysian Park, the first licensed AIDS hospice in California, the forerunner of today’s AIDS Healthcare Foundation. Sharon and Mina first met as four- and five-year-old neighbors and friends in Cleveland, Ohio. They reconnected by chance—or fate—decades later as adults in Southern California and have been together ‘Living the Dream’ ever since.
“We are very proud to represent AIDS Healthcare Foundation and historic achievements in the struggle for marriage equality. After 42 years together, we can look back on five years of marriage, and now with DOMA overturned by the Supreme Court, we and other legally married Gay couples are eligible for equal treatment from Social Security,” said Raphael and Meyer in a statement.
AHF’s Rose Parade History
Both AHF’s 2012 Rose Parade float—‘Our Champion’ a tribute to Elizabeth Taylor for her tireless advocacy and work in the fight against AIDS, and AHF’s 2013 entry—‘The Global Face of AIDS,’ a global salute to AIDS Healthcare Foundation patients and medical staff from around the world, were honored with the Tournament of Roses’ ‘Queens Trophy’ for best use of roses on a float. AHF’s inaugural entry in the historic New Year’s Day parade in 2012 honoring Taylor was also the first float in the Tournament’s history that focused on the topic of HIV/AIDS. Fiesta Floats of Irwindale is envisioning and constructing AHF’s 2014 ‘Love is the Best Protection’ parade entry, as it did for AHF’s previous two entries.
“Today, as wedding bells ring for more and more gay and lesbian Americans like Aubrey & Danny and Mina & Sharon, AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade float is proud to honor and celebrate those ‘Living the Dream,’ confident in the knowledge that love is indeed the best protection,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation.