Atlanta Pride announces honorary parade 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.” Atlanta Pride Executive Director Buck Cooke said via a media release. “These individuals live lives of courage, compassion, activism, and visibility, even if those things are done just by going about their daily business.”

Read more about this year’s honorary grand marshals below as provided by the Atlanta Pride Committee:

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 Jan. 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.”

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 Jan. 12, 2011.

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.

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.

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 theater awards. 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 writing, 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. The movie became a cult phenomenon and became the longest running film in the history of Palm Springs with a record 96 weeks.

His play “Southern Baptist Sissies” followed, and it enjoyed a 10-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.

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.

Shores wrote, directed and produced the film version of his play “The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife” in Atlanta 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 for her role as Minnie in “The Help”); Dale Dickey (Spirit Award Winner, Best Supporting Actress in “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 theaters 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. He launched his third national tour in 2012 with “Del Shores: Naked.Sordid.Reality.”

Shores latest project was filming his play “Southern Baptist Sissies” earlier this year. 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.

Lupe Valdez

Lupe Valdez, who is openly gay, was elected Sheriff of Dallas County, Texas, on Nov. 4, 2004. She took the rank of the highest-ranking law enforcement officer in the County of Dallas on Jan. 1, 2005. Sheriff Valdez is one of a few female sheriffs in the State of Texas and she is the only Latina Sheriff in the nation. Sheriff Valdez has been in law enforcement for more than 30 years at both federal and state levels. On November 6, 2012, she was re-elected to serve another four years.

Prior to becoming sheriff, Valdez 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.

While sheriff, she has worked diligently to address deep structural problems that developed over the preceding 20 years in the jail, including it being understaffed, overpopulated and medically deprived inmates living in conditions that were unsanitary.

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.