‘I found myself’ at Compass Community Center, says trans woman

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — The Palm Beach Pride Parade and Festival is back after a three-year pandemic hiatus. This weekend’s festivities are organized by the Compass Community Center.

For one Lake Worth Beach resident, the parade helped her find herself.

“Pride is an act of defiance,” said Michael Riordan, director of marketing at Compass Community Center. “He says, ‘I’m here. I demand to be seen and I demand that you understand that I exist. “”

For 37 years, Riordan hid who she really was.

“Oh, that was miserable,” Riordan said. “I mean, every day was worse than the day before it. I was angry and I was bitter. I became suicidal.”

It all ended when she found her home in Compass.

“I found a place that accepts me,” Riordan said. “But more importantly, I found myself. I’m a proud trans woman.”

The Compass Community Center became her place of support and her community.

“Without a place like this, I don’t know where I would be today,” Riordan said.

Riordan is not alone.

Briana Nestral/WPTV

Michael Riordan says she found herself through the Compass Community Center.

“At the end of the day, we’re all looking for a place to feel accepted and be ourselves,” said Amanda Canete, director of youth and family services at Compass Community Center. “It’s a place where we hope we can give people the support they need, the community they need, and make them feel like they’re not alone.”

This weekend Compass is hosting the 30th Annual Palm Beach Pride Parade and Festival.

“It’s an opportunity to be heard, but it’s also an opportunity to be yourself,” Riordan said.

The festival takes place amid LGBTQ+ bills crossing the state.

“We’re not just going to sit back and let these things happen to people (who) are in our communities,” Canete said.

WPTV is a proud sponsor of the Palm Beach Pride Parade and Festival. The festival takes place March 26 and 27 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Bryant Park. The parade takes place March 27 at 11 a.m. on Lake Avenue.

Jill E. Washington