'I found myself' at Compass Community Center, trans woman says

WPTV proud sponsor of Palm Beach Pride Parade and Festival, hosted by Compass
Posted at 9:46 PM, Mar 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-21 21:46:47-04

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — The Palm Beach Pride Parade and Festival is back after a three-year pandemic hiatus. This weekend's festivities are hosted 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 the Compass Community Center. "It's saying, 'I'm here. I demand to be seen and I demand for you to understand that I exist.'"

For 37 years, Riordan hid who she truly was.

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

It all ended when she found her home at Compass.

"I found a place that accepts me," said Riordan. "But, more importantly, I found myself. I'm a proud trans woman."

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

"Without somewhere like this, I don't know where I would be today," said Riordan.

Riordan is not alone.

Michael Riordan says Compass Community Center allows her to be herself
Michael Riordan says she found herself thanks to the Compass Community Center.

"At the end of the day, all of us are looking for a place to feel accepted and be ourselves," said Amanda Canete, youth and family services director for the Compass Community Center. "It's a place that we hopefully can give people the support that they need, the community that they need, and make them feel that they are 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 just be yourself," said Riordan.

The festival is happening amid the LGBTQ+ bills passing through the state.

"We're not going to just stand by and let these things happen to people (who) are in our communities," said Canete.

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