An iconic Key West drag queen, famous for ringing in the New Year by “dropping” in a gigantic red women’s high heel, was married late Dec. 31 during one of 2015’s last same-sex weddings, the year of national marriage equality.
Dressed in a lavish silver-and-white gown Gary Marion, better known as Sushi, married longtime partner Jeff Kucin. As a flower girl threw silver rose petals, thousands of New Year’s Eve revelers cheered the union.
Minutes later, Sushi was hoisted in the red shoe high above Key West’s Duval Street outside the Bourbon St. Pub Complex. Just before midnight, she was lowered back to the ground and popped the cork off a champagne bottle to toast the dawn of 2016.
“I can’t believe this was one of the last same-sex marriages of 2015, and I was honored to do it in the shoe,” Marion said. “And I’m so happy that we have the right to do this—especially for drag queens.”
Marion said that he and Kucin had contemplated getting married earlier.
“My husband asked me to get married about five years ago, but I told him I would not go to any other state until it was legal all over America,” he said. “So I waited.”
The Red Shoe Drop was one of Key West’s multiple subtropical takeoffs on the traditional “ball drop” in New York City’s Times Square.
A few blocks away, crowds celebrated while watching a huge man-made conch shell, the symbol of the Florida Keys, descend to the roof of Sloppy Joe’s Bar. In Key West’s Historic Seaport, a pirate wench was lowered from the top of a tall ship’s mast at the stroke of midnight outside the Schooner Wharf Bar. And a celebration at the Ocean Key Resort featured a gargantuan replica of a Key lime wedge “splashing down” into a larger-than-life margarita glass.
New Year’s Eve revelry elsewhere in the Florida Keys included waterfront fireworks displays and parties in Key Largo and Islamorada as 2016 arrived.