Diego Vega O’Brien is a motion graphic designer who lives in the Greater Fort Lauderdale area. On top of that, he’s recently become an FAA-certified pilot. Since moving to the city in early 2019 from Peru, he’s become an important figure in Fort Lauderdale’s inclusivity initiatives. As a disabled person, Diego knows the importance of being included and having accessibility for all.
This led him to work with the city on many of its LGBTQ programs. As a straight ally to the community, Diego thinks it’s important for everyone to work together to make the Fort Lauderdale area the best it can be. Passport sat down with Diego to chat about his favorite things to do in Fort Lauderdale.
What do you like to do during the weekend in Fort Lauderdale?
Fort Lauderdale has a lot of really great spas, so that’s definitely something I love to do when I need to relax. I also love the Museum of Discovery and Science, which is loaded with tons of funs things to do. It has lots of animals, dinosaurs, and interactive science experiments. To get outside, I love the Hugh Taylor Birch State Park. It directly next to the coast, so you can enjoy the seaside, or hike the inland trails. You can even rent kayaks and paddleboards. It’s a great way to see some wildlife even though you’re in the middle of the city. And of course, I love going to the beach. We have so many wonderful beaches in the city!
Another thing I love to do is just drive up and down the coast. I really enjoy being able to see the ocean and the crashing waves. It kind of reminds me of my home city. Where I’m from in Peru was close to the ocean, and I used to love driving up and down the coast, so it’s wonderful to be able to do the same thing here.
What are some of your favorite places to eat and drink?
One of my favorite places to go is Kousine. The chef is from my home country of Peru, and the meals there are so delicious and authentic. They even serve Peruvian breakfast foods, which I’d recommend everyone try. There’s another really cool Peruvian place called SuViche. They serve both ceviche and sushi! It’s a combination that actually goes really well together. To combine the two in one meal, you can even order sushi rolls that are made with ceviche. For drinks, The Wharf is a wonderful spot. At The Wharf, there’s always something going on, with lots of rotating events happening all the time. In my opinion, they also make the best drinks in the city.
What makes the people of Fort Lauderdale so special?
Everyone is so friendly. It’s the kind of place where you feel like you can talk with anyone and meet new friends. I love that about the city, the fact that everyone seems to be so happy and welcoming.
You were featured in Fort Lauderdale’s “Celebrate You” campaign because you’re an outspoken ally to the LGBTQ community. What made you want to partake in the campaign?
I’m disabled, so I know the importance of diversity and inclusion. When you’re part of a minority group, not just race and sexuality, but disabled people too, you really see how a group of people can often feel not included due to certain barriers. So it was important for me to represent my community and show that I’m proud of everything I’ve accomplished.
What do you think of Fort Lauderdale’s inclusivity efforts for the disabled community?
My experience has been that it’s very good. I feel very comfortable here thanks to that. It’s a big difference from Peru, where it’s much more difficult to find accessibility initiatives. I’m also happy that I’m able to be a part of the movement, helping to make Fort Lauderdale a more inclusive place.