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In honor of Pride Month, here are five facts about Miami’s LGBTQ+ history worth knowing:
📜 Miami had a gay nightlife scene as early as the 1930s. However, that era was not long-lived. Raids would shut down these establishments on a near-nightly basis, but they kept popping right back up again.
➡️ In 1964, a Florida legislative committee published “Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida,” also known as the Purple Pamphlet, as part of a witch hunt to seek out gays and bisexuals working in schools, universities, and government jobs, who they believed were determined to “subvert the American way of life by controlling academic institutions and by corrupting the nation’s moral fiber,” according to the book Carryin’ on in the Lesbian and Gay South. The backlash was swift, with Dade County officials threatening legal action and the Florida Attorney General demanding that distribution of the Purple Pamphlet cease immediately.
📢 “The first organized gay pride week was celebrated in Miami Beach in early 1972 with a march on Lincoln Road protesting a city law banning cross-dressing. Two weeks later, the law was struck down by a federal court. In August of that year, hundreds of gays and lesbians joined thousands of protestors at the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach,” according to The Encyclopedia of Lesbian and Gay Histories and Cultures.
✨ The LGBTQ+ community was instrumental in transforming Miami Beach from a town known as “a sunny place for shady people” and retirees into the glittering gem of all things fabulous it eventually became. “Everything was pastel and glitter,” Shelley Novak — one of the grandmothers and foremost figures of Miami Beach drag — told World Red Eye. “You were tripping over gays. There was a smaller group of lesbians, too.”
✈️ Miami currently attracts more than 1 million LGBTQ+ visitors a year and has had its own chamber of commerce dedicated to the community since 1997.
✅ This is just a sneak peek of a few moments in Miami’s LGBTQ+ history — read the full history in our archives by freelance writer Mandy Baca.