On Wednesday, April 15, 2009, I attended a private kick-off celebration for the new Miami Beach Pride taking place this weekend. (Many years have passed since Miami Beach had a "Gay Pride", and this year's celebration will include a first-ever parade.)
Featured was a poolside art exhibit preview of the 2009 Collection of paintings by local artist Noel whose work evokes Tamara de Lempicka and perfectly reflects the art deco élan of Miami Beach.
In addition to meeting some of the most powerful, beautiful and friendly gay and lesbian business folks of Miami Beach, I was impressed by the activist mayor of Miami Beach, Matti Herrera Bower, who is their first Hispanic and first woman mayor. The community certainly seems to love her, and it is refreshing to see an elected official at home with and supportive of her gay constituents.
I had a chance to speak with Steven Adkins, Executive Director of the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce:
Bilerico: What was the thinking behind creating Miami Beach Pride? Also, is it expected that this will be the week for it in 2010? I heard from someone that it would be slated for October in 2010.
Steve: While the date for Pride 2010 has not been set as of yet it will be set at the next meeting. The thinking behind Pride came from the Mayor's Business Development Committee in its attempt to follow its mission of bringing our community together and we felt that celebrating our diversity and being Proud of was a great catalyst in bringing the community together.
Bilerico: I heard from someone that Miami Beach Pride was the mayor's idea. Is this true? Anything you would like to say about the elected leadership of Miami Beach and its relationship to the local LGBT community? This seems to be a real love fest between the two. Other towns should be envious. What is the key to the good relationship?
Steve: One of the first tasks that the Mayor undertook was the creation of the Mayor's Gay Business Development Committee and it was through the assistance of her Chief of Staff, the late AC Weinstein that the committee was formed. In fact, this Pride is dedicated to AC as he was instrumental in creating Pride. The Mayor and the Commission have been nothing but supportive of our community and we owe them a debt of gratitude. The working relationship between the Committee and the Mayor and the Commission has been extremely good and productive.
Bilerico: ) How has business on the beach been this season? Got a message for gay tourists looking to travel in the next few months?
Steve: Though, overall hotel occupancy rates (and room rates) are down across the country and, South Florida in particular, attendance at our Gay Themed events have broken records (both numerically and financially). All indications are that LGBT travelers continue to travel in large numbers to Miami and Miami Beach and, with hotels aggressively discounting room rates into the summer, bargains abound. With the upcoming Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival (April), Aqua Girl (May), Miami Sizzle (May), Gay Days (June), and Miami Beach Bruthaz (July) there is plenty for the LGBT travelers to enjoy.
The latest news on the horizon is, the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce plans to relocate offices to the old City Hall Building on Miami Beach and open a LGBT Visitor Center (est. opening 4th quarter '09) in the ground floor office space.
Here are some photos of the evening:
A big Thank You to Steve and the Chamber for extending an invitation to Bilerico!