Gay and Lesbian Walking Tour of South Beach Starts This Month

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With the overturning of the gay adoption ban in Florida and Proposition H8 in California, the momentary repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy (for shame, Obama), and Pink's new music video, it's a great time to be gay. 

Celebrate your fabulousness by embarking on the new Gay and Lesbian Walking Tour of South Beach, a collaborative effort between the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, Miami Design Preservation League, and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. The tour visits key spots that mark the contributions that lesbians and gay men have made to Miami Beach over the years. Here's what Jack Johnson, Tour Manager for MDPL, had to say about the tour.

New Times: What are some of the key stops on the tour? 

Stops on the tour will include the Palace Bar (home of Sunday drag shows), Casa Casuarina (known as the Gianni Versace house), MDPL's Art Deco Welcome Center (MDPL was founded by a collaboration between Barbara Baer Capitman, a straight woman, and Leonard Horowitz, an openly gay man), the Breakwater Hotel where Bruce Weber shot a photograph that was used in a famous advertisement for Calvin Kein Obsession, and many more locations significant in the history of gay and lesbian people in Miami Beach. 

How much would you say that LGBT individuals have contributed to the Miami Beach we're familiar with now? 

LGBT men and women have made and continue to make significant contributions to the history of Miami Beach and its historic preservation movement. Leonard Horowitz, one of the co-founders of the Miami Design Preservation League, was an out gay man, and many of the supporters of the preservation movement in its early days were gay or lesbian. Gary Farmer, another openly gay man, opened the Strand Restaurant in 1986, a "mixed crowd" restaurant which became an important part of the revitalization of Miami Beach. 

Do you think that the contributions of LGBT people to Miami Beach have been underrepresented? 

I believe that the contributions of LGBT people to Miami Beach have not been generally understood by the general public and by gay and lesbian people. The increasing self-awareness of the gay and lesbian community has led to greater interest in the contributions we have made to society as a whole. This tour is an effort to raise awareness of those contributions as they relate specifically to Miami Beach. 

Would locals benefit from taking the tour? 

Understanding the contributions of LGBT men and women to the City of Miami Beach will lead to greater pride on the part of local gay and lesbian people and to greater appreciation among the general public.  

The Gay and Lesbian Tour of South Beach takes place every fourth Friday of the month (with the exception of December) at 6 p.m.  The first tour is November 19. The tour starts at the new LGBT Visitor Center in Historic City Hall (1130 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) and lasts approximately 90 minutes. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased at the LGBT Visitor Center or at MDPL's Art Deco Welcome Center (1001 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach). Visit gogaymiami.com, miamiandbeaches.com, or mdpl.org.

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