LGBTQ

The Ten Most Memorable Moments in Miami's Gay History

In most cities, gay pride parades have a long history tied to decades of activism and celebration. In Miami, locals have been marching on Ocean Drive only since 2009. Although the procession is a recently adopted South Florida tradition, the gay community has always been an active part of the cultural melting pot. From 1977's Save Our Children campaign to today's weekly Sunday drag brunches, the LGBT community has come a long way, so there's plenty to celebrate. 

Spring ushers in not only a change in the weather but also the Miami Beach Gay Pride Festival and annual parade, returning for the eighth year. Last year's festivities attracted more than 100,000 attendees over three days, and nothing less is expected this year. Grand marshal is radio host and DJ Elvis Duran. 

In anticipation of the fest this weekend, New Times presents the ten most memorable moments in Miami's gay history:

10. Club Baths Opens (1974)

John W. Campbell opened the Miami branch of the Club Baths more than 40 years ago. The gay bathhouse was a place where men could enjoy typical spa amenities such as saunas and steambaths. Campbell was an active member of the Mattachine Society, an early gay activist movement during the repressive 1950s and early '60s. He started the first Club Baths in 1965 by purchasing and remodeling a Finnish bathhouse in Cleveland, Ohio. The success quickly spawned other locations, and though they all shuttered in the early '90s, plenty of modern-day bathhouses claim Club Baths heritage. 

9. A Place to Congregate (1970)

Christ Metropolitan Church was founded as a congregation for gay and lesbian Christians in Miami.  
8. Miami's First Gay Pride Parade (2009)
Miami Beach's first Gay Pride Parade, established by Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower in collaboration with the Miami Beach Gay Business Development Council, drew an estimated 15,000 spectators. Now it attracts out crowds greater than 130,000. 


7. The Purple Pamphlet (1964)
 
A Florida legislative committee led by Sen. Charley Johns published the pamphlet "Homosexuality and Citizenship," also known as the "Purple Pamphlet." The document attempted to portray gays and lesbians as disease carriers worse than child molesters. It was part of a larger effort to identify closeted queer folks in schools, universities, and government jobs. Luckily, the local reaction to Johns' letter was swift. Dade County officials threatened legal action against the Florida attorney general's forced distribution of the Purple Pamphlet.
6. Democratic National Convention (1972) 
The Democratic and Republican national conventions were both held in Miami in 1972. The DNC featured the first public speech concerning gay rights by openly gay San Francisco activist Jim Foster. The RNC, on the other hand, was met with extensive antiwar protests, women's marches, and shows of solidarity from the gay-rights movement.
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Neil Vazquez is an arts and entertainment writer who works at the intersection of highbrow and lowbrow A Miami native and Northwestern University graduate, he usually can be found sipping overpriced coffee, walking his golden retriever, or doing yoga.
Contact: Neil Vazquez