A New Miami
Miami’s great gay history has many layers – from the Art Deco architecture revolution in the 1920s and 1930s to today’s nifty downtown developments: Brickell City Center with rooftop bars, restaurants, and shopping malls; and the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami-Dade County with three state-of-the-art theaters.
In this metropolis with diverse and constantly changing cultures, the visibility of LGBT people has helped shape the city’s image. When organizers canceled the long-planned 10-day LGBT sports event World OutGames at the last minute in 2017, the local community banded together to save the event, rejuvenating the city’s morale and strengthening its bonds.
Above: Courtesy of Diamond PR
A similar feeling was palpable when Hurricane Irma fell on the “magical city”. Even with some destruction, the residents had no doubt that they would rebuild. And yet they didn’t have to. Irma had minimal impact on Miami and its beautiful sandy beaches.
The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau launched a #MiamiNow promotion after the hurricane, giving travelers unprecedented discounts. While most offers expired in late 2017, you can find updated offers at MiamiAndBeaches.com.
I particularly like the “beach chic” that Shelborne South Beach exudes with its own garden beach. It also offers a killer breakfast buffet and an in-house cabaret show with stars in the making. Don’t miss a drink called Bramble Bush (with berries and gin) during the show. You will love it! (TheCabaretSouthBeach.com) If beach hotels aren’t your thing, the new downtown SLS Brickell Hotel (SLSHotels.com/Brickell) has the luxury treatment – with an impressive rooftop pool and separate restaurants from award-winning chefs José Andrés and Michael Schwartz, and the developing nightlife is within walking distance. For the month of July, the SLS Brickell Hotel is offering a “Same Sex and the City” special for gay couples: a free bottle of champagne, $ 50 credit and a couples massage. Talk about hospitality.
If you want to see South Beach’s most epic drag shows, you must pay homage to the famous gay hangout, the Palace (PalaceSouthBeach.com), which now has a new home at the Amarillo Restaurant on Ocean Drive. It’s worth a visit to just watch the faces of shocked taxi drivers while beautiful drag stars strut their things on the zebra crossing.
To get a feel for the different cultures in Miami, visit the Española Way / Washington Avenue shopping district and enjoy a hot meal at Mare Mio with fresh fish caught by local restaurateur Claudio Giordano’s famous fisherman. For a brisk stroll, don’t miss the incredible artistry that distinguishes the Wynwood Arts District with the only Ryan “The Wheelbarrow” Ferrell, a local screen-printing performance artist who also offers the epitome of Miami street art (Miami’sBestGraffitiGuide. com).
If you can get away from the city, you will find it incredibly easy to go to the Bahamas for a day (Bahamas.com). Bimini, the Bahamian island closest to the United States, attracts beach bums, water adventurers, high rollers and spa-goers alike for an easy tropical escape and the clearest blue water imaginable. My favorite is the adults-only infinity pool and the Monkey Business Bar at Resorts World Bimini (RWBimini.com).
Back in Miami, Little Havana is a must. The area, where many Cuban exiles live, is bustling with street life and constant music. Eat a Cuban sandwich at Enriqueta, then enjoy the best ice cream of your life at Azucas Ice Cream Company. Check out the new Sterling Market on Miami Beach’s iconic Lincoln Road this summer (LincolnRoadMall.com). It will be home to several vendors, including LGBT Mr. Bing who specializes in shaved ice. Also make a stop at the meat market to try the Nutella dessert – it’s out of this world!
A guide to Miami’s legendary LGBT parties
February 28th – March 6th: Winter party festivalMore than 10,000 partygoers from all over the world meet here for an action-packed six-day party with celebrity DJ performances, sophisticated cocktail receptions and the hottest hotel pool parties in the world.
April: OUTshine Film FestivalEvery spring, a large portion of Miami’s lively art and culture scene took place here at this exclusive film festival. Miami Beach gay pride: Show your support for Miami’s colorful LGBT community at the annual Gay Pride Festival held every spring. Join tens of thousands of community members, citizens, business owners, and supporters in a big and bold celebration on South Beach’s infamous Ocean Drive.
Can: Aqua girlThis week-long festival, the largest charity week for women in the country, brings together les-bi-queer girls (and their bikinis) from across the country. Meanwhile, Sizzle MiamiThe five-day festival, attended by mostly black men, brings in the boys.
July: In the Tropics LGBTQ Performing Arts Series: Artists from around the world take the stage at South Florida’s first ever LGBT festival for contemporary performing arts (@outintropics). Miami Beach Bruthaz Conference: MBB is a blockbuster lifestyle event that takes place every summer. It’s a weekend that revolves around three themes: knowledge, culture and fashion. Events include a white masquerade party, hip hop jam, a rooftop soiree, a signature Bruthaz SpeakUP event, fashion shows, and one of the hottest Brazilian beach parties (@MiamiBeachBruthazEvent).
October: Celebrate the Orgullo Festival, a one-day festival showcasing LGBT Hispanic pride, featuring music, dancing, refreshments, stalls, and more.
November: White party weekAn unprecedented week of fundraising parties and events culminates in the legendary White Party. For over 25 years, more than 15,000 partygoers have been raising awareness of the fight against HIV and AIDS every year.
December: Art BaselHundreds of galleries show art from all over the world. Art Basel changed the art world in Miami with many queer films, fairs, pop-up exhibitions, performances and much more.