Miami Beach Pride
by Bryan Santos
Pridelines came through henny! Each year in collaboration with Miami Beach Pride, Pridelines creates a safe and affirming space for youth attending the festival. Pride being one of the largest events hosted at South Beach is so much more than a parade, colorful fashions, and parties. It’s a time to share in the progress that our community has made together and celebrate the achievements those before us have gifted us. It’s about increasing our visibility and letting the community know we are here and we aren’t going anywhere. Above all, it’s about supporting each other and allowing for a space where even those questioning their sexuality or identity have a platform to feel like part of the community. Pridelines has been creating safe and affirming spaces for almost 40 years, so naturally, Miami Beach Pride had a place for us. By no means is our work done but at the very least Pridelines strives to bridge the gaps and support youth so they can carry the torch moving forward.
On the first day, Pridelines participated in a Discussion to learn from various stakeholders and change-makers in the South Florida LGBTQ+ community. The five panels presented to the general public for free, they engaged and served a wide range of constituents of all ages and include Racial Inequality & Equity, Non-Binary & Gender Issues, Wellness & Mental Health, and more! It featured noted speakers and tabling engagement with members of the public from Pridelines, Survivors Pathway, the Yes Institute, and Our Rainbow Nest. It all began at 6:00 pm on the 8th floor of Soho Miami Beach House with an amazing view of the Miami skyline. The topics covered were so well received the conversation went way beyond the expected time and into the tabling session.
On both days at this year’s event, we organized a large tent to host youth 20 and under. We created a space that helped facilitate the pride vibe in a younger environment. We had mocktails (non-alcoholic beverages), party games, mask decoration, a graffiti wall, an art center, music, drag performances, raffle activities, and food all in a safe and affirming space. It’s so important to have these spaces set to make sure that youth have a place to express themselves among peers to form communal bonds. We wanted to make sure youth had a place to cool off in the shade from the South Florida heat while getting hydrated and fed. Food was catered by Coyo Taco on both days as they provided us quesadillas with chicken or cheese options. Drinks and light snacks were provided by Miami Beach Pride. Pridelines staff and volunteers helped to facilitate the event and organize all the programming and support available to the community free of charge.
Over the two days, Pridelines helped connect youth with gay culture by facilitating a drag performance and gay-themed trivia. Pridelines was able to represent artists that identified as queer people of color to increase diversity and representation within our space. We presented Kimberly Venom for a knock-out drag performance and she was backed by DJ Queen Bean. Participants were able to win prizes throughout the day to keep the excitement rolling as they learned more about pride and what Pridelines offers. Through our efforts, we were able to connect several new youths to our on-site programming and support groups. One of the most important things about having a presence at pride is that visibility and accessibility to those who would not have otherwise utilized or been connected with our services. Many of the party games were a hit and created moments for youth to connect with their peers and have a good time.
We are so grateful for the opportunity to connect with youth and as we served over 108 youth and linked over 20 of them to additional programming, support, and our volunteer programs. That was an amazing opportunity with nearly 20 percent follow-up engagement. We surpassed our expectations and were thrilled with how receptive youth were to us and always learning new ways to help facilitate youth-centered programming. The feedback they shared with us was appreciated and will help inform the way we organize future events.