By: Gino Campodonico
Miami and the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) are longtime supporters of the local and visiting LGBTQ communities. Showing steady growth over time, Miami has transformed into the world-class, gay-friendly destination that it is today.
“Miami, and especially Miami Beach, have long been recognized by the international LGBTQ community as a welcoming and inclusive destination to live, work and play,” says Richard Murry, founder and president of The Murry Agency, a Miami Beach-based public relations firm with a niche specialty in the LGBTQ market. “For residents and businesses in Miami, we’ve proactively established human rights ordinances, domestic partnership registries and inclusive vendor hiring policies.”
Most recently, Florida became the 36th state to recognize same-sex marriage, with Miami leading the pack and becoming the first city in the Sunshine State to end the discriminatory ban. And with a current estimate of a quarter million LGBT residents – a number most likely on the rise due to continual progress with equal rights – Miami continues to cement itself as “America’s Gay Riviera.”
For tourists, Miami area leaders have courted – and have appreciated – the power of the “pink traveling dollar,” with the GMCVB’s George Neary leading the charge. As the GMCVB’s Cultural Tourism Director for outreach to the gay community, Neary led the first LGBTQ press trip back in 1997 — before other destinations had even heard of the gay market.
“By carving out a significant budget for advertising and PR targeting the gay market, the GMCVB has led the way,” adds Murry. “Other cities are now catching on, but the cities of Miami and Miami Beach have long been pioneers in recognizing the importance of the LGBTQ community.”
Miami’s LGBTQ residents and their allies have, and continue to, benefit from supporting longstanding local equality seeking institutions such as Save Dade and the National LGBTQ Task Force.
While Pridelines Youth Services caters to supporting, educating and empowering Miami’s LGBTQ youth in a safe and diverse environment, South Florida’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service organization, Care Resource has provided HIV/AIDS research, prevention, care and treatment services to individuals in Miami for more than 30 years.
In efforts to further enhance the visitor’s experience in the Magic City, the GMCVB works closely with the LGBT Visitor Center in South Beach. Opened in 2010, the center is the only one of it’s kind in the country. It’s operated and funded by the MDGLCC Foundation, Inc., the non-profit arm of the Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (MDGLCC).
Designed to specifically meet an LGBTQ traveler’s needs, the visitor center is a one-stop destination for information, publications and weekly community events. The MDGLCC, the largest not-for-profit corporation in the county for gay and lesbian businesses, offers a unique Pink Flamingo Certification for businesses that guarantee a welcoming space for LGBTQ travelers.
And what could be more Miami than a giant celebration? Held each April, Miami Beach Gay Pride is an annual, extraordinary two-day festival beloved by the local community and visitors alike. The event features a “Beach Party” and “Festival & Parade” with more than 125 LGBT-friendly vendors and businesses, celebrities, performances, food, beverages and a family-friendly play area. Miami Beach Gay Pride has grown into the largest, two-day event of the year in Miami Beach since its inception in 2009.
As Miami continues to morph into one of the most sought-after vacation spots in the world, the LGBTQ community is always welcome to come stay, dine and play in the Magic City.
Insider Tip: A resource for inspiration, check out GoGayMiami.com, a website featuring a great community calendar listing all events happening in the area.
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