Gay8 Civic Engagement

Gay8 Festival
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By: Ian Maloney

Since its founding in 2014, the Gay8 festival (pronounced Gay Ocho) has become a quintessential event in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. The festival was originally conceived by local friends Damian Pardo and Joe Cardona who were having coffee in Little Havana when they started wondering how they could bring the LGBTQ and straight communities together while showcasing the music, food, art and culture that make Calle Ocho unique. From that rather simple idea over a cafecito, a wonderful tradition was born. Now, more than 3 years later the idea of Gay8 has blossomed into 4ward Miami, a non-profit that is bringing much more than just another festival to the Sunshine State.

Over the past 3 years, the Gay8 festival has grown by leaps and bounds. They have partnered with many organizations to take the street festival to the next level. They have added an LGBTQ film festival at the Miami Dade College’s famous Tower Theatre, they have partnered with The Stonewall National Museum and Archives as well as the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora to provide historical context and connection to both the LGBTQ community and the Cuban Community, they added neighborhood tours, and much more. Most importantly, the positive growth has spurred the creation of 4ward Miami, a non-profit that was formed to promote LGBTQ diversity & inclusivity, economic status and civil rights.

While the vast majority of the expected 60,000+ Gay8 attendees will take part in the street festival, which shuts down Calle Ocho, this year, 4ward Miami has planned several civic engagement opportunities by sponsoring an advocacy day that will provide training on the climate in conjunction with Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and they have developed a two-day human rights symposium held in conjunction with the University of Miami and The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights. The best part about all of the events that will make up the weekend is that they are all Free!

4WARD Miami Gay8 Festival Weekend Civic Engagement & Advocacy Day: "Climate Literacy and LGBTQI Communities Training with Guided Tour of Vizcaya Gardens"
Saturday, February 16, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
3250 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33129

In conjunction with The Cleo Institute and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, enjoy a complementary breakfast and take part in the training, "Climate Change 101: The Science, the Urgency and the Solutions to the Climate Crisis that is Impacting the Americas" The breakfast and training will be followed by a complimentary guided walking tour of the Vizcaya Gardens.

4WARD Americas: LGBTQI Human Rights Symposium
Sunday, February 17 and Monday, February 18
University of Miami, Newman Alumni Center
6200 San Amaro Drive, Miami, Florida 33146

4ward Miami and ImpactOUT International Initiative present their first LGBTQ Human Rights Symposium in conjunction with The Institute on Race, Equality, and Human Rights as well as the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA). The symposium was created to promote shared learning about the regions across the Americas, identify the present states of reality in LGBTQ communities across the Americas, promote cross-national collaboration in the Americas and stimulate innovation and improvisation. Speakers, presenters, and moderators from around the world will be on hand for small group workshops, large format keynote addresses, as well as panels that will address human rights issues from an LGBTQ perspective. Highlights will surely include the address by Fabrice Houdout a Human Rights Officer from the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Joining Houdout will be John Tanzella, CEO of IGLTA.