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Miami Beach Bruthaz Takes to the Seas

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Members of the Miami Beach Bruthaz in 2015. Photo by J.R. Davis.

In our fifth anniversary issue, SFGN highlighted our most clicked story to date, a feature about an upcoming Miami Beach Bruthaz (now called MBB) weekend, the annual gathering of gay men of color and their admirers founded by Tampa resident Ian Smith. Another three years later, that same story still remains one of our most read posts.

SFGN reached out to Smith, who was startled by the news, especially since his event hadn’t been held on Miami Beach since 2016, when it celebrated its 10th anniversary. 

“Wow, it is a surprise,” he responded when contacted by telephone. 

MBB began as an impromptu gathering of 30 friends and quickly grew into an international gathering, drawing hundreds of participants from the U.S., Australia, Europe and South America, but Smith always considered it a “boutique” event, unlike the circuit parties that draw tens of thousands of partiers. 

MBB’s schedule included social and cultural programming, as well as discussions about health and HIV-related issues in minority communities.

Smith cited shifts in the Miami Beach club scene and rising hotel rates for the decision to reimagine the event.

“So much on the beach has changed in 10 years. In 2006, it was a very different world,” he explained.

For 2018, MBB will take their celebration to the high seas on a Royal Caribbean cruise departing from the port of Tampa and including calls in Key West and Havana, Cuba. The cruise will sail on July 28 and return Aug. 1.

“We didn’t know what we wanted to do and our team kept thinking through ideas,” he said. “We hadn’t heard of a lot of gay groups going to Cuba, so there was something historical, new and exciting for us with the cruise.” 

While onboard, he plans conversations with participants about the future of MBB.

“We hope this is the beginning of an evolution,” Smith added.

Cabins are still available for MBB 2018: The Cuba Experience cruise, July 28 – Aug. 1, sailing from Tampa about Royal Caribbean’s Empress of the Seas. For more information, go to MBB2016.com.


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