SFGN’s “Speak OUT” is a weekly feature giving a regular voice to South Florida LGBT leaders.


What's an LGBT related story or issue you'd like to highlight this week?

I think now more than ever an issue that I'd like to highlight is the lack of intersectionality in our community. Queer and Trans people are monolingual in many languages, and represent a huge diversity of physical ability and can be found in every race, but most mainstream LGBTQ organizations and spaces aren't built for the people at the margins. 

Often times access is sacrificed for aesthetics and what we end up with always seems to forget the people that are most impacted. I'm excited by the recent organizing of folx like the Maven Leadership Collective in Miami and Trans Queer Pueblo in AZ, but I know there is still so much work left to do and I think it's high time that mainstream LGBTQ organizations in South Florida put some skin in the game and engaged in the difficult conversations that we must have as a community about Race, and Racism and the real implications of it in leadership, Economics and Power, Accessibility in Spaces, and accountability to the undocumented members of our community who are often times erased from the conversation.

We have a responsibility to our community now more than ever to be united, but we cannot achieve unity if we are willing to leave members of our community behind for the sake of "Progress" cloaked in respectability politics.

— Gabriel Garcia-Vera, Community Activist/ Organizer

The 9th annual Miami Beach Gay Pride parade took place this past Sunday along Ocean Drive which was a day for South Florida’s LGBTQ community and its allies to comes together to celebrate.  This year, to ensure a safe environment, many Miami Beach businesses also displayed rainbow stickers indicating they’re safe places for anyone experiencing harassment.  It was my pleasure to participate and ride in the parade with Former Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower who along with the Commission and others created Pride in 2009.

— Michael C. Gongora, former Vice Mayor of Miami Beach 

An excerpt from an article in the NYT:  “that the United States Court of Appeals, for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights act protects gay workers from job discrimination, expanding workplace protections in the landmark law to include sexual orientation. This raises the chances that the politically charged issue may ultimately be solved by the Supreme Court. While an appeal is not expected in this case, another appellate court in Georgia last month reached the opposite conclusion that the law does not prohibit discrimination in the workplace for gay employees….  While the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage, many other legal protections, including employment and housing, have not been extended federally to gay people…. In Tuesday’s decision, the judges ruled by an 8-to-3 vote that the civil rights law, which already prohibits discrimination on a variety of factors, also includes protections based on sexual orientation. They concluded that such discrimination was no different from a form of sex discrimination, which the law prohibits. Five of the eight judges in the majority were appointed by Republican Presidents.”

Q: Do you think this could have legs going forward to put ENDA out front and center?  

Q: Will this issue fair better in the courts than in the Congress?

Paul Smith, retired Army Lieutenant Colonel & retired Clinical Social Worker

I was recently telling an associate there are 2 groups of people that get shit done - veterans and lesbians/gays. Not to single out the other group, yet, as a community member I can't help but notice the determination and organization the groups have in carrying out missions. Maybe it is because of the underlying challenges or "we are all in this together attitude" that brings passion that nurtures the mission to completion. There is something special about us. We are world change. 

— Sonya Pressley, BLAST Assistant Organizer

Ray and I have an LGBT Historical Collection at the Stonewall National Museum. We've purchased a handwritten note from Tennessee Williams, on a Marriott note card, in which he talked about his lover's need for psychiatric help; a handwritten note from Bill Tilden, the most famous athlete in the first half of the 20th Century, from prison, where he was placed for allegedly touching a male hitchhiker; and a handwritten note from Maurice Sendak, with a drawing of his creature in "Where the Wild Things Are." They are all part of history, each with its own important story.

— Brian McNaught, noted columnist, author and LGBT activist

How about "Diversity in OUR Culture.” Have we really made progress in expressing diversity in LGBT culture? While I believe that, compared to when Ellen DeGeneres came out on her sitcom, we've made tremendous progress, there are still areas in film, television, and literature where there are still stigmas and stereotypes. Why, for example, are foreign film actors not afraid to play gay characters? If we are so progressive and open in this country, why does it still take someone like Barry Manilow so long to come out?

Tom Hantzarides, Host and producer of "GET OUT! South Florida,” an LGBT radio show

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