In the midst of a polarizing disagreement around the colors of the Pride flag, several members of Miami-Dade’s LGBTQ Advisory Board may be showing their true colors.
Whether their recent actions stem from deep-seated disdain for one another, or from frustration over this particular issue, some seem to have lost sight of the urgency of our collective work.
As both a trans person and a social worker, someone who has been personally and professionally exposed to the brokenness of our local systems, I am frustrated by the extraordinary amount of energy, time, and county resources that have been expended on this issue — especially after learning that it’s still up in the air whether or not a Pride flag will fly at all in Miami-Dade during Pride month.
It seems a better use of the boards’ energy to make sure that a flag actually flies, than to continue to engage in spiteful squabbling with one another over which one (while dragging a bunch of community members into it, too).
With so much active harm being done all across the city to queer Black and Brown people, and trans/non-binary people, spending this much time working to create the appearance of inclusion in Miami during Pride month, rather than working on the real issues affecting local LGBTQ+ communities year-round, is abhorrent.
Most of us out here don’t have that kind of time. Our friends and family are still dying.
While I know there are varying opinions and feelings about these flags among us all, what I also know for sure is that we won’t fix our long-standing history of racism and transphobia in this country or city by flying any given flag for 30 days. Even with this newly created one, I’m not sure that I can personally say “it’s a start.”
Diversity, equity, and inclusion cannot be achieved without diverse, equitable, and inclusive processes. Out of 15 seats on Miami-Dade’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, only one is filled by a Black person, and one is filled by a trans person — as such, they were the only ones from these communities who had the opportunity to formally weigh in on this agenda item.
After the item was voted upon and passed, and conflict erupted on the other side, I and others were asked by board members to speak publicly on this issue at the March meeting (that was ultimately canceled the night before due to a “lack of quorum”).
Asking impacted people in the broader community to weigh in on something only after it has gotten hot and messy is not equitable — it’s tokenizing.
Instead of continuing to labor over the flag, I’d love to see board members directly and openly address community feedback around the lack of genuine diversity and representation on this board; having a more representative board would likely have prevented this rift in the first place.
I’d love to see them directly and openly address the game of musical chairs that is playing out on the board — where board members who lost their seats when their commissioner lost the election managed to stay on for another term (by being reappointed to other open seats). If this board is truly committed to creating an inclusive Miami, they must be willing to make space for new and more diverse voices, and to challenge board members who are gatekeeping. Silently co-signing various inequities on the board, while paying lip service to “progress” in the form of a flag, is hypocrisy.
How about we focus our collective energies on Black and Brown trans femmes being routinely murdered in Miami? Or on the local media taking 10 days to say something about it?
-The systemic and interpersonal violence that T(LGBQ+) sex workers face daily in Miami;
-The horrible mistreatment of queer and trans people who are incarcerated locally, and the over-representation of BIPOC LGBTQ+ folks behind bars;
-Trans/non-binary people still being forced to undergo conversion therapy in Miami-Dade;
-The continued erasure of local queer and trans Indigenous people and cultures;
-The disproportionate impacts of COVID-19, and the associated economic crisis, on BIPOC queer/trans people;
-The barriers to care that trans and non-binary folks are still facing locally right-darn-now;
-Local organizations and institutions that are corrupt and/or limp, that only pretend to serve us, rather than actually doing so;
-Trans and non-binary youth who are isolated in their homes, who haven’t heard their chosen name or an affirming gender pronoun uttered since last March;
-The lack of safety and inclusion experienced by local queer and trans-AAPI people (an issue long before COVID-19 began); or
-The rising rates of suicide among local queer and trans people at large.
The list could go on and on. There are so many issues we need to be tackling.
It is disheartening that this board has the collective time, privilege, and luxury to be this worried about the way the house is decorated outside, while it is literally on FIRE inside.
Is there not an easily accessible win/win with the flag debate? Can we not fly both flags and move on to other pressing issues (or retire and commemorate the Baker flag and fly the new one, as Miami Beach has done)? I personally am not prepared to trample on the work and feelings of my queer/trans elders, whose shoulders I am clear that I stand upon, in favor of own my feelings or that of anyone else’s — especially not with the false notion of “progress” that this flag would represent.
We have a lot of queer and trans-related work to do in Miami, and to me, this isn’t it.