Activist Calls Out Gay8 Festival for Omission of Bisexual Flag  

Gay8 Festival. Photo Via Luigi Ferrer, Facebook

The flags were hanging over the street in Miami celebrating the various communities within the LGBT spectrum during this year’s Gay8 Festival. There was one for the trans community, one for the bears, one for the leather community and of course the traditional Pride flag. 

But absent was the bisexual flag, which caused a stir on Facebook after a prominent local bisexual activist called the festival out for leaving his community out of the lineup.  

“Inadvertent omission or biphobia?” Luigi Ferrer asked on Facebook.  

Damian Pardo, a co-organizer of the festival, pushed back against any suggestion of biphobia though. 

“You have known me for 30 years. Stop it. There is no bi-phobia here. We contract out the decorations and we requested all flags be represented — clearly it was an omission,” Pardo said. “It’s really important to have a kind approach when striving to build bridges within diverse communities. The bi-flag looks beautiful and I’m sure we will take extra measures to include it next year.”

He later added: “We are not paid to do this work. We are largely volunteers.” 

Ferrer said to SFGN it was a “missed opportunity.” 

“Especially at an event like Gay8. We know bisexuality is more prevalent in the Latino community,” he said. 

Gay8 is a Hispanic/Latino LGBTQ art, music, dance, food and cultural street festival in Miami. This year’s festival took place Feb. 13-18. 

Here’s what the Bisexual Resource Center’s website says about bi visibility:

“Bisexuals experience high rates of being ignored, discriminated against, demonized, or rendered invisible by both the heterosexual world and the lesbian and gay communities. Often, the entire sexual orientation is branded as invalid, immoral, or irrelevant. Despite years of activism and the largest population within the LGBT community, the needs of bisexuals still go unaddressed and their very existence is still called into question. This erasure has serious consequences on bisexuals’ health, economic well-being, and funding for bi organizations and programs.”

Ferrer serves on the board of BiNet USA, a national organization that promotes bisexual visibility. 

Ferrer told SFGN that 52 percent of the LGBT community identify as bisexual so it’s important to include them in the discussion and bring them to the table. 

“I don’t know of any LGBT service providers down here [that] have any specific programs for the bi community. And we should ask ourselves why,” he said. “We’re LGBT [in] name only. Oftentimes the few people that come out as bi get ignored or are barely tolerated. I do HIV testing. I know there are bi people out there.”

Ferrer admitted the Facebook discussion got too heated. 

“I don’t want to blame the organizers of Gay8. I know they’re just trying to do their best,” he said. “It’s just disappointing after all of these years.” 

Ferrer also notes that there is no longer an active bi community in South Florida. 

Other commenters on Facebook also chided the festival for its oversight. 

“Biphobia and bi erasure are known issues in our community! Telling a bi activist to ‘stop it’ is further erasure, and saying the bi flag is ‘beautiful’ just seems patronizing. This isn't about pretty colors on material. Wow,” commented Landon J. Woolston. While Judah Fajardo added, “Friend or not, I don’t think this response was handled as well as it could have been. Two rainbow flags, and two more gay-pride ones were included, that’s four. And not one bi flag. I feel as though there was a lot of time to look over the decorations and see if you had all bases covered. Furthermore, it feels like you’re throwing it in our faces that it was volunteers, as if that should make it all completely okay. Maybe I’m off base here […] but these comments felt aggressive.”

Another co-organizer of the Gay8 festival Joe Cardona apologized for the mishap. 

“I want to begin by apologizing to you and everyone in the bi community for the omission. I can assure you no one associated with our festival is bi-phobic,” Cardona said. “We include and love everyone. That is precisely what our festival is about—inclusion and love. Thank you for bringing this to our will be rectified. We apologize to anyone this may have hurt or felt excluded in any way—it was not our intention.”