Wynwood Pride Faces Backlash from Local LGBT Groups 

Wynwood Via Flickr, T.Tseng

Several prominent local LGBT rights groups and Pride organizations released a joint press release last week criticizing Wynwood Pride, a first-time event taking place June 21-23.

The groups, which include Pride Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride, Aqua Foundation, Arianna Center, SAVE, Unity Coalition, and the Gay8 Festival, take issue with the organization using the word Pride in its name because the event is being produced by a for-profit company.  

The above groups believe that the label “Pride” has a special place in the LGBT community and this event will tarnish its meaning. 

“Pride is not a ‘brand’ to tag on to increase market share. It’s a commemoration of the struggle of the LGBTQ+ community and a symbol of the commitment to continuing the fight against persecution and hate. It’s also a celebration of the milestones achieved and a way to honor our predecessors and elders,” Pride Fort Lauderdale’s President Miik Martorell said in a prepared statement.  

The organizers of Wynwood Pride though reject their assertions saying they are no different from other Pride festivals throughout South Florida. 

"We know some have questioned the structure of our festival and SWARM. They have been based in the neighborhood for years and have a great reputation for producing incredible events. That’s what we want Wynwood Pride to be, another fantastic event that represents our city and our rapidly growing LGBTQ community,” Anna Margarita Albelo of Wynwood Pride said in a prepared statement. “Revenue from Wynwood Pride will pay production costs of the event, with 100% of any additional proceeds going to the Wynwood Pride non-profit.”

SWARM is a for-profit events production company.  

Abelo, whose brother Tony is CEO of SWARM, signed a three-year commitment with the company to produce Wynwood Pride and help get the new non-profit off the ground. 

“We are proud and grateful to have reached such an agreement and commitment with SWARM,” Abelo said. “For us, this is a new era in activism where we can have the autonomy of our vision and collaborate with local businesses in reaching agreements that preserve the mission of our goals."

According to a press release from Wynwood any proceeds from the event, after production costs, will be split among three non-profits, Pridelines, Survivors Pathway, and the Astrea Foundation.

“Pridelines was invited to promote our programs and services at Wynwood Pride,” Victor Diaz-Herman, CEO of Pridelines, told SFGN. “We are appreciative for this opportunity to create awareness, provide services, and raise much needed funds for Pridelines as we continue to support, educate, and empower South Florida's LGBTQ youth and community, in safe and diverse spaces, to promote dialogue, wellness, and to foster social change.” 

Diaz-Herman said Wynwood is giving the organization free space where they will offer HIV/STI screenings and the festival will donate 30 percent of its proceeds from one of the bars to Pridelines. 

But many local organizations aren’t buying it. 

“SWARM is not an LGBTQ organization,” Robin Schwartz, Managing Director of Aqua Foundation, stated in the joint press release. “SWARM is calling their event 'Wynwood Pride,’ yet it is not in any way a true Pride festival. Pride festivals have historically been produced by LGBTQ organizations with a mission of commemorating our past struggles and at the same time celebrating our progress.”

Schwartz continued: “Many in South Florida's LGBTQ community are leery of the first time event being produced by the for-profit business. While we appreciate they are donating a small amount to two local organizations, this doesn't change the fact that this is a for-profit event which was clearly not created in the spirit of Miami Beach or Fort Lauderdale Pride or any other Pride of which we are aware.”

According to the above groups Wynwood Pride only registered themselves as a non-profit after receiving backlash from the community. 

Several of the signatories stressed to SFGN that they do not object to this event. They only object to the use of the word Pride in the event’s name and have officially requested Wynwood stop using it. 

Wynwood organizers have rejected the request. 

“…Wynwood Pride is a pride event, a political and cultural moment representing Miami and diverse communities on National Pride Month, especially this year, being the 50th anniversary of Stonewall,” a prepared statement reads. 

“We worked with SWARM two years ago,” Damian Pardo, Gay8 Festival Co-Producer, said in the joint release. “They wanted to enter what they perceived was a lucrative LGBTQ market. They offered to buy our event, which we refused, and they did not satisfy the terms of their ‘memorandum of understanding.’ While they were accommodating, we had serious concerns with transparency and their culture, and chose to move on.”