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This forgotten gay mecca has a message for us – and it’s our duty to listen

This forgotten gay mecca has a message for us – and it’s our duty to listen

The LGBTI community is known for overcoming adversity and breathing life into prosperity whilst, most importantly, surviving at all costs – and one place which deserves a spot on the podium is Miami Beach.

Although the LGBTI community in Miami Beach has been in somewhat of a hibernation in recent years – as much of the community migrated north giving rise to the popularity of Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors – the soul has never left and those dedicated to its future have been building towards a glorious resurrection.

In the early 1980’s the town found itself on the brink of collapse. Social and economic decline demolished the area’s stability, impacting greatly on tourism, and caused iconic Art Deco hotels and architecture to fall into dilapidation – Miami beach was quickly becoming a ghost town.

Running along this decline, however, emerging liberal attitudes – in light of the Stonewall riots in 1969 and the gay rights movement – ignited Miami Beach and burned through homophobia, leaving but a few burning embers behind.

Seizing the opportunity in the current economic downturn, and with the enticing climate and cultural relics, an influx of LGBTI people, the majority of which were gay men, bought up and restored the hotels, started numerous businesses and brought political and social balances benefiting all – as well as the interest of the art and fashion worlds – and effectively saved the area from extinction.

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Gianni Versace was murdered on the steps of his famous home, The Versace Mansion, in 1997, part-triggering the migration of the LGBTI community

LGBTI people put Miami Beach back on the map – uniting communities, regenerating areas and creating economic and cultural success inclusive for all made the community the heart of Miami Beach that would remain for a brief but glorious few decades.

But the bittersweet nature of this success came when the wider world came to enjoy and while Miami Beach reigned as an internationally renowned gay mecca from the late 80’s it was the ‘appearance’ of tourists and a rising population of not so accepting cultures that changed conditions and persuaded the LGBTI community to migrate north to Fort Lauderdale in the early 2000s – their next restoration project.

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However, the legalisation of same-sex sexual activity in 2003 and gay marriage in 2015 changed the tides; the opportunity to encourage and strengthen deep bonds between willing communities became clearer than ever.

Those dedicated to this actively invited LGBTI people from around the world to Miami Beach, which hosted its first all-inclusive Pride in 2009, to remind us to return to these places and reflect on the struggles made on our behalves, as well as the ones to come, and to once again lift up sites like Miami Beach to live in true harmony – and it should be our honour to relight the flame.

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The Gay Pride in 2016 brought more LGBTI people to the area than ever before

To find out more about Miami Beach Gay Pride, click here.