Upon graduating from The New School in New York City, journalist Odalis Garcia worked as an intern for South Florida FM-radio station and NPR affiliate, WLRN. From the start, she knew she wanted her project to be focused on the queer scene in Miami, specifically Counter Corner.
Counter Corner is a monthly queer party that features performances by local drag personas, such as Juleisy y Karla and Miss Toto.
‘I had found out about [Counter Corner] a couple of months before I even started my internship,’ Garcia recalls. ‘I knew that this was a South Florida/Miami story that I wanted to tell.’
Garcia’s Miami History
‘I basically grew up in Miami and it wasn’t a place I really wanted to be in when I was young because I felt there was no artistic queer scene (or any culture outside of Cuban culture), which is why I moved to NYC for college,’ Garcia tells GSN.
‘But in coming back home I kinda poked around the internet, did a little research about like queer events happening in the city, and I found out about Counter Corner and Flaming Classics.’
‘As someone who identifies as bisexual/queer, I was interested in knowing more about Miami’s queer scene because it’s such a vibrant city that I was like, there’s gotta be more than what I thought was here. And there definitely was! I just never really wanted to look before – probably because I was so dead-set on just coming back to Miami to see family.’
‘I discovered that there’s so much more than meets the eye regarding Miami’s queer/lgbt/gay scene.’
For Garcia, the process of reporting this story went smoothly. ‘The hosts and the performers/artists I interviewed were really open about how they felt regarding Miami’s queer scene and what they did,’ she says.
‘So that made it really easy for me to create this really great tapestry of their voices and experiences.’
‘This story is 10000% not about me,’ Garcia emphasizes. ‘This is about the artists: the drag queens and kings who are out there doing this incredible work and just constantly working, like Miss Toto, the drag queen I interviewed, who is doing all these gigs as Miss Toto and also is a personal trainer, and does all this other stuff with [the University of Miami].’
The most challenging part of this project for Garcia was editing down her work and creating the four minute narration.
‘I guess I want people to listen to the story and then be inspired to go out to Counter Corner, Flaming Classics, or any of the other events that happen in the city,’ she says. ‘And to see that it’s just this super wonderful space where you can be yourself, which I feel is important to have in such a big city.’
‘Queer culture in Miami is flourishing, thriving, beautiful, vibrant – and why wouldn’t you want to be a part?’
Garcia urges people to support their local drag scenes.
‘If there’s something you feel is missing from your community to not be afraid to go out and do it. That’s what I learned the most from speaking with Juleisy, Karla, and Sleeper (founders of Counter Corner) – that if you want to get something done, do it yourself!’
Read/listen to Garcia’s profile of Counter Corner on WLRN’s website, here.