"Queer Miami: A History of LGBTQ Communities," a March 2019 exhibition curated by Miami native and history professor Julio Capo Jr. at HistoryMiami Museum, chronicled Miami's queer past, reflecting its gender and sexual diversity for over 100 years. Through artifacts, photographs, archival footage, and more, the exhibition displayed the stories of Miami's queer communities who, despite discrimination, isolation, and violence, managed to carve out spaces for themselves and made their voices heard in southern Florida.
Anita Bryant speaking at the podium during a Gay Rights debate, 1977. Tim Chapman, photographer. Tim Chapman Collection, HistoryMiami Museum
"We are thrilled to show Miami's LGBTQ community of today and the journey to this present moment," said HistoryMiami Museum Executive Director Jorge Zamanillo. "This exhibit is unique because the story is still being told and changing every day. We're inviting visitors to tell their own stories and be a part of history."
An expert on the intersection of gender and sexuality throughout history, Capo is also the author of Welcome to Fairyland: Queer Miami Before 1940. Published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2017, his book has received six honors, including several awards from the Florida Historical Society, Florida Book Awards, and Southern Historical Association. Capo is an associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
Sign of the times.
Man holding sign that reads "Gays in History" while walking in Miami's first Gay Rights Parade, 1978. Tim Chapman, photographer. Tim Chapman Collection, HistoryMiami Museum.
"It's an exciting -- and most necessary -- time to tell these stories," said Capo. "One of the greatest challenges in studying LGBTQ history is that our lives and experiences are so often purposefully erased from history books and archives. As this exhibit will show, our LGBTQ community, of which I am also a proud member, has persisted and persevered in Miami since its inception."
"Queer Miami" was HistoryMiami Museum's featured exhibition for the 2018-2019 calendar. Displayed in the museum's 5,000 square foot gallery, "Queer Miami" addressed topics such as: policing and criminalization, community development, advocacy and activism, immigration and the AIDS crisis, and what the future holds for Miami's queer community. Visitors saw memorabilia from some of Miami's oldest gay bars, photographs of rallies and marches, archival material from Anita Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign, historical footage, and original video interviews from the people involved in creating Miami's LGBTQ communities. Interactive components encouraged visitors to contribute their own story to the exhibition.
Celebrating LGBT rights.
Three participants riding in a car in Miami's first Gay Rights Parade, 1978. Tim Chapman, photographer. Tim Chapman Collection, HistoryMiami Museum.
Cuban-American AIDS educator and television personality Pedro Zamora seated with his father, 1990. Tim Chapman, photographer. Tim Chapman Collection, HistoryMiami Museum.
What do you do?
Couples holding signs displaying their professions in Miami's first LGBT parade, 1978. Tim Chapman, photographer. Tim Chapman Collection, HistoryMiami Museum.
Cuban refugees disembarking a U.S. Government hired boat, circa 1980. Tim Chapman, photographer. Tim Chapman Collection, HistoryMiami Museum.
Two women holding each other while walking in Miami's first Gay Rights Parade, 1978. Tim Chapman, photographer. Tim Chapman Collection, HistoryMiami Museum.
About HistoryMiami Museum
HistoryMiami Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, safeguards and shares Miami stories to foster learning, inspire a sense of place, and cultivate an engaged community. We accomplish this through education, collections, research, exhibitions, publications and City Tours. Located in the heart of downtown Miami, HistoryMiami Museum is a 70,000 square foot facility and home to more than one million historical images and 30,000 three-dimensional artifacts, including a 1920's trolley car, artifacts from Pan American World Airways, and rafts that brought refugees to Miami. For more information, call 305-375-1492 or visit historymiami.org.