Ocean Drive beams with pride

Miami's 11th annual Pride festival and parade took place on Saturday, April 6 and Sunday, April 7 on Ocean Drive in South Beach. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis

Year-round, Miami is a hub for the LGBTQ+ community. But once a year– usually around early April– everything gets bigger, better and gayer as the LGBTQ+ community, along with their friends and allies, gathers to celebrate their identities.

Miami Pride lasts all week, each event leading up to the weekend’s Miami Beach Pride festival and parade. This year’s events included a pride flag raising ceremony, a memorial to the victims of the PULSE shooting, a drag queen competition at Magic City Casino, Miss Miami Beach Pride Pageant and a free community night at the Perez Art Museum.

Festival-goers pose for a photo-op with the Stella Rose rainbow wall at the Miami Beach Pride festival Saturday, April 6. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis

Miami’s 11th annual Pride festival and parade kicked off Saturday, April 6 at Lummus Park in South Beach.

Starting at noon, Ocean Drive came to life with vendors, drinks, foods, performers and interactive tents. Attendees flooded the streets with eclectic outfits and rainbow prints of all shapes and sizes.

Performers included iconic drag queen Lady Bunny and Miami-based DJ Hottpants. Tents ranged from World Pride NY (and their virtual reality tour of New York City) to Cryos International Sperm Bank (where they handed out egg and sperm-shaped magnets) to free HIV testing clinics.

Cryos International Sperm Bank offers information on their services and egg-and-sperm-shaped magnets at their tent at Miami Beach Pride Saturday, April 6. Photo credit: Jordan Lewis

As an LGBTQ+ individual, I felt at home. I felt the love in the air as people waved their flags and danced around without a care in the world.

Though I did not get to attend the main event, Sunday’s annual parade along Ocean Drive, there was no shortage of Canes who did make it there. UM’s LGBTQ Student Center arranged roundtrip transportation and had a float in the parade that was overflowing with faculty and students, gay and straight alike.

This was sophomore Amuru Patterson’s first Pride, and she said it was inspiring and all-around amazing.

“Being on the float, I felt like a celebrity waving at everyone, throwing up the U and dancing to every song that came on,” Patterson said. “It was the first time in a long time that I felt truly free. We were all so shameless and excited to be a part of something big.”

Drag Queen Lady Bunny performs at the Celebrity Cruises stage the Miami Pride festival on Saturday, April 6. Lady Bunny's career began in the 80s alongside Ru Paul, and since, she has appeared on television and in the nightclub scene and organized her own drag festival called "Wigstock." Photo credit: Jordan Lewis

On the other hand, senior Tyra Collins is a Pride veteran. She has been to events in both Houston and Miami and said Pride is an “indicator that the city you live in accepts you.”

“At Pride, people are just free. No one is worried about what other people are thinking because the whole festival is based on being yourself and being comfortable in your own skin,” Collins said. “I feel like all gay people, really all people in general, should go to at least one Pride event to show people that are afraid to come out that there is a community out there, that there are people out there like them.”