UM students celebrate diversity, individuality at Miami Beach Pride

Already a social hub for the queer community, Miami Beach takes the time once a year to get larger, more grand, and even queerer. During this time, friends and supporters of all walks of life are encouraged to come together in celebration of their identities.

Typically held in early April, this year’s Miami Beach Pride was forced back by the ongoing pandemic. However, if there is one thing a virus cannot stop, it’s the pride that filled many of UM’s students in attendance this past weekend.

Floats on Ocean Drive celebrate Miami Beach Pride on Sept. 19
Floats on Ocean Drive celebrate Miami Beach Pride on Sept. 19 Photo credit: Martin Hidalgo

Held over a full week from Sept. 10-19 with the grandiose parade event occurring on the last day, Miami Beach Pride was filled with celebrity performances and DJ sets, attracting visitors from all over the globe. This year’s headliners included Spanish music legend Paulina Rubio and prior “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Latrice Royale.

Christian Weiman, a senior psychology student who identifies as a gay/queer man, spoke about his experience attending his first Miami Beach Pride.

“The best part about Pride is the sense of community you feel being there,” Weiman elaborated. “It makes me feel safe knowing that I can be dressed and act how I want without danger of someone attacking me or making fun of me for being who I am.”

He mentioned his disappointment with this year’s headliners, hoping to see someone larger in the future.

“I would love to see a bigger headliner like Kim Petras or Christina Aguilera,” said Weiman.

Supporters of the LGBTQIA+ community in Miami Beach celebrate with colorful gear along Ocean Drive
Supporters of the LGBTQIA+ community in Miami Beach celebrate with colorful gear along Ocean Drive on Sept. 19 Photo credit: Martin Hidalgo

Dre Joseph, a current JD student in the UM School of Law who identifies as a bisexual man, stressed how uplifting the event was after being inside for so long during the pandemic.

“The turnout was great for sure,” Joseph explained. “I’m just glad because it was my first Pride event. I missed last year because of COVID, so I’m happy we got to celebrate this year. I really liked the stages with music and queer performers getting their moment. Latrice Royale was great.”

Joseph mentioned that an important opportunity was lost without the inclusion of queer-owned businesses.

“We definitely need more support for queer businesses,” Joseph articulated. “A lot of big corporations showed up, which is fine, we’ll take the sponsorship coin, but I know for a fact Miami has a lot of LGBTQIA+ owned businesses that could have been given their moment.”

Festival attendees light up Ocean Drive with colorful smoke bomb on Sept. 19
Festival attendees light up Ocean Drive with colorful smoke bomb on Sept. 19 Photo credit: Martin Hidalgo

Blaise Ciarrocchi, a senior studying business management and Spanish who identifies as a gay man, repeated the same sentiment as Weiman in regards to the uplifting emotion around the event.

“This is my first Pride in Miami, but I was able to attend Pride in NYC over the summer,” Ciarrocchi expressed. “It feels so great to just be surrounded by people like myself and to not feel threatened in any way. I love getting involved with the LGBTQIA+ community and this was such an awesome opportunity to learn about all the groups in Miami and south Florida to get involved with. I was so excited to see the University of Miami participate in the parade, especially with Sebastian.”

Although the event is open to everyone, Ciarrocchi wished more of Miami’s allies would have attended in support.

“I would really love to see more allies get involved,” he said. “I think there’s a stigma that it’s only for people in the community, but I wish my straight friends showed a little more support. Maybe the school could help publicize this.”

Large floats celebrating Pride drive down Ocean Drive on Sept. 19
Large floats celebrating Pride drive down Ocean Drive on Sept. 19 Photo credit: Martin Hidalgo

Lauren Yelner, a broadcast journalism major who did attend as an ally to the community, explained why she chose to attend.

“I went to support friends,” she said. “I have also been to New York Pride. My favorite part about Pride was the energy all around and the happiness and inclusivity that was pouring out of everyone. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming of one another and it’s something you don’t see everywhere for sure.”

She explained that the diversity of the event was what made it so special.

“I think the best part about Pride was the variety of events they had from the parade with all different people and groups in it to vendors and performers and then to the art and installations,” Yelner said. “There was something for everyone, and everyone was welcomed.”