South Beach: Not as Gay-Friendly as We Thought

This past weekend I got on a flight to Miami to celebrate a friend’s 25th birthday. Compared to New York’s snow and freezing temperatures this place was like our decided promised land with strong UV rays and 80 degrees. Since we were only going for 3 nights we fit in every possible hour with alcohol and parties to drink this alcohol. There’s 9 of us all together, 6 girls, 3 guys:  3 lesbians including myself, one gay guy and the rest are straight.

The first night that we ran into some trouble happened to be when we went to an open bar at The Catalina before going to Mansion. At one point at the bar, our friend Jackie was pulled aside by the promoters while she was smoking a cigarette. She was looked over for her lack of a dress and heels. Jackie came back in and told us the story but when it came down to it we labeled it as ignorance. She got into Mansion with no problems.

The next morning, we all headed for a pool party at The Shelborne. You might be familiar with this hotel if you’ve ever been to Miami’s famous lesbian event, Aqua Girl. We met up with a promoter, Greg, and after waiting around a couple of minutes he quietly explained to one of our friends that “only girls who dress like girls can come in” and that if we wanted to all go in, we’d have to get a table. Jackie, not even hearing this yet, asked what the problem was realizing that she was being scrutinized once again. After our friend told her what the promoter said, we were all outraged. This is pure discrimination. It couldn’t have been that she wasn’t dressed up to par. Considering she was dressed nicer than the guys we were with (sorry boys!). She had on cargo shorts and an ironed plaid blue and white shirt with nice sneakers. So now it’s femme only?

Our immediate reaction was, “Go fuck yourself” and a millisecond later all 9 of us were walking to another pool party at a different hotel. As we walked away, the promoter sent us a text and in turn we took a screenshot of it.

If you aren’t completely livid by this like we were and still are, I don’t know what kind of world you live in. This is wrong and nobody should be turned down service because of their sexual orientation or if their sexual orientation is evident by their way of dressing. No person, LGBT or straight, should stand for this or allow such a person to get away with this contemptible behavior.

What can we do to make sure this doesn’t happen? How many more people will be coerced into this discrimination, inflicted with the idea they did something wrong – with only a solution of walking away?

On the flight home, my girlfriend and I sat in front of a sweet older lesbian couple who were returning from Olivia’s 40th anniversary cruise. They overheard us talking about the incident and one of them interrupted us to say we “should travel with our own kind.” As compassionate and tentative this woman’s statement was, this upset me. Why do we have to limit ourselves to only lesbian cruises and events to be who we are, effortlessly? Why should any lesbian of any generation be afraid of being discriminated against and in the end, degraded? What can we do? Write letters? Start some type of movement? I just can’t imagine sitting back and letting this continue.

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