The 2018 Gay8 “GayOcho” Festival has been scheduled for President’s Day weekend on Sunday, February 18. In collaboration with City of Miami officials, organizers were able to secure the February date, originally considered for its inaugural year.
“We are grateful to the City of Miami for understanding our constraints and appreciating our position. We believe that through our meeting yesterday the city demonstrated their commitment to diversity and inclusion. We also look forward to working with the City to improve the permit process” said Damian Pardo, festival organizer.
Gay8 Festival Cancelled on Calle Ocho:
Organizers of the Gay8 “Gay Ocho” Festival call for an LGBTQ boycott of holding special events in the City of Miami due to their scheduled date being released by City of Miami officials forcing the festival to abruptly cancel its event on Calle Ocho for 2018.
The Gay8 “Gay Ocho” Festival along with the organizations listed below are calling for a boycott of all LGBTQ special events in the City of Miami.
The festival was founded three years ago by a group of community volunteers led by Damian Pardo and Joe Cardona, who believed South Florida was too segregated. Their contribution to the community they loved was to offer a festival that bridged the parts of South Florida that didn’t normally connect.
Through much hard work and without making any individual profit (and while paying full fees to the City of Miami), Gay8 Festival built a day of music, food, art and fun connecting well over 45,000 people over two consecutive years on the Sunday of the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend.
On July 9th, through a third party, organizers learned their scheduled date – Sunday, January 14th, 2018 had been approved for another festival – The Three Kings Parade (“Three Kings”) sponsored by Univision.
The news was catastrophic as Gay8 Festival’s programming and fundraising had been built around the MLK weekend. Further, organizers were shocked that no one in the city had contacted Gay8 Festival.
The City, through its manager Daniel Alfonso, claimed “Three Kings” had submitted their paperwork in June, and had a long standing relationship with the City going back 48 years.
“The City of Miami was unjust and reckless in giving away our date,” Cardona pointed out. “Our 45,000 attendees are not invisible. The business generated for local merchants throughout the year is not insignificant. We will not be steam rolled by City of Miami bureaucrats.”
The inequity from Gay8 Festival’s perspective was the process by which the date was approved and released, as well as the lack of any effort to remediate the situation. The City should have had (after two, consecutive years) Gay8 Festival on its events calendar, and the city should have offered a right of first refusal to organizers. On the City’s own website, it is clear that the mere submission of paperwork is insufficient to reserve a date. Instead, city procedures refer to an “internal approval.”
“The City of Miami ignored the existence of the Gay8 Festival when it gave away the date,” said Elizabeth Regalado, the Chair of SAVE. “In doing so, they turned their back on 45,000 people who believe in a better, more inclusive community.”
Despite several appeals by organizers to City of Miami leadership to work toward a positive resolution, there has been no attempt to address the issue by the City of Miami to date.
This conflict, along with the lack of will to remediate the situation, has left Gay8 Festival no other alternative than to cancel the Gay8 Festival on Calle Ocho and warn all organizations (but specifically LGBTQ ones) that the City is not interested in supporting community efforts to connect different groups of people and thereby attract more business.
Pardo stated, “It is incredible that important community building and charitable efforts can end as a result of uncooperative bureaucrats. We had hoped to grow the relationship between the LGBTQ community and the City of Miami. We built this festival to overcome segregation, and in doing so found ourselves victims to it.”
As a result, today, organizers call for all LGBTQ organizations to boycott special events in the City of Miami. Organizers also hope to raise awareness of these issues with other groups wishing to hold special events in the City of Miami.