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A History of LGBTQ Communities 

Queer Miami: A History of LGBTQ Communities at HistoryMiami Museum chronicles Miami’s queer past from the 1890s to the present. It reflects multiple forms of gender and sexual expressions through Greater Miami’s history. In locating Miami’s status as a city of the Americas, it is also attentive to questions of segregation, racial violence, incarceration, public health, and immigration. Through artifacts, photographs, archival footage, and more, the exhibition displays the stories of Miami’s diverse queer communities who, despite discrimination, isolation, and violence, carved out spaces for themselves in southern Florida. Moments of defiance, resistance, and triumph are emphasized, highlighting stories of community and identity formation, coalition building, and civil rights. The exhibition also encourages museum visitors to share their personal stories in an effort to acknowledge the diversity of the LGBTQ communities over time.


The exhibition is curated by Julio Capó, Jr., now Deputy Director of the Wolfsonian Public Humanities Lab and Associate Professor of History at FIU. He was born and raised in Miami and is the author of the award-winning book Welcome to Fairyland: Queer Miami before 1940.

“It’s an exciting—and most necessary—time to tell these stories,” said Capó. He was quoted as saying, “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.” He added “often the national narrative of LGBTQ history is told through experiences of people in cities like New York, San Francisco, or Chicago, which of course are also very important, but events that took place in Miami helped shape the trajectory of a national movement in remarkable ways. This year, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall rebellion that helped launch a new era in gay organizing and reform, I hope this exhibit shows the significance of seeing an event like Stonewall as one event among many of other such moments of LGBTQ resistance and empowerment that existed both prior and after that moment.”

LGBTQ Miami’s Journey

Queer Miami was HistoryMiami Museum’s featured exhibition from March 26, 2019 to September 1, 2019. The 5,000-square-foot exhibition is organized into five sections:

  1. Policing, Surveillance, and Criminalization
  2. Community Development, Representation, and Advocacy
  3. Fighting for Their Rights, Fighting for Their Lives
  4. Gateway to the Americas
  5. Looking Ahead

HistoryMiami Museum is the area’s preeminent history museum, telling the story of Miami’s people and the events that have made those people who they are. The exhibit was the first of its kind for the museum, which is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution. HistoryMiami Museum has set a goal to safeguard and share Miami stories to foster learning, inspire a sense of place, and cultivate an engaged community, so an exhibit on the area’s queer history was not only needed, but was important for the museum to highlight. In an interview, HistoryMiami Museum Executive Director, Jorge Zamanillo, expressed how thrilled the museum was to show Miami’s LGBTQ community and its journey over the past century.