A little more than a year after same-sex marriage became legal in Florida, best friends Damian Pardo and Joe Cardona are introducing Gay8, a daylong festival taking place Sunday, Jan. 17, in Little Havana. The festival's founders agree that this is a time for celebration, but they say the fight for equal rights isn't over.
"I don't want my 8-year-old daughter growing up in a world that discriminates against people simply for who they love or who they identify as," says Cardona, who isn't gay. "The notion that the LGBT issue is done and that the struggle for rights is done, I think it's a dangerous thing to fall into."
Pardo is the godfather of Cardona's daughter. He says the LGBT movement needs to have more straight people, such as Cardona, involved as leaders.
"I think we need many, many more Joes, until that just becomes the norm," Pardo says. "Frankly, as an activist in the LGBT community for over 25 years, we would be nowhere if it wasn't for the mainstream community understanding this issue and being touched by it."
Gay8 Festival will begin 11 a.m. Sunday on Southwest Eighth Street, better known as Calle Ocho. It will feature food and arts-and-crafts vendors, and live music all day. The main stage will present Afro-Cuban funk band Palo, salsa singer Lucy Grau, the Latin funk and electronica act Spam Allstars and the Afro-Latin band Suénalo. All these performers are from Miami.
It will also offer free screenings of international LGBT movies at Miami Dade College's Tower Theater at 1508 SW Eighth St. France's "Stranger by the Lake" and Venezuela's "My Straight Son" are among the scheduled films.
"As LGBT people, I think there's a place for us to be leaders in this society and to be role models," Pardo says. "One of those things is working with diversity, because we do include everyone, right? We have women. We have African-Americans. We have people from El Salvador. Everything. And we all have to sit down and work with each other despite having differences."
Gay8 Festival will take place 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 17, on Southwest Eighth Street from 14th to 17th avenues. Admission is free. Go to Gay8Festival.com.