Florida’s LGBT community grew to over one million full-time residents in 2016. As we all lived our best lives together in the Sunshine State, we had hope that this year would be a year of happiness, even as an uncertain future loomed large in our minds. Then, the events of June 12 changed everything. After that, we learned that Florida’s LGBT community is stronger than we ever realized. We rallied around one another and stood united in the face of hatred and terror. Even as we enter uncharted territory next year with our new president, our dreams and dignity can never be shattered, for we are “Florida Strong.” Yes, even “Orlando Strong.”
Here’s a timeline covering a lot of the important events that transpired this past year that impacted Florida’s LGBT community.
January 1 – Urge presents the “Day One” party at Score in Miami Beach, featuring DJs Rosabel and Paulo & Jackinsky.
January 11 – South Florida LGBT luminary and Hotspots photographer “Pompano Bill” Calcaterra celebrates his 90th birthday with a party at Boardwalk, which is also a benefit for Tuesday’s Angels.
January 12 – Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar hosts the annual presentation of funds from the Leather Masked Ball to their chosen charities. $12,000 was given to Grateful Paws Dog and Cat Rescue, the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida, Gilda’s Club of South Florida, and the Leather Archives and Museum.
January 15-16 – Le Boy in Fort Lauderdale celebrates one full year in business.
January 15-17 – The 34th annual Fort Lauderdale Invitational Regional Tournament (FLIRT) brings dozens of teams of bowlers to compete at Sawgrass Lanes in Tamarac.
January 17 – The first-ever “Gay 8” (pronounced “gay ocho”) Festival is held on Calle Ocho in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, and is a rousing success.
January 20 – Mia Patryck and Joey Taylor are crowned Miss and Mr. Noche Latina at Bailo Nightclub in Miami.
January 23-24 – Madonna returns to the AmericanAirlines Arena to play two rescheduled performances on her “Rebel Heart Tour”.
January 28 – The Miami Beach Garden Club and Garden Conservancy present the 11th annual Taste of the Garden at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
January 30 – Aurora Sexton and Joanna James are crowned Miss Gay Southernmost USofA and Miss Gay Southernmost USofA Classic in Key West.
February 3-7 – The Floppy Rooster in Miami celebrates their second anniversary with five fun days of parties.
February 10-14 – The sixth annual Florida Sunshine Cup welcomes teams from all across the country, competing at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill.
February 11 – West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio is given the Voice for Equality Award at Equality Florida’s Palm Beach Gala, held at Lake Pavilion.
February 13 – Drag performer Varla Jean Merman and actress/singer/comedienne Lea DeLaria headline the Stonewall National Museum & Archives gala, held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
February 15 – Elishaly De Witshes and Jeffrey Kelly are crowned Miss and Mr. Pride South Florida at Aventura Arts & Cultural Center.
February 19 – South Florida Reps. Ted Deutch, Patrick Murphy, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Lois Frankel announce an Equality Caucus task force which will focus on LGBT senior citizens.
March 1 – Mack Planet celebrates its 11th anniversary with a celebration at Boatyard in Fort Lauderdale.
March 2 – The sixth annual Wolf Cuff fashion accessories benefit for Grateful Paws dog and cat rescue is held at Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar in Wilton Manors.
March 2-7 – Over 30 DJs perform during the 23rd annual Winter Party Festival, making the lineup the largest ever for the festival and fundraiser (benefiting the National LGBTQ Task Force).
March 13 – Damian Pardo, creator of this year’s popular Gay8 Festival, is honored with the Voice for Equality Award at the Equality Florida Miami Gala, held at 1 Hotel Miami Beach.
March 15 – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump win the Florida presidential primaries. Senator Marco Rubio drops out of the race after losing his home state to Trump.
March 17-20 – Wolf Bar in Wilton Manors celebrates its grand opening weekend with a full roster of events.
March 18-20 – The Ultra Music Festival takes place in Miami, featuring world-class DJs such as Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, Hardwell, Avicii and David Guetta.
March 19 – State Rep. Holly Raschein (R) and the late Frank Romano and Joe Liszka receive the Voice for Equality Award at the Equality Florida Key West Gala.
March 19-20 – The 23rd annual PrideFest of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches takes place at Bryant Park in Lake Worth.
March 20 – The 11th annual Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival takes place at South Beach Park on Fort Lauderdale Beach. The event is headlined by Sunshine State native Flo Rida.
March 20 – Pride Factory in Fort Lauderdale celebrates its twentieth anniversary.
March 21-24 – Thousands of DJs, singers and music industry professionals arrive at the Shelborne Wyndham Grand South Beach for the Winter Music Conference.
March 26 – The second annual Tampa Pride is held in Ybor City, welcoming large crowds for the festival and parade.
March 26 – The second annual Bunnies on the Drive, organized by Julian Cavazos, takes place at Richardson Park in Wilton Manors. Beneficiaries include the Renand Foundation, Citizens of the World/Selfless Acts of Kindness, and GLBX.
March 26-27 – More than 40 plant vendors are on hand for The Tropical Plant Fair, hosted by The Pride Center at Equality Park.
March 31-April 3 – The seventh annual International Gay Polo Tournament is held at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington.
March 31-April 10 – The world premiere run of the play Diego & Drew Say I Do occurs at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation and the Pride Center receive donations from ticket sales.
April 1 – A gay couple is physically attacked after expressing affection for one another at a Burger King in Miami Beach.
April 8-10 – The eighth annual Miami Beach Gay Pride weekend takes place, with Elvis Duran as grand marshal and singer Iggy Azalea as Duran’s special guest in the pride parade.
April 22-May 1 – Eighty different films are screened at the 18th annual MiFo LGBT Film Festival Miami (formerly known as the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival).
April 24 – Robbin Simmons from WSVN-TV FOX 7 hosts the 28th annual AIDS Walk Miami, benefiting Care Resource. U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R) is the grand marshal.
April 27 – Beyoncé starts her “Formation World Tour” with a performance at Marlins Park in Miami.
April 28 – Dining Out for Life takes place in South Florida, benefiting Broward House.
May 12 – The fundraiser Red Hot & In Style is held at Village Pub. The bachelor and bachelorette auction raises money for Deliver the Dream’s family retreat programs.
May 13 – The second annual Diversity Honors is held at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood. Tony Award-winner Levi Kreis is the headlining performer. Honorees include Peter Clark, Enbar Cohen, Dr. Mark Denker, Rae Franks, Robert Runcie, Ryland Whittington and Judge David Young.
May 14 – The Annual Night Out for Pets, hosted by the Pet Project for Pets, takes place at the Wilton Manors Animal Hospital.
May 21 – The Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce’s Amethyst Gala is held at the Hilton Miami Downtown. Hotspots, Jackson Health System, Damian Pardo and Raquel Matas are given awards at the reception.
May 28 – The second annual Caribbean LGBT Pride Festival, organized by SunServe, welcomes hundreds to Richardson Park in Wilton Manors.
May 29 – The 18th annual White Fort Lauderdale, presented by Gary Santis Events, is held at The Manor, featuring host Lady Guy and special guests Acid Betty and DJ Tony Moran.
May 31-June 5 – The 26th annual Gay Disney Week welcomes over 200,000 people to Orlando.
June 3-5 – One Magical Weekend’s events are held at the B Resort and Spa and at Walt Disney World theme parks. During the One Magical Weekend main event on June 4, singer Kesha pulls Joseph Negrelli on-stage, where he proposes to his longtime boyfriend Naveed.
June 5 – The 10th annual SAVE Champions of Equality brunch is held on the Lady Windridge Yacht off the coast of downtown Miami. The honorees selected are Rev. Leo Frade, Rep. Holly Raschein, Roxanne Vargas and Dr. Hansel Tookes.
June 8-12 – The 39th annual Key West Pridefest takes place on Duval Street in downtown Key West.
June 11 – Mhi’ya LePaige is crowned Ultimate Miami Drag Queen 2016 at Magic City Casino’s Stage 305, with Derrick Barry and Lady Bunny also attending as special guest performers.
June 12 – 49 people die and 53 people are injured after a lone shooter, Omar Mateen, storms Pulse nightclub in Orlando and spends hours inside the bar, shooting anyone who crosses his path. Mateen is killed by police officers three hours after entering Pulse. As news continues to reach the area and the world into the morning, thousands of people line up at Orlando blood banks to donate blood. Both President Obama and Hillary Clinton speak to the nation and give messages of support to the Orlando LGBT community. The President orders flags to be flown at half-staff. Stonewall Inn in New York City hosts a vigil for the victims.
June 13 – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer announces the creation of the OneOrlando Fund, which would raise money for Pulse shooting victims and their families.
June 15-18 – FUNDarte’s annual Out in the Tropics events, showcasing out Hispanic artists and their performing arts, take place in Miami.
June 15-26 – The second annual TRANSART festival, featuring work by transgender artists, is presented in both Miami Beach and Wilton Manors.
June 16 – President Obama visits the Pulse memorial and the GLBT Community Center of Central Florida, taking the time to speak to families of the victims.
June 18 – Wilton Manors Stonewall Street Festival takes place on Wilton Drive, with an estimated 30,000 people flocking to Wilton Manors’ main drive.
June 19 – Over 50,000 people attend a Pulse memorial vigil at Lake Eola in downtown Orlando.
June 23-26 – Over 150,000 people celebrate the 14th annual St. Pete Pride festivities. Deborah Cox is the headliner of the SP2 concert on June 24.
June 25 – Compass hosts the annual Stonewall Black & White Ball at the Harriet Himmel Theater in West Palm Beach.
July 11 – GLAAD and Interscope Records announce the benefit single “Hands”, sung by 25 different artists including Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, and Jason Derulo.
July 14-18 – The Miami Beach Bruthaz event celebrates its 10th anniversary with five days of events geared toward the black and Hispanic LGBT communities.
July 16 – ArtServe’s event Redeye is held in Fort Lauderdale. The urban art show’s theme for this year is “Reality Reimagined.”
July 23 – At a campaign rally in Miami, Hillary Clinton introduces her running mate, Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia.
July 25 – Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar hosts the Bartenders, Boxers & Briefs charity event, which raised money for Tuesday’s Angels. Auctioneers at the event included Miss Kitty and Nikki Adams.
July 26 – Michael Walters (Florida’s Own Dame Edna) celebrates the seventh anniversary of his Broadway cabaret show at Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar.
August 1-31 – Tokyo Valentino Erotique in Miami celebrates two successful years in business in South Florida with a month of events and sales, including the beats of DJ Jeffrey Jacobs every Saturday of the month.
August 1-31 – Spa Cabanas in Wilton Manors celebrates its eighth anniversary with a month full of specials for their customers.
August 8 – Chasity Ross Boen crowns her successor, Shantell D’Marco, at the end of the Miss Florida F.I. pageant, held at the Deauville Beach Resort in Miami Beach.
August 13 – Pridelines’ Masquerade Ball, one of the most important fundraising events of the year for the celebrated organization, is held at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.
August 18 – The fourth annual SAVE Luminary Awards take place at the Bacardi headquarters in Coral Gables. Honored at the event are Benjamin Evans, Commissioner Justin Flippen, LJ Woolston, Jason King, and Lutze Segu.
August 20 – The South Florida LGBT community comes together to support the Poverello Center at the 26th annual Poverello Bowling to Fight Hunger event, held at Sawgrass Lanes in Tamarac.
August 20 – Dutch singer Natalie La Rose performs live at Score’s 18th anniversary bash in Miami Beach.
August 30 – Community activists Mark Budwig, Marta Gonzalez, Marie Brown Hayes and Ken Rapkin are recognized at the Broward House Spirit of Hope Grand Reception at the B Ocean Resort on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
September 1 – South Florida resident Craig Jungwirth is arrested in Orlando after he threatens a Pulse-style assault on Wilton Manors during Labor Day Weekend.
September 6 – The last survivor of the Pulse shooting is released from Orlando Regional Medical Center.
September 7-14 – Georgie’s Alibi/Monkey Bar in Wilton Manors celebrates its 19th anniversary with a week of events, including performances by Jennifer McClain, Lenora Jaye and Michael Walters’ Dame Edna.
September 14 – Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale is renamed Savor Cinema, in honor of donor and Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival board member Steve Savor.
September 20 – The Fort Lauderdale City Commission approves a plan which will move Pride Fort Lauderdale to Fort Lauderdale Beach for 2017.
September 21 – Hotspots publishes an exclusive interview with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, conducted by Mike Halterman. This is just her second LGBT magazine interview she has granted up until this point (after The Advocate).
September 22 – The fourth annual Pink Flamingo Awards are held at Jungle Island in Miami. Comedienne Julie Goldman is host of the event.
September 24 – South Florida-based Opera Fusion premieres its Matthew Shepard musical drama Not In My Town at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. The production is also performed at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts.
September 24 – The third annual ARTOPIA fundraiser, benefiting the GLBX Council of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, is held at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale.
September 27-October 2 – Alec Mapa and ANT are two of the celebrity guests at this year’s International Bear Bash at DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld.
October 4 – Lips Fort Lauderdale’s cast performs “An Evening with Victor/Victoria”, the drag dining destination’s annual fundraiser for CBS Miami’s Neighbors 4 Neighbors.
October 7 – Due to Hurricane Matthew, Orlando Pride’s festival and parade, scheduled for October 8, is postponed. It is later rescheduled for November 12.
October 7-16 – The second annual MiFo Fort Lauderdale (formerly the Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian Film Festival) screens dozens of films at multiple locations across the city, such as the NSU Art Museum, Gateway Theatre and the Gallery of Amazing Things.
October 8 – The Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami celebrates its tenth anniversary with a birthday concert headlined by Cee Lo Green.
October 18 – Wilton Manors is one of the sixty municipalities nationwide that scored a perfect 100 on the latest Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index.
October 21 – The movie Moonlight, about a black gay inner-city Miami youth, premieres in theaters nationwide. The film would go on to earn twice its original budget in ticket sales.
October 22 – The Miami Heat’s “Loud and Proud Event”, with proceeds benefiting Pridelines, is held at XFINITY East Plaza at the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami. Openly gay basketball player Jason Collins makes an appearance at the event, as do current Miami Heat players and the Miami Heat dancers.
October 28 – SAVE’s 22nd annual Halloween Ball is held at Magic City Casino in Miami. This year’s theme is “Disco de los Muertos”.
October 28-31 – One Magical Weekend, in partnership with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau, throws its inaugural “Scarecation Weekend” on Fort Lauderdale Beach.
October 30 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gives a campaign speech at The Manor Complex in Wilton Manors. She is the guest of honor at Hotspots Media Group’s “Community in Unity” get-out-the-vote rally. Other guests include Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick, and Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin.
October 31 – Wicked Manors brings a number of Halloween-themed activities to Wilton Drive, such as trick-or-treating and costume contests. Tens of thousands of people pack the Drive for the event, which doubles as a benefit for The Pride Center. The theme this year is “Political Nightmare: Scandals, Secrets and Sins”.
November 3 – Noted South Florida press agent and creator of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Charlie Cinnamon, passes away at age 94.
November 4-20 – Over 100 of the best recent indie films are showcased at this year’s Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival.
November 8 – Statewide elections: The initiative legalizing medical marijuana passes public vote after a highly publicized defeat two years ago. Marco Rubio defeats Patrick Murphy to win another term in the Senate. David Richardson wins another term to the Florida House of Representatives.
November 12 – A record crowd turns out for the Orlando Pride Festival and Parade at Lake Eola. The parade, the longest ever, takes participants and floats into Downtown Orlando proper for the first time and clocks in at nearly three hours.
November 12 – The Greater Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce hosts their inaugural LGBT Wedding & Business Expo at The Sanctuary Church in Fort Lauderdale.
November 13 – The Equality Florida Broward Gala is held at the B Ocean Resort on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Over 500 community leaders gathered to see Martina Navratilova honored with the “Voice for Equality” Award.
November 14 – The eleventh annual Taste of the Island event welcomes 700 people for a food tasting at Richardson Historic Park in Wilton Manors.
November 18-19 – The 13th annual SMART Ride, an annual fundraiser benefiting local and state HIV/AIDS service organizations, takes bicyclists on a 165-mile route from Miami to Key West.
November 19 – The 20th annual National LGBTQ Task Force Miami Gala is held at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, hosted by Alec Mapa and featuring a performance by Tony Award nominee Beth Malone. The gala raises $650,000 for various LGBT programs and services in South Florida.
November 23-28 – Twelve major Miami and Miami Beach circuit party events make up the 32nd annual White Party Week, which serves as a fundraiser for Care Resource. The signature White Party is held under the stars, on the stands of 12th Street Beach for the first time.
November 25-27 – Over 50 teams from across the country compete in the 23rd annual Hurricane Showdown softball tournament, held at Mills Pond Park and Brian Piccolo Park in Fort Lauderdale.
November 26 – The eleventh annual Leather Masked Ball, organized by Lambda Men’s Brotherhood, is held at Wolf Bar in Wilton Manors. Beneficiary charities include Grateful Paws Dog & Cat Rescue, Pink Nail Society, Pulse Victims Fund, and the Leather Archives & Museum.
November 26-December 4 – The second annual Pig Week Fort Lauderdale is presented by Cubcuda Productions.
November 27 – Country music legend Dolly Parton performs at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. Parton grants an interview to Hotspots’ Mike Halterman in the run-up to the concert date.
November 30 – Miami Beach resident Joseph Jorczak is arrested after allegedly threatening to recreate a Pulse-style massacre at Miami Beach Community Church.
December 1-4 – Nearly 75,000 people view works of art from around the world at the 15th annual Art Basel Miami Beach. Installations can be seen at the Miami Beach Convention Center and the Wynwood Arts District. Singer Madonna holds a VIP concert during Art Basel, raising money for Malawi.
December 3 and December 5 – Gay icon Barbra Streisand performs her greatest hits and songs from her album ENCORE: Movie Partners Sing Broadway at the BB&T Center in Sunrise and the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami.
December 12 – The 14th annual Cocktails for Compass gala, the organization’s largest yearly fundraiser, is held at Club Colette in Palm Beach.
December 15 – The seventh annual Holigay Celebration and Toy Drive is held at the The Hub at the LGBT Visitor Center in Miami Beach.