By Alexis Rodriguez
Central Florida’s LGBTQ history has remained somewhat of an enigma to many young people who live in the area. Of course, in terms of a national Queer narrative, it seems like San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami, or New York City have held the historical torch of sexual resistance to the United States’ heteronormativity. Central Florida on the other hand, doesn’t seem to have much of a story for many in the Millenial and Generation Z generation, including myself. Through interning at the LGBTQ History Museum of Central Florida, I learned such was not the case. As mentioned before, (if you have not read the first article “Who is Miss P? Conversations about the historical significance of local drag and Parliament house at the Footlight Theatre,” please check it out to understand this one), Orlando has a deep history that, when given voice, shows the significance of a greater community of LGBTQ activism that developed in the late 20th century.
Who is Miss P? Conversations about the historical significance of local drag and Parliament House at the Footlight Theatre (Part 1)
By Alexis Rodriguez
The colorful crowd, loud music, the open declaration of love and drag performers; yes, it’s Pride. The month of pride has played an important part in both demonstrating the presence of LGBTQ communities in the United States, and the power in collective resistance through innumerable parades that engulf the streets. From the Stonewall riots and the Pulse nightclub massacre to the recent lawsuit against the Trump administration by a coalition of LGBTQ groups towards the stripping of medical protection for the trans community; it would seem that our reality is a political war zone. Regardless of the attempts made against the community, our culture continues to dance and celebrate life, especially with its drag performances. What’s more rebellious than a man in “women’s clothing”?
Most of our history has remained predominately within the scope of the club and bar scene. In several ways it has been, as Michael Wanzie would suggest, a haven where you could truly be yourself. Spaces within Central Florida like Southern Nights, Parliament House, Sadie’s, Faces, Bradley’s and countless others that have come and gone have permitted everyone from all walks of life to escape reality for a just moment and enjoy a few drinks, music and drag shows.
As part of the research I did for the 40 Years of the Parliament House documentary, I uncovered a great deal of information about the Parliament House Motor Inn chain. Many only the know the Parliament House as a gay resort in Orlando, but prior to 1976, it was the first in a fledgling chain of motor inns that one day hoped to become a nationwide competitor to the Holiday Inn franchise.
(The Human Heart, Loch Haven Park, Orlando Fl on Feb. 14 2014 organized by Nicki Drumb and Rachel Gardiner (center).)
Feb. 14, 2008. Rachel Gardiner and Nicki Drumb stand in the Orlando Courthouse, holding hands in front of the clerk as, yet again, they’re refused a marriage license.