Since its inception eight years ago, Out In the Tropics has used performance, cultural dialogue and a series of workshops to reflect on the complexity of the human experience and raise awareness about LGBTQ issues.
“We didn’t want to create something that is stuck inside a gay ghetto, but rather something that would feature gay artists and non-gay artists related to our cause,” says Ever Chavez, FUNDarte’s founder and director. “Our goal is to be inclusive of everyone. We mix black, Anglo and Latino artists in the same package, and when we release it, we get a super mixed audience.” As a new era of protest and activism picks up, it’s easy to see why this year’s theme is focused on gender politics. “We picked this topic to open the Pandoras box, given everything that is happening at the moment,” says Chavez. “This new administration wants to push back the progress that has been made.”
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A nightlife fixture in South Beach in the late 1980s and 90s, Cabaret star and drag artist Joey Arias, has lived through the staggering changes the LGBTQ community has experienced.
Arias, known for his spine-tingling rendition of Billie Holiday classics, will be a featured performer at this year’s festival.
“People thought you got to be an activist, and my way was pushing the envelope by looking really extraordinary in drag,” says the New York-based Arias. His intimate concert features Ben Allison on bass and Brandon Seabrook on guitar. “Two heterosexual men,” he says, adding that some original songs for this show focus on gender fluidity.
Other festival highlights include a performance on June 22nd by Spanish singer and dancer Elsa Rovayo. Known as La Shica, Rovayo has created a unique style that blends traditional Sevillanas and indie rock. With a great deal of artistry, the vocalist has broken down the staid image of the bailaora flamenca. She often speaks out about inequality in Spain, where thousands of demonstrators marched earlier this year to condemn violence against women and a gender pay gap.
Between the Lines
Saturday afternoon, the Literary Striptease at Miami Beach Botanical Garden is free and open to the public. Cuban author and journalist, Antonio Orlando Rodríguez, will perform a dramatic reading of his poems along with actress Grettel Trujillo and musician Michael Gil.
In the evening, Cuban hip-hop MCs, independent musicians, poets, theater performers and educators Las Krudas will close out the festival. For more information, visit fundarte.us.
Unity Coalition | Coalición Unida will be hosting its third annual TRANSART showcase of talent, vision and possibilities, June 8-11, at venues throughout Miami, Miami Beach and Wilton Manors. The juried art exhibition and conference features international transgender artists and their works.