Gay8 Festival to celebrate LGBT culture on Calle Ocho in the heart of Little Havana

Gay8 Festival organizers gather at the restaurant Ball & Chain in Little Havana on Jan. 8, 2016. From left to right: Damian Pardo, Alexis Fernandez, AKA drag queen Marytrini, Amy Bloom and Joe Cardona. The festival will be the first major LGBT event in Little Havana, which begins Jan. 15 at Ball & Chain and culminates with a street festival on Calle Ocho.

Miami financial advisor Damian Pardo said it’s time to shatter the “mythology” that LGBT people are unwelcome — and unsafe —on Calle Ocho.

“There are gay business owners. There are gay people living in Shenandoah and in Silver Bluff. They are already there,” Pardo said. “There is a whole community of transgender women that live and work there, and they feel safe, comfortable, happy there. They don’t want to live anywhere else. But that story hasn’t been told about Little Havana.”

Pardo, a longtime gay activist who “grew up on the streets of Little Havana,” is co-producingGay8, a free street festival Sunday to celebrate LGBT art, music and culture in the heart of Calle Ocho between 14th and 17th avenues.

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