The Winter Party Festival produced by the National LGBTQ Task Force is one of the world’s largest and best-loved celebrations for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. The Festival has evolved into a week-long series of events, taking place on Miami Beach and benefiting the LGBTQ community both locally and nationally. Much of the gross proceeds from Winter Party Festival support the Task Force’s efforts to take action, build power and create change for LGBTQ people. A significant amount of the remaining proceeds are also donated to local service organizations through a grant-making process administered by the Miami Foundation.
Founded in 1994, the original Winter Party featured just one event, a huge dance party held on the sands of South Beach. The blend of SoBe, surf and sun, along with fabulous people, music and weather, proved to be an irresistible combination for Winter Party’s success. Soon, thousands of LGBTQ people were pouring in from around the world, making this one of the hottest weekends on the queer calendar of South Florida. Over the years, Winter Party has grown and evolved to a weeklong celebration with dozens of events, from cocktail parties, to stage shows to health advocacy programs — drawing more than 10,000 attendees to the festival. The roster of international DJ talent and Miami’s unparalleled venues provide the kind of events that could never happen anyplace else in the world.
This year’s festival is already shaping up to be a major success, with passes and tickets selling out at many levels. This year’s theme — With Open Arms — focuses on the organization’s dedication and specific efforts to make WPF a welcoming environment for all. In 2018, a study conducted by the Task Force and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau articulated that 55% percent of attendees at WPF identify as non-Caucasian. This year, organizers worked to diversify the talent on the DJ roster by including more women, featuring the skills of Sharon O Love (making her US debut), Anne Louise and MORABITO behind the turntables.
“Winter Party Festival has always been friendly and inclusive,” WPF Festival Chair Rene Wolfensberger said in a statement.” “This year we wanted to turn it up a notch and encourage everyone, volunteers, committee members, staff and guests to welcome each other with open arms. It’s an international gesture of inclusion and ties very well into our vision statement: ‘Bringing the world together to create change while celebrating you.’”
“This year as we bring in a new era for Winter Party Festival, one thing that I am extremely excited about is our all new Nikki Beach Club venue for our Under One Sun: Evolution, presented by Impulse Group,” added Vice Chair Sergio Orlando. “As the Festival grows larger each year, we strategically chose Nikki Beach Club to expand our guests experience for this iconic and original event. We couldn’t be more thrilled to bring this new venue to our Winter Party Festival line up.”
When the partying and weekend come to a close, the proceeds from WPF not only benefit the Task Force, but also other South Florida based LGBTQ organizations as well. In 2018, the Task Force donated $215,000 to the LGBTQ Community Fund at the Miami Foundation, for a total of nearly $3 million given back since the Task Force began producing Winter Party and the National LGBTQ Task Force Gala – Miami in 2005.
“The LGBTQ movement is as relevant today as it was when we fought back police raids at the Stonewall Inn 50 years ago,” Task Force Director of Communications Sarah Massey explained. “We still have a lot to do to achieve full liberation and equality for all of us. The Task Force is on the vanguard of this work. We are keeping the Trump administration in check, organizing faith communities to be welcoming, and protecting our hard-earned freedoms while expanding legal protections for all.”
In 2018, some of the Task Force’s efforts to create change for LGBTQ people included:
- In January, the Task Force convened over 4,000 activists in Washington, D.C. at the 30th Creating Change Conference. The annual conference offered over 350 workshops, plenaries, panels, and entertainment. During Creating Change, the Task Force hosted the largest LGBTQ Capital Hill Advocacy Day ever. Over 500 LGBTQ folks and allies took to Capitol Hill advocating at the national level for an end to discrimination, democracy reform, and gun violence prevention, among many issues.
- Throughout 2018, the Task Force’s political team focused its efforts on two significant political referendums, Yes on Three in Massachusetts and Yes on Four in Florida. The Massachusetts campaign was about shoring up hard-won anti-discrimination protections for trans people in the state. In Florida, the Task Force played the key role in making the connections around voter disenfranchiment to LGBTQ communities. The Task Force mobilized in support of a referendum to expand state law to include 1.4 million voters. Both efforts passed with the Task Force’s help.
- When it came to the courts, where many LGBTQ rights are solidified, the Task Force led a racial justice amicus brief on the Masterpiece Cakeshop case to the Supreme Court. The case sought to affirm a business owner’s right to discriminate against LGBTQ people due to his religious liberty. The Task Force strongly disagreed with that dangerous idea, and worked to show that the forces of discrimination might be brought against any type of identity that a person may have, not just LGBTQ.
- The Task Force continued its work to ensure the federal government works for LGBTQ people. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a proposed rule in January 2018 that would allow healthcare providers to insert a giant religious and moral exemption into all of their health programs. In other words, healthcare professionals could deny care to LGBTQ people especially transgender people, women, and people living with HIV. At the same time, the HHS Office of Civil Rights opened a new division of “Conscience and Religious Freedom” to enforce this so-called “religious or moral” discrimination. We worked to stop this “license to discriminate” in healthcare by organizing large coalitions and individuals to comment on the law.
- In October, the Task Force presented its annual Queering Racial Justice program in Detroit. The convening brings together hundred of LGBTQ people, racial justice activists, allies, and leaders to ensure strong connections across movements who join together and learn more about how race and racism have shaped mobilizing and advocacy efforts; celebrate how Queer and Trans People of Color (QTPOC) movement building has endured through time and flourishes today; and deepen our leadership skills as community workers to center racial justice in our work.
- On November 6, 2018, the Task Force Action Fund celebrated major victories for LGBTQ elected leaders across the country. The Action Fund was on the ground in Florida and Massachusetts for political wins there, as well as having distributed tens of thousands “Queer the Vote” fact sheets on what LGBTQ issues are the focus of political change.
Weekend Passes have already sold out, but a limited number of VIP and Festival passes are still available. Discounted individual event tickets are also on sale now. Mix-and-match to create a unique Winter Party experience. Tickets do tend to sell out for many events, so hurry. To purchase tickets or to learn more about Winter Party Festival 2019, please visit: www.winterparty.com.