Psrty-goers at a previous Nat. LGBTQ Task Force Winter Pride event

Nat. LGBTQ Task Force's Michael Bath Wants You to Party for a Good Cause this Weekend

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 8 MIN.

Sometimes, with the storm of punitive anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that GOP-led state governments are pushing, it can seem like we are living through dark days. Combine that with the February blues, and you have the perfect reason for throwing a week-long festival of music, festivities, and parties under the sunny skies of Florida.

Wait, though: Florida? Ground Zero for much of the extreme anti-LGBTQ+ right's attacks on our families, our children, and rights to exist in public spaces?

That's right – Florida. The state might be a focus of Draconian policies designed to target and silence minority communities of every sort, including ours, but it is also home to the Nat. LGBTQ Task Force and its annual Winter Party Festival. Like they say, partying well is the best revenge – and if there's one thing our community knows how to do, it's come together in force to show that queer joy is unstoppable.

Michael Bath

"This annual event started in 1994 as a single dance party on the beach and has since evolved," the festival's website explains, "including events like Ignite on February 29th, Elevate Pool Party and HEAT on March 1st, Under One Sun at Oasis Wynwood on March 2nd, and the marquee event The Beach Party on March 3rd.

"For the LGBTQ+ community and allies, this is a great opportunity to enjoy community, rejuvenate, and recharge under Miami's golden sun," the site adds. "This year the official host hotel will be the Royal Palm South Beach Miami – an iconic 1930s Art Deco hotel on the beach."

The fight for equality is as expensive as it is unending, and money is a key ingredient to defending ourselves as individuals, families, and as a community. The Winter Party Festival is a major fundraising event to help power efforts to resist the legislative attacks pummeling our community. As the Task Force's Events Director, Michael Bath, tells EDGE, "We have donated to date $3.6 million back to local community from these events and they have issued grants to over 100 organizations."

All of which makes partying not just a right but a duty!

EDGE chatted with Michael Bath to find out more about the festival, and the group that puts it all together – the National LGBTQ Task Force.

An earlier Winter Party event

EDGE: The National LGBT to Task Force describes its mission as "advancing full freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people." Can you say a little what that means, and how the Task Force works toward those goals?

Michael Bath: What it means is we are doing everything to make sure that every member of the LGBTQ community is able to live their full lives, and they can take their whole self anywhere that anyone else could go. It's basically having the same rights, the same freedoms, the same privileges [as everyone else does].

One of the biggest ways we do that is we have a national conference called Creating Change that happens every January. It's a convening of activists from all around the country. We're a relatively small organization, so we can't be everywhere, but if we can train people – give them the skills that they need to fundraise, to recruit volunteers, to talk to legislators, to get out the vote – if we can train them to do that in their home communities, then our reach increases exponentially. So that's part of what we do with Creating Change, we help develop and train leaders. It's an exchange of information, an exchange of ideas.

What we're trying to do is go where folks aren't already organizing and bringing people together to train them on how to effect change in their communities. We also have a policy group that is based in Washington, and they work with legislators and legislative assistants to give them intel they might not otherwise have, give them perspectives that will help guide elected officials in making decisions that will support pro-gay, and vote against anti-gay, legislation.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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