Miami Celebrates Pride: Creating a Safe Space for LGBT+ Youth

June 29, 2018

Jessica Morales, 23, was born and raised in Coral Springs, Florida. She received her Bachelor’s in Communicational Studies degree and a minored in commercial music business from Florida Atlantic University. While attending FAU, Jessica participated in a volunteer excursion to Nicaragua, where she helped establish and build an eco-friendly infrastructure and school. Jessica is currently pursuing her career in music, but in her free time, she enjoys baking, going on adventures, listening to live music, and cuddling with her cat, Zuko.

The Miami Heat are a basketball team commonly known for its athletic players, dedicated fans, and having one of the longest winning streaks in NBA history. Now, for a second year in a row, they are also the proud hosts of the “HEAT Loud and Proud” event. “HEAT Loud and Proud” is the dance party of a lifetime; a night for all of South Florida, especially the LGBT+ community, to come together and celebrate life and diversity.

The dance party took place at the Xfinity East Plaza in the American Airlines Arena, overlooking the Biscayne Bay and beautiful city skyline. “HEAT Loud and Proud” was one of the many free events hosted during Miami Beach Gay Pride week. As longtime supporters of the LGBT+ community, the Miami Heat was moved by the tragic events of the PULSE nightclub shooting to host a safe space for LGBT+ individuals to have fun and celebrate their pride.

Adorned in a twinkling rainbow of lights and equally colorful individuals to match, the “HEAT Loud and Proud” event included delicious bites, music, entertainment, and an appearance from Burnie the Miami Heat mascot and dancers to pump up the party.

Aside from the fun festivities, the shining light of the event was kindness and acceptance. During the event, the Miami Heat made a generous financial donation to the Aqua Foundation for Women, an organization that supports the lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in South Florida through grants, scholarships, and mentoring. Aqua Foundation for Women also supports other initiatives for LGBT+ youth experiencing homelessness.

Born This Way Foundation was also fortunate and proud to be spreading kindness at the event where Channel Kindness reporters Kelbin Ramirez, Joshua Hollin, and myself encouraged others to write letters of positivity to LGBT+ youth. According to the 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report, 43 percent of LGBT+ youth have been bullied on school property in the last year. Overall, the lack of support and acceptance LGBT+ youth experience from parents, school, and peers result in them being at greater risk for depression, suicide, and substance use. In fact, approximately 77 percent of of LGBT+ youth reported feeling depressed or down.

Support, encouragement, and acceptance are paramount for creating a safe space for LGBT+ youth to thrive and live happy fulfilling lives. To help do this, we asked people at the event to write letters of positivity and encouragement to LGBT+ youth and offer hope that through the pain, it does get better. The letters are being sent to Pridelines in Miami and Be the Change in Oklahoma City, organizations that empower  LGBT+ youth in their communities.

The “HEAT Loud and Proud” annual event provides individuals from all different orientations the opportunity to come together and dance the night away in a safe space. Providing support is crucial for LGBT+ youth to feel love and acceptance. Organizations like the Miami Heat’s “HEAT Loud and Proud” are just one of the many setting an example for others to light the path of celebration of pride and diversity.

If you want to get involved, find ways to help your local LGBT+ organizations. Volunteer, donate, or spread the message of their missions so others can find them as a resource and support them as well!

If you need help or are in crisis, resources are available:

The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386

Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860

The National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255

Teen Line: 310-855-4673

GLBT National Youth Talkline: 800-246-7743

Crisis Text Line:

More resources at