They have a motto in Key West: “One Human Family.” Coined by James Thompson — an HIV-positive activist, organizer, and designer — it represents Key West, the tiny island best known for its queer inclusiveness.
“Inclusiveness is part of our heritage,” one tour guide told me when I visited last August. Its embrace of diversity and willingness to set itself apart from the Florida mainland goes back to its origins as a haven for an eclectic blend of Native Americans, Spanish, freed slaves, seafarers (including pirates), queers, and creatives. The island known as the “southernmost point in the continental U.S.” sided with the North during the Civil War and later served as home to famous writers like Tennessee Williams, Ernest Hemingway, and Judy Blume.
The charm Key West offers is so unlike other Florida cities that many locals call it “Unflorida” and consider the island to be “more Caribbean than the United States.” Its reputation as a refuge for LGBT people has been reflected in local politics: The city was one of the first in the U.S. to elect an out gay mayor (Richard A. Heyman in 1983).