Date of Award

Spring 2018

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts


Lisa Tillmann

Committee Member

Margaret McLaren

Committee Member

Nolan Kline


Since Orlando’s first gay bar, The Palace Club, opened in 1969, LGBTQ+ spaces have played an essential role in the Orlando queer community. They have acted as loci of gathering, solidarity, identity-formation, recreation, and even healing. There is an absence of literature on the LGBTQ+ community in Orlando and, more generally, in Central Florida as a whole. The legacy of LGBTQ+ spaces in Orlando is worthy of study due both to the city’s rich queer history and Orlando’s singular experience of the deadliest act of hate-motivated violence against the LGBTQ+ community in the history of the United States. Through documenting the experiences and stories of LGBTQ+ Orlandoans, this thesis seeks to build upon existing in-depth, interview-based qualitative studies of localized LGBTQ+ communities. Key themes that emerged throughout the interviews included the social and political importance of LGBTQ+ spaces, their role in the identity formation of queer individuals, the importance of transient LGBTQ+ spaces such as pride parades and vigils, and the need for more woman-centric LGBTQ+ bars and clubs. In a post-Pulse context, interviewees emphasized their conflicting relationship with LGBTQ+ bars and clubs both as sources of renewed trauma and of potential healing, identified the Pulse massacre as a catalyst to social and political change, and stressed the importance of LGBTQ+ organizations and resources alongside the positive impact of community resilience after the shooting.

Rights Holder

Hannah Powell