In a world where LGBTQ+ individuals still face discrimination and prejudice, WUSF multimedia reporter Daylina Miller’s new radio program Queer Spaces offers a refreshing perspective on the celebration of queerness in the Tampa Bay region and the importance of safe queer spaces. Miller, a queer journalist and storyteller, has worked in public radio for over a decade and is no stranger to covering LGBTQ+ issues. However, with Queer Spaces, they aim to explore the diverse range of places and experiences that create a sense of community for queer individuals.
“I’ve had a connection to the queer community since I was fairly young…and I really didn’t have the words until I was a little bit older,” Miller said. “I came out as non-binary three years ago and really started exploring my gender identity and terminology for how I have always felt.”
Miller explains the journey and the struggles that their identity comes with. In recent years, the rise of the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, bans on gender affirming care and more have made Florida into an epicenter for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation
“Last year I started a series called Trans Joy to have an antidote to the misinformation, disinformation, the negative news— the things that we needed to cover, that were important to cover, like these bills,” Miller explained. “I didn’t want trans people, especially young trans people, to see the news and be like, ‘Being trans is a terrible thing,’ or cis people to see the news and think, ‘If being trans is so awful, why be trans?’ Then why do people live as their authentic selves and risk the hate that can come with that?”
After sending out a Google Form asking those near the Tampa and St. Petersburg areas to share what trans joy meant to them, the interviews Miller collected were presented in the form of “audio postcards,” which introduce the host series and then move into four-to-five minute discussions from a multitude of participants about what trans and queer joy mean to them.
“I had trans artists, people talking about the intersection of trans joy and black joy,” Miller continued. “I had someone talk about how expressing themselves through clothing and starting conversations with people on the street about what they were wearing was a source of joy. So I wanted to continue to do this work this year, because the legislation has amped up and people are scared.”
Miller spoke about the tense state of affairs that surround not just trans rights, but the LGBTQ+ community as a whole.
“These attacks are not just on the trans community, but the larger LQBTQ+ community, and I wanted to do something that was along the lines of queer joy in general,” they said. “So we chose this idea of queer spaces where the community gathers. Whether it is pop up events, ongoing events or redefining what community and spaces even mean—we really wanted to showcase some of these organizations and people doing the work to create the safe spaces where people can live authentically.”
Continuing, Miller explains the importance of the show as a means to keep the community educated on their local resources and gathering spaces.
“It’s what’s going on in our communities at this grassroot level, to elevate and amplify that queer joy,” they said. “I don’t consider it ‘fluffy’ because it’s humanizing people. It’s a nice reprieve from the bad news, but trans joy and queer joy is an act of resistance in the face of all these laws, and so, this is how I resist.”
In the first episode of Queer Spaces, released on Mar. 10, Miller explores a local LGBTQ+ beginners’ skate night at a skate park in Tampa. With nearly 40 people in attendance, the space gave room for the queer community to engage with each other in ways that they may not have access to normally.
“I wanted to create a space where queer individuals could feel heard and validated,” Miller said. “It’s important to showcase the spaces and communities that have been created for and by queer folks. These spaces provide a sense of safety and belonging that is essential for our wellbeing.”
In addition to highlighting safe queer spaces, Queer Spaces also celebrates the beauty and diversity of queerness. Miller plans to showcase different cultural events, and explore the intersectionality of queerness with other marginalized communities.
“I want to celebrate queerness in all its forms,” Miller said. “It’s important to show the world that being queer is not just about sexuality but also about culture, identity and community.”
With Queer Spaces, Miller has created a program that offers a much-needed perspective on queer life and community. As the program continues to grow and evolve, it has the potential to become a powerful voice for the LGBTQ+ community and an important resource for those seeking safe and supportive spaces.