Aqua Foundation Looking Inward After Internal Strife

Photo via Mateo A. Ventura Bruer, LinkedIn.

After months of backlash from one social media post on a personal account, Aqua Foundation for Women is working to get back on track and move past the discussion. They have tentatively set April 10 at R House as the new date for their Aqua Affair fundraiser.

The event was postponed after their executive director, Mateo Ventura Bruer, went on his own social media calling for an immediate cease fire between Israel and Hamas after the Oct. 7 attacks. The problem stemmed from a hashtag on the post that some people interpret as a call for genocide of Israelis and Jewish people.

Aqua responded with a strongly worded statement, saying, “Aqua Foundation for Women apologizes for the offense caused by a hashtag used in our Executive Director's recent personal post about the Palestine-Israel conflict.”

The controversy riled the LGBTQ community and others, and the war remains a topic of heated debate. Bruer’s post is still pinned to his page, however the controversial hashtag has been removed.

He told OutSFL that he had no idea what the phrase meant and removed that part. Still, insiders at Aqua tell us that there have been a series of ongoing meetings involving Bruer, board members, and others.

“The organization is doing some introspection,” he said.

Aqua is the only organization in Florida serving LGBTQ women at this level, and last year Bruer became the first trans man to lead the group. Now, in addition to the everyday duties of carrying out their mission, he is also leading Aqua through this crisis.

Part of that is internal anti-racism training and a community survey to see what people want from the organization.

“Who are we serving, and what are their needs? Also, there is very little research into queer women,” he said.

In addition to rescheduling Aqua Affair, their annual family barbecue is still set for March 3 at the main pavilion in Virginia Key Beach Park. They will also have a team in the AIDS Walk. Aside from those major events, Aqua is scaling back other activities until they have a better feel for what the community wants.


Aqua Foundation Gets Backlash After Apologizing for ED’s Ceasefire Post


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