Op-Ed: The ‘Out 50’ is a Salute to All of You

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Stuart Milk, founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation, Deidra Bergmann, activist/volunteer, and Terry DeCarlo, Director of Development at Broward House

The South Florida LGBT community is simply too large to recognize only three leaders for achievements in excellence.

As 2013 came to a close, and SFGN sought to single out some of our leaders with awards for achievement in excellence, I realized how blessed this community was, and how burdened this newspaper was in making such a choice. There was simply no vehicle within which we could recognize everyone in South Florida so deserving. We did not have three people to stand out; we had three hundred, maybe more.

The “Out 50 is a journalistic adventure unprecedented in size and scope for a weekly community newspaper. It is the kind of thing that the Miami Herald, Sun Sentinel, and Palm Beach Post could never do simultaneously. This week, SFGN has a separate cover for each of our three counties, featuring ‘Out’ stars from each venue. As a niche publication targeting and serving the LGBT community, we are able to give life and breadth to a community of champions at once and collectively.

The “Out 50” project was months in the planning. Special recognition is warranted. Jason Parsley, our Associate Publisher, managed the monumental task and monitored the marvelous effort. A half dozen writers and photographers had to come together for interviews. David Griffiths brought his artistic skills to place in the layout and design. It is our first. There will be many more. There has to be. There are many more of you who are ‘out’ there.

Have you heard the phrase that when you point a finger at someone, three more are pointing back at you? In other words, I know how many people we have left out of the ’50.’ It is the marvel of our community that so many more individuals with collateral stature and leadership credentials could have easily been incorporated into this list. Your turn will come.

Over four years, SFGN has featured hundreds of personalities with thousands of articles. Our mission evolves, as your purpose endures. If we did not catch up to yet, we will. Our goal has been to illuminate the good lives and honorable deeds so many of you accomplish each day with your professional work and passionate concern. This past year, we celebrated the achievements in excellence of three people in particular.

First, Stuart Milk, the nephew of Harvey, has become a global ambassador for LGBT rights internationally for President Obama. Second, Terry DeCarlo, whose boundless energy symbolizes the remarkable tenacity so many of you have achieved in fighting against HIV. Third, we acknowledged Dr. Deidra Bergmann, a retired physician whose continuing volunteerism for multiple causes represents the noble deeds of giving. Now look through these pages and find 50 more persons whose individualism and integrity honors us all. Their good deeds shine on our entire community.

Let me close with some notes of personal reflection. Ten years ago, when the Sun Sentinel listed Broward County’s 25 most significant powerbrokers, they included me, largely because I represented much of the emerging gay community as the publisher of the Express Gay News. Because so many of you have so generously supported SFGN, I can deliver today to our media partners at the Sun Sentinel and CNN not just another profile of tired old me, but fifty of our outstanding citizens. As I said, that’s just the beginning. Oh, there are so many more to yet include.

Thanks to you, the South Florida Gay News is again the largest gay paper in the country this week, with more pages and content than even the Washington Blade or Windy City Times. That has only happened because you have invested in us for four years. Today, therefore, as SFGN celebrates its fourth anniversary, I re-commit to you that we will continue to uphold high standards, publishing each and every issue with passion and professionalism, credibility and conscientiousness.

My life’s experience of being a journalist and radio commentator has been richly rewarding. It brings you to the front door of celebrity on one hand, and calamity on the other. In one moment, you are talking with a gubernatorial candidate who is reaching for the reins of power, and at the other interviewing a father who just lost his son to HIV.

One afternoon in 2001 I interviewed a scam artist who tried to falsely acquire 9/11 benefits, and wound up in jail. Later that same day, I chatted with the former Vice President of the United States. Journalism affords you an amazing journey through life. I am privileged to have spent many years walking in its corridors.

In this capacity, as publisher, I have watched the LGBT community grow exponentially in size and stature, prestige and influence. This is especially true in South Florida, where so many of our colleagues and friends are open and out. Members of our community are leaders in every walk of life. We hold elective office, run corporations, manage businesses, and operate law firms. Today, our newspaper celebrates fifty such lives. Tomorrow, I hope we recognize yours.

There may be backlashes in Kansas and mindless laws passed in Arizona, but there will forever be a proud and prominent gay community in South Florida. We have shown America, as I have said so often, we are a part of the community, not apart from it. We are measured by our accomplishments in the daytime, not our bedroom partners in the nighttime. We have shown LGBT people can fight in our armed forces, raise children, teach in our schools, play in pro sports, lead major corporations, and overcome adversity at every turn.

I am proud today to deliver to you SFGN’s first Out 50.’ May you live your lives in such a way that you will find your way onto our pages in the next go around, and may we find you if you don’t find us.

When you add the names of Bergmann, DeCarlo and Milk to the mix, we will have in fact honored 53 this year.

It is getting redundant, but the panorama of names who could have been added invades my mind incessantly. Please do not feel left out. There is room for everybody within this enlarging circle. As long as we all continue to make a difference in the lives of our community, the ‘Out 50’ will grow and grow. Thank you.

Visit SFGN.com/OUT50nominations to nominate a South Florida LGBT person for next year’s OUT50 list.


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