OpEd: A 2018 Open Letter to Our SFGN Readers

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South Florida has become the heartbeat and soul of a proud queer community.

The newspaper you hold in your hand has spent the last eight years and 400 issues illuminating LGBT lives. The paper is free. We only survive because of our advertising and the support of our readership and business community.

Many of our advertisers are gay owned and gay-friendly establishments. They are almost our silent partners. Their commitment helps get the paper to your door. The proprietors are professionals reaching out to you to share their pride and their products. It is my hope that you will support them as they do us.

I would like to think we are still here because those sponsors get bang for their buck. There is a reason we print over 10,000 copies weekly and have over 400 distribution points in 4 counties. People pick our paper up and read it. You rely on it, which is great. Thank you.

From our ‘best of’ issues to our ‘Out 50,’ we have become South Florida’s newspaper of record for the LGBT community. It’s no easy task. All of us who ever ran a business knows what it is like to encounter issues, face unsuspected obstacles and rise to challenges. That’s life.

Having said that, and reviewing this week’s paper, I really don’t know how many people give a damn that it is our 8th anniversary Thursday. It will be nice having a party at Hunter’s, but like most businessmen, I am more concerned about making payroll on Friday. In this emerging digital age, we are fortunate and grateful that we still can. In the meantime, enjoy the buffet from Beefcake’s. Heck, it’s free.

The truth is we thrive and survive because of who you are and what you do. Our writers simply breathe life into your achievements. Our paper catalogs our wins and our warts; when we succeed or how we may fail. That is our mission and our motivation.

A credible newspaper generating conscientious journalism is not here just to puff up how good we are. Our duty is to also share how careless we can be. Having said that, gay South Floridians have much they can be proud of.

From Key West to Palm Beach, there are LGBT citizens making a good home and successful living for themselves. Most importantly, we are finding ourselves at the core and center of those communities.

We are the mayors and the mentors, the makers and shakers populating all walks of life.

Because we are out and proud, there are no shadows for us to hide behind. What does that mean? It means that a good newspaper does not cover up the truth, it uncovers it. A popular myth in LGBT publications for years has been that we were under some sort of unwritten obligation to print just ‘good’ news. No, journalism, like life, does not work that way. You take the good with the bad.

The LGBT community has had to fight its way to equality. We have overcome a disease that could have destroyed us and a society that sought to demean us. We found out we were not the ones that needed electroshock therapy. We found out that bullying was bad and dignity for gender equality was right. We uncovered the truth that we were lied to for too long. Gay is good. Hate was bad.

A good gay newspaper has to expose lies and prove up the truth. We have to be more than a 2 for 1 special, so while you will find restaurant reviews on our pages, you will also read riveting stories of LGBT teen homelessness or meth addiction and alcoholism in the gay community.

Real news is not today’s invention. It has always been a newspaper’s calling, today as much as ever. This is no time to be complacent or comfortable. From the White House to the state House in Tallahassee, there are people in power who hate you and will hurt you. If they could, they would roll back rights you have won, protections you should have always have had. And a person named Caitlyn Jenner would never have been a Time cover story.

My parting message to you is what I tell my writers. Take nothing for granted. Question authority. Be ready to stand up and be counted when it counts. Be conscientious and diligent. Understand that one day you may be called upon to stand naked before a dragon. Blow him away. The freedom you save may be your own.


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