OpEd: LGBT Lives Laced with Energy and Opportunity

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Photo by Brendon Lies.

There is a reason South Florida, greater Fort Lauderdale, and Wilton Manors has become the epicenter of gay life in the U.S., particularly in the winter months. While the nation begins to freeze, things heat up here daily.

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and there is so much in our lives to celebrate, and it’s not just the Long Island Ice Tea Nights Thursday at the Alibi.

Our friends at Hunter’s, Rumors, and a host of local establishments are hosting parties, charity events, and holiday specials. Everywhere you go, there is mistletoe madness. This newspaper barely has the staff to cover the breadth and diversity of events playing out in our lives daily.

Last weekend, on the heels of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts winning a Best of award for theater, it opened The Phantom sequel, ‘Love Never Dies’ at its theater.

They also announced the remarkable musical “School of Rock’ is coming our way for Christmas. The New World Symphony this weekend is hosting a cosmic vision, ‘Pulse’, a night in neon. There is something for everyone everywhere.

Down the block from SFGN, the Empire Stage on Flagler Avenue, in a smaller venue, kicked off a new and funny show in its intimate 60 seat venue, ‘GRINDR, The Opera.’ There is some music you want to hear.

The Island City Stage also just opened its own new audacious black comedy, “HIR’, to sold out Dixie Highway crowds last Thursday. It will be playing through December 10.

This past weekend, Pier 66 hosted Equality Florida’s annual Broward fundraiser, which this year honored Greg Louganis, our own star Olympic swimmer. One of the guests at the sponsorship reception hosted by John Evans and Steve Wozencraft’s magnificent home on Barcelona Isle was attorney George Castrataro, shaking hands and making the rounds as a newly announced candidate for the District 2 City commission seat in Fort Lauderdale.

Last night, Broward County Judge Robert Lee hosted an event at the Stonewall Museum, documenting the history of discrimination-against gay lawyers in Florida years ago.

Meanwhile, this afternoon community leader and a citizen advocate, Joe Pallant will host an open barbecue at his insurance firm in Wilton Manors, sharing information to insure you get your fair share of a settlement after Hurricane Irma.

We just had nationally known activist Cleve Jones, the founder of the AIDS Quilt, make an appearance at the World AIDS Museum, where he presented Jasmin Shirley with a well deserved award for her longtime contributions to the HIV/ADS populations in Broward County.

Next week, bars in the Manors will be just as electric, as Mills Pond Field hosts another National Hurricane Showdown softball tournament with over 750 contestants participating from around the nation competing for softball gold.

This followed a record turnout in numbers just two weeks ago for the ‘Wicked Manors’ Halloween event that swarmed the drive with costume and color.

Monday evening, despite a little rain, marked the delightful return of ‘Taste of the Island’ to Richardson Park in the Manors, a festive culinary feast showcasing a score of restaurants featuring some of their finest samples of sensuous succulence. I mean, broiled sirloin from Chima, White Russians from Bravo, and pastries from Angelo’s Bakery Bar. Another yeoman’s effort put out by Geoff Sterling of Sterling Accounting and the city.

Only a week ago, the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival kicked off with Burt Reynolds as a featured honoree. And The Floridian Restaurant on East Las Olas, open 24/7, was packed every morning as tourists from all over the world filled the marinas for our world famous boat show, which kept Joshua Petty’s and his ‘Boys with Boats’ Facebook page darn busy.

Large and small, events and opportunities fall into our laps and cross our lives on a daily basis in South Florida, especially for our thriving LGBT community, getting ready to commemorate World AIDS Day again shortly, on December 1.

In the interim, the Dolphin Democratic Club will be paying tribute to a collection of pioneer gay and straight-ally activists at Cafe Vico next week.

Abandoned Pet Rescue just held a benefit for its adoption program in a nearby gallery. If you have pets, enjoy Snyder Park or Tiger Tail Beach with them on almost any day of the week. Or were you one of the smart people to participate in Stork’s Coffee Bar’s chocolate and pastry filled anniversary party last weekend?

How about joining Packy’s Bar and Grill in Boca tomorrow night as they raise money for the Olympic Heights Community High School autism unit? Lift a finger and light up a life.

Our lives are enriched by so many choices, and I just heard Hard Rock Stadium, beautifully renovated, just won an award of distinction for their venue. I will be there this Sunday for the Dolphins-Buccaneers game. Of course, the Dolphins this year are doing a slow burn, which of course allows me to end this column by suggesting you rush out to the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center’s Slow Burn Theater and catch “Peter and the Star Catcher there or at the Broadway Center.

My point is this.

Don’t sit on your arse. Get thee to a theater, club, ballpark, beach, or movie, including the Gateway for ‘Tom of Finland.’ There is so much to do here, and while a lot of it is sitting and watching others do it, those experiences will enhance your lives, expand your friendships, and provide music for your soul.

Those who bring sunshine to others can’t help but bring it back to themselves. Make your holidays special.

 


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