OpEd: Pride Means Never Having to Say You Are Sorry

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As the publisher of the South Florida Gay News, I have to say thank you this week to a number of people and groups. Bear with me. Thank you speeches can be boring. Today’s should not be.

First of all, SFGN is printing this week the largest LGBT newspaper in America, at 100 pages. As a free paper, we can only do that because you support us with your advertising dollars. 

After 8 years of printing SFGN, I am smart enough to realize you don’t do that because we are a charity. We are not. We are a for profit corporation, and serving the LGBT community of South Florida is our mission and purpose. We do it with original reporting, honest journalists, credible columnists, and skilled advertising salespeople, genuine with our product and our performance. 

Our paper features legitimate and real news, exposing our warts and our wounds, our wins and our victories. We affiliate with CNN and the Sun-Sentinel, the First Amendment Foundation, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. We are a member of the National Gay Media Association.

We have much to be thankful for in our corner of the world. Miami Beach pride this weekend will give you a sense of it, as Fort Lauderdale and Lake Worth pride have done so over the past month. We live in a community where gay life has not only emerged, it is treasured and accepted. We live in a place where your own life can be celebrated and not censored. Nor will this paper ever be.

Even so, this week, our newspaper breaks novel ground. In the midst of this remarkable issue is a multi-page tribute to the transgender community. Co-created by Jillian Melero, SFGN’s Associate Editor, and created and designed by Brendon Lies, SFGN’s art director, the stories, the art, and the game board they created pay homage to the burdens and blessings a transgender individual faces in our world today.

Thanks in part to Sunny.org, and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Business Bureau, we also host in the fall the Southern Comfort Conference, shining a positive light on our growing transgender population. We all do our part. Last week, our OUT50 honored so many of you who do so much. If you missed it, visit SFGN.com/2017out50 to read up on the LGBT individuals making a difference in our community. 

This week, Dave Cook and the Miami Beach pride army of volunteers get to showcase their international message. Advertisers from all over the country, from Macy’s to pharmaceuticals, have joined with us in promoting this event. 

It’s our time to shine.

These corporations advertising on our pages or underwriting pride events are sending a message to local businesses and political leaders that LGBT lives matter. 

We always have and always will. 

Today, though, we are mainstream and middle of the road; equal in rights and stature to the rest of the world. 

We are not just ‘queers’ anymore. Never should have been in the first place, and to prove that we will join in a national equality march on June 11 with our own South Florida celebrations, marking our corner of the world with pride and passion. It’s who we are.

Last week’s issue, promoting the fourth annual OUT50 was also a testament to the will and work ethic of our staff. Jason Parsley’s effort in creating this annual popular feature celebrated the lives of so many who enrich and enhance our culture and community. He is one hell of an Associate Publisher.

Florida itself is growing in stature and recognition. Orlando and St. Petersburg have stunning LGBT communities, and next month Harvey Milk Diversity Honors Awards will be showcased in both venues. Whether it a Hurricane Showdown national softball tournament, or a Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, we have lives in South Florida like few places on this globe. In Eastern Europe, gays are fighting for their lives. We are fighting for a 2 for 1 night.

Our newspaper suffers from an embarrassment of riches. We have so many people doing so many things in so many places, sometimes we slip up. Allyson Thomas is the remarkable director and founder of Miss Florida International, whose pageant runs again this year in Orlando on April 16. Miss Allyson should have been so identified last week, but it was our error.

Being human is a privilege, not an excuse. Our community has no excuses to make to anyone. There are gay athletes playing in major league parks, lesbian professionals serving as jurists, and transgender persons laying out amazing newspapers like ours. Hopefully, all of these lives will one day be featured on our pages or in the OUT50.

There were lines at Fort Lauderdale pride, and there will be problems on Miami Beach this weekend. We can’t all expect everything and everyone to run perfectly on all four cylinders. But let’s do our best, working closely together, on common goals and mutual interests. We salute the volunteers of Miami Beach pride, pay tribute to their astounding effort, but we will report on their shortcomings if they so occur.

The duty of a newspaper is to be honest and report the truth, wherever it may lead to. It does not matter if you run an AIDS foundation or marvelous nightclub. Like Spiderman said, ‘with power comes responsibility.’ We all have an obligation to live honorably and make a difference for good. 

For almost 8 years, this newspaper has committed to doing that for you, being conscientious, concerned, and committed to giving you straight facts and gay news- thus the dual moniker for SFGN.

National advertising agencies like Rivendell have embraced us, local professionals, from car dealers to attorneys advertise with us, and scores of restaurants and realtors populate our pages. Please support them as they do us. They help bring you the paper you are holding in your hand.

Still, SFGN is in the 21st century. You can read us online at SFGN.com, get our eblasts, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter. The Mirror Magazine is also ours, and you can find the Food and Wine Issue on the stands now. Our other publication ‘The Guide,’ your complete reference to what’s hot in Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale and beyond. Make sure you check it out in June.

Ours is a good life. Let’s keep it that way.


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