OpEd: Reflecting on the Issues of My Life

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‘To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, that thou cannot be false to any man.” 

-Shakespeare’s Hamlet  

I don’t think growing up as a kid playing stickball in New York City I ever expected to spend a quarter of my professional life publishing a gay newspaper in South Florida, but here I am, ending the year 2016, having done just that. 

Graduating from Hofstra School of Law in Hempstead, New York, in 1975, I have now spent 40 years as an attorney. Between publishing the Express Gay News from 1999-2004, and now SFGN, from 2010-1016, ten of those years have been involved with the LGBT press. 

First, let me say that I am proud to be part of a community that has spent decades asserting its rights, fighting for its freedoms, and working to build a world that is diverse and inclusive, often against all odds and opponents.  

I like to think our paper is still here with you because we have given you a voice with a conscience, journalism with credibility, and a communications vehicle that illuminates our community, warts and wounds, wins and losses. This year, we certainly endured some losses, didn’t we? Still, we will survive. 

Speaking of survival, I won’t kid you. Publishing a print newspaper in a digital age of smart phones and tablets isn’t the wisest business model in the world. But there is a truth that still speaks out, and it is heard in civilized communities across the world. We like things we can hold in our hands and trust, and that includes newspapers and magazines. 

For SFGN to keep publishing, we still have to meet our payroll, pay our printer, and fill our tax obligations to the IRS. It isn’t easy, because, in case you haven’t noticed, our paper is still free. You don’t pay anything for it, and there are not many things in this world you can say that about. As my Italian business partner once remarked, “if these writers you have are called freelancers, why do they get paid?” 

The fact is we are here still today because the LGBT business community and straight entrepreneurs all over South Florida have continued to believe, and invest, in us, and what we do. Today, they are owed thanks, special thanks. If our paper still stands today, it’s because of the leap of faith you took yesterday.  

We haven’t thrown dance parties. We did not sell you phony stock. We did not brag we were part of a billion dollar industry. We never promised you a rose garden. Our only agenda was presenting you a damn good newspaper. I would like to think I have succeeded for a decade ‘selling’ you a free paper because I have done just that. 

If we have made it, it’s because dentists like Howard Cunningham at Oakland Park Dental and attorneys like George Castrataro at GLC Law placed their advertising dollars in our paper on day one, and have stayed the course for six years and over 300 issues, through controversy and criticism. 

It’s because if you pick up our first issue from January of 2010, to our last issue of 2016, you will see ads from Robin Bodiford, the pioneer lesbian attorney; from Big Al and Kevin of American Tax, and John Castelli, whose real estate offices have emerged in stature, as has he in the industry. And those people are still with us today, in our Mirror Magazine, the Guide to the Drive, and SFGN. 

It’s because my friend Victor Zepka, advertised the Boardwalk, and its boys, in our very first issue, as he does still today, now showcasing his restaurant, Beefcakes, as well. And it’s because clients and friends like Sean David, have stood by promoting their nightclubs and business ventures, like Le Boy and his new Late Nite Liquor Store. 

It’s knowing that other buddies, like your business partner, and CEO, Pierre Guidugli, or your good friends, like Paul Hugo, at the Manor, or Howard Marr, at Fabscout, have your back when you need it, because there are days like that. Momma said there would be. There are. 

And it’s meeting new friends like Joe Pallant, who understands the importance of having an independent gay press even in a community run by a gay government. 

It’s knowing that if you get called away from the paper professionally, to try a case, or get sick personally, you have a staff that can put out the paper without you, from my Executive Editor, Jason Parsley, or my youthful and amazingly talented graphic designer, Brendon Lies.  

Your staff and your friends provide you cover for your carelessness. It’s seeing dedication, like our offce manager Tim Higgins, coming in this past weekend, with colleagues, on their own, and painting the office on a holiday weekend. Wow.  

It’s knowing also that so many in our community and the arts from theaters to funeral parlors, have underwritten our product. It’s  knowing that I have a sales team of guys like Mike Trottier  and Justin Wyse market the paper full time locally.We are also supported by Rivendell Media in Mountainside, New Jersey, led by Todd Evans. They have a great team, supporting and promoting our vision nationally. 

It’s knowing that the AIDS Healthcare Foundation stands by us, for we publish the most HIV news-driven publication in South Florida. It’s knowing that we have a shared vision of promoting a safer same sex community, where we can work towards the day AIDS will be a distant memory, not an annual tribute to those lost.  

It’s knowing that our paper is able to give life to our non profit community, from Compass to the Pride Center, from Poverello to SunServe, with their informative and entertaining inserts, showcasing the good deeds they do so often and in so many places. 

It’s knowing that you have a team of stringers and part timers that believe in who we are full time, and turn in newer ads and better stories each week, hoping to shed light on our lives a story at a time.  

And there have been over 20,000 printed on these pages in the past six years, online and in print. With your advertising support, with your help, with your faith, there will be more to come. 

Now leave me the hell alone. I just got in the mail a monstrous quarterly payroll tax payment request from the IRS, which is due before the end of the year. Oh yeah, the joys of being a publisher. 


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