“If Athens shall appear great to you,” wrote Pericles, “consider only that her glories were purchased by decent men doing their duty every day.”

For the third year, SFGN lends notoriety and acclaim to 50 significantly selected members of the LGBT community.

Our ‘Out 50’ has become newsworthy and noteworthy, and for good cause. We salute not just well-known champions for our causes but community members and common-place citizens whose daily deeds cements our standing in our neighborhoods, businesses, and government.

By no means, is this a list of the “best of the best.” This list is a cross-section of who we are and what we do; LGBT representatives whose voice and vision denote our cumulative contributions to the world we live in.

The annual SFGN ‘Out 50’ project is a yeoman’s task. We plan months in advance, sending out a team of reporters to line up the group photos and do the individual interviews. But I want to tell you why it is so important to all of us.

The LGBT community has been growing up the past few years. We are no longer a group of party boys dancing the night away, nor are we lesbians living domestic partnerships in the shadows. We are out, we are proud, and we damn well have a right to be. Our representatives marry, raise families, run businesses, serve in government, and fashionably participate in our community.

As your LGBT newspaper, it is our duty to illuminate those efforts, shine a light on the good deeds and great people who enrich our lives. Remember, there are presidential candidates still saying, sadly, here in 2016- that our love should be set by zip codes and determined by state legislators. We need to respond that our lives and our dreams are as viable as anyone else, anywhere else. We shall not be denied.

SFGN has now over three years interviewed and selected 150 nominees for our ‘Out 50.’ But let me say this. I have lived and worked in South Florida for 40 years, from Margaret Street in Key West to Victoria Park in Fort Lauderdale.  I have worked as a talk show host reaching Dade County and taught criminal justice at Florida Atlantic University in Palm Beach County. I have practiced law and sat as a traffic magistrate in Broward County.

What I am trying to say is that I have some history here. I was around in 1978 when Anita Bryant was trying to squeeze oranges and gay people. I am still here in 2016 to hear a charlatan named Donald Trump say he wants to roll back last year’s Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriages nationwide. Not going to happen.

Let me add this. I have met thousands of people within the LGBT community in, about, and around our shores. You all can’t be honored today, but so many of you have done so much to enhance the lives of our LGBT community. Be proud of your work. In days ahead, we hope we can find the space to record your history too.

There are so many more than 150 people who deserve the honor we afford today. Sadly, many are no longer here to be so named. Our community never had a newspaper strong and diverse enough to give them the recognition they deserved, though we were so fortunate to have in years past the Weekly News and Express Gay News.

As a gay community, we were lucky to have voices fighting for our lives against the ravages of AIDS. We were lucky to have early civil rights leaders campaigning for domestic partnership ordinances and challenging laws discriminating against us simply for being gay.

How bad was it? Well, just look at all the lawyer ads in our newspaper.  In 1976, when I moved here, homosexuality was considered a mental illness, you were criminally deviant, and could be denied a license to practice law if you admitted you were gay. Today, amongst our honorees is a gay federal prosecutor. In the past, we have named gay federal judges.

When you are 65, like I now am, Bob Dylan becomes your hero. He may have sung the ‘Times they are a changin’ in the 1960s. For the LGBT community, those times are here today, now and forevermore.

Be proud, my friends. We have been tested and endured. We have come a long way. Thank you for being part of the journey. May we continue on our road together, fighting for social justice and equal rights for all, because, after all is said and done, gay rights are human rights.