This year has been a turbulent one for the LGBT community in Florida and I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the right places at the right times in regard to a lot of the news items that have many of us on the edge of our seats. There are news items we can’t wait to leave behind (Dove World Outreach) and others that we know we’re going to be dealing with for quite some time (Repealing DADT). However, there is something to be said for taking a step back and pulling out those rose-tinted glasses on occasion too. Here are the 10 pieces I’ve worked on that I find to be most noteworthy:
1. The ADAP Waiting List – The AIDS Drug Assistance Program experienced cutbacks in the Florida State budget and at the same time, federal state moneys had not increased enough to cover a rising number of people who are testing HIV positive in the Sunshine State. Not everyone can be covered by the program designed to help low/middle income persons afford their expensive HIV medications.
2. It Gets Better – When the mainstream media took notice of the gay suicides problem (for about a week or two), they learned what we’ve always known in the gay press – that young gay people in America are deeply troubled and need to be loved and shown encouragement. Even still, when CNN and MSNBC magnified the issue and gave us an in-depth look at the lives of some whom had been lost; it was a very emotional experience for all of us. At SFGN, we can help by offering information about vital services and networks that want to help make things better.
3. Gay Men’s Chorus Christmas – Who knew that writing a nice review about a local chorus that’s been in business for 30 years could be such a controversial move? Well, it turns out that my first foray into writing an arts review was met with tons of personal attacks and misgivings because some people are still very sore about a recent break-up in the chorus. Nonetheless, I stand by my opinion that the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus had an outstanding holiday performance and I enjoyed it very much:
4. 8 Activists in South Florida – There are a number of people in our area who work tirelessly to make Florida a better, nicer and more equal place for the LGBT community. In this article, I’ve highlighted just 8 of these trailblazers.
5. Interview: Shirley Phelps-Roper on Uganda – One of the most maddening news items on a global level – the human rights violations in Uganda – is most ironically put into perspective by one of America’s most notorious haters, Shirley Phelps-Roper. Roper, as it turns out, has just as much contempt for the haters as she does the hated.
6. Genealogy Not Just For Straights – With all of the propaganda from conservative groups regarding their definition of “family”, there is a movement of LGBT persons who are securing their place in their own family tree – literally. Here, I reveal that you can kick a gay person out of your family but you can’t take a bloodline out of that gay person.
7. Blog: Julian Assange, World Net Daily – Our SFGN blogs are great places for our writers to muse about their personal and opinionated perspectives on current issues or daily life. While the dramatic “Wiki-leaks” saga quickly ascended into the category of “news story of the year”, there was a gay angle on the story that only the most radical conservatives were discussing… until I blogged about it too.
8. Gay Environmentalism – After the BP oil spill had been gushing into the gulf for days and then weeks on end, Florida was scared. Very little attention and money had been paid toward dealing with this kind of disaster and many of us looked to our local greenies to offer some perspective. What we found is that, contrary to conventional wisdom, there are gays and lesbians in South Florida who do care about the environment.
9. Blanche Lincoln Facebook Attack – A Democratic “Blue Dog” Senator from Arkansas became a favorite punching bag for the gay community on the social networking giant Facebook when she helped Republicans to avoid cloture on a defense appropriations bill. That bill included a repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The irony of this story is that even after she lost re-election, she was given a final opportunity to right the wrongs of her past – but she missed that vote too because of a dental appointment.
10. Coral Ridge Ministries Listed As Hate Group / Smart List includes Butterfly World - When Pastor Tchividian took over Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, a group of angry conservatives defected from the church because of what they saw as a liberalization of the church. That group, forced to hold their services and meetings at Butterfly World (owned by one of the members) created a rabidly anti-democratic and anti-gay organization called Coral Ridge Ministries. CRM landed on the radar of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) this year as a possible “Hate Group”.