In this special issue of our newspaper, in words and pictures, we showcase the array of nightclubs, bars and hospitality establishments, which populate our community.

Since the inception of SFGN, we pride ourselves on delivering to you credible content and quality journalism, about the issues of our day, not the parties of our night. However, the hospitality establishments our community hosts have been the epicenter of gay rights and social activism for decades. When there is a Christmas party for Kids in Distress or a fundraiser for the Smart Ride, they seek popular social venues to promote them. For decades, it has been bar owners who have opened their doors and pocketbooks to help just causes- from fighting for HIV awareness, to advocating equal rights for our community.

Consequently, whether it was Scoop Magazine under the aegis of Brad Casey 20 years ago, or Hotspots run by Peter Clark, today, the pictures you see are more than just shirtless guys hoisting cocktails. They are of our community not only at play, but often pushing a good and noble purpose. In fact, it is Hotspots which annually throws one of the community’s biggest holiday fundraisers at the Discovery Center underwriting the good deeds of Broward House.

On these pages of SFGN, we salute Hotspots for simply doing each week what it does. As an entertainment guide, it is unsurpassed. Two decades in the making, and with distribution points all over the state, Hotspots is the premiere vehicle that showcases the nightlife of our community. It deserves to be heralded.

Our community and our nightclub establishments have hosted scores of fundraisers for HIV, memorials for leading members of our community, full-fledged cabaret shows starring drag queens volunteering their time for charitable causes, and just fun karaoke nights for your birthday parties. We have decorated our lives with music and stage shows, often funding gay causes, political candidates, and non-profits. Those bars, too, deserve to be heralded. We do so today.

Mona’s hosts an annual fundraiser for pets, the Alibi has underwritten scores of LGBT softball teams and charities, and the Boardwalk and Sidelines donate thousands of dollars in liquor for pride events in south Florida. One Christmas party at the Manor last year raised over $50,000 for toys for tots. Our bars have been bulwarks of our community. Bill’s Filling Station holds an annual underwear party that clothes local HIV charities with green dollar bills they desperately need. Hunter’s, just new to our community, is helping underwrite Wicked Manors on Wilton Drive next week for the Pride Center. No, we can’t list all, but all give some.

You see, for years, all the gay community had to rely on for organizational unity was our bars and nightclubs, and many have stood tall. Today, as the LGBT community of America has grown, we have a national lesbian and gay task force, pride centers, and pet projects. We have seniors in a gay environment and impulse groups led by organizations such as the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. We have OurFund, the Smart Ride, and a host of new ways to foster social awareness. Nightclubs and bars still give these good groups a venue to spread their advocacy. Without the help of hospitality establishment and owners reaching into their pockets, we would not be where we are now.

While today’s issue of SFGN just provides snippets and vignettes about many of our nightclubs, remember also that in the gay community they have always done more than just sell liquor. They have provided safe havens for us to congregate, meet people, cultivate relationships, and reward our charitable agencies. Yes, occasionally we may have partied too hardy and stayed too long, but owning a gay bar has also meant being a voice for the LGBT community, not just a filling station for a 2 for 1 night.

Today, SFGN salutes the people and publications that have showcased these causes for so long. Over the years of our developing growth and stature as a community, what the bars have done at nighttime have helped all of us achieve the things we now have and often take for granted in the daytime.

Let’s say thank you with a toast to them. And call Yellow Cab for a safe ride home.