I am sitting in an office with 12 computers, 10 staffers. 5 salespeople, copy machines, water fountains and dozens of newspapers. Desks are cluttered with news copy, advertising contracts, interoffice memos and jelly beans from ‘To The Moon Marketplace.’ The parking lot is overcrowded with cars, and my lab, Shadow, is by my side.
Frankly, it is hard to believe this office at 2520 North Dixie Highway in Wilton Manors was an empty shell 3 years ago, but here we are 156 issues of SFGN later, and it’s time to renew our lease. To the mix we have added The Mirror, and this week we’re publishing the sixth issue of our glossy, quarterly magazine. As newspapers crumble and close across the country, our business model is expanding. In an economy too much in the red, we are fortunately in the black.
At 76 pages a few weeks ago, SFGN was bigger than New York’s Village Voice and some of the largest gay papers in the country. We have poured our heart and soul into creating a vibrant community newspaper, which captures the dimensions and depths of the South Florida LGBT community. We have featured national and local news, entertainment and theater reviews, editorial columns and comics, breaking news stories and crosswords puzzles.
Our daily headlines inform constantly and our website, www.sfgn.com, is updated every day with breaking news. At SFGN, we do that as a business, supporting charities but making sure we don’t become one. The news is out there to report if you do it diligently, faithfully and honestly. We are here really, though, only because of you. We are here because you have been willing to invest in this community and this newspaper.
We are not alone in our growth. Anyone witnessing the Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida perform its Holiday Show has seen how a vision yesterday has become a spectacle today. We just gave an award to the GLBX Business Exchange for their exponential growth and influence in the community. Like the Mack Mixers, they have emerged as social and professional networking centers. Like us, they too just started a few years ago. Like us, they have found that the harder you work, the luckier you get. The key is delivering substance and honor, not pomp and puffery.
Nightclubs like the Manor Entertainment Complex, the Alibi, Sidelines, Bill’s, Mona’s; they remain forces in our community because they give back demonstrably to the people who give to them. We try to mention them all, whether it is a charity hosted by Rosie’s, a benefit by Hotspots or another fund raiser by New Moon. The good you do comes back to you, but remember Karma, because so does the bad.
In our very first issue, we published a news-breaking story of a Hollywood police officer’s fight to keep his job in the face of departmental discrimination. Then we exposed an ex gay leader who was an ex-con. We revealed how a drag queen nearly lost her nursing job of 40 years because of a lewd action conviction 40 years ago. We have exposed con artists conducting Ponzi schemes in Wilton Manors and gay entrapment frauds in West Palm Beach. We have published ‘The Spirit,’ to remind us that AIDS is still pervasive and alive, rather than cured and conquered. But a newspaper’s duty is to report the truth and record the frauds. We have to tell you about the warts as well, from gay domestic violence to LGBT drug abuse.
We have given life and attention to gay swim teams, soccer teams, softball teams and openly gay athletes competing in international competitions. We have sadly written about the loss of lives; passages of our friends. But we have also illuminated the lives of the LGBT community’s new leaders, open and out, serving in the military and getting married in city clerk’s offices.
We have reported on Pride Festivals from South Beach to Australia, and showcased national and international LGBT leaders. There are in fact so many good and caring people in our community it is nearly impossible to cover everything everywhere. As more and more men and women lead openly gay lives, we learn how large the closet door has been, how big our universe of LGBT brothers and sisters really is.
We’ve written thousands of articles, hundreds of profiles, but everyday there is more to write, because our community is growing in stature and grace, recognition and force, socially, politically, and professionally. That this magazine reaches a dozen cities and can be seen in the lobby of local banks and national bookstores says it all for us.
Ultimately, because The Mirror and SFGN are free, we are only here because of you. Personally, I have tried to be faithful to your investment, making sure that your advertising dollar is treated with a corresponding commitment to credible journalism, legitimate news, and honest reporting.
My goal with SFGN is to record the gay and lesbian history of South Florida, from the White Street Pier AIDS Memorial in Key West, to the emerging LGBT communities in Lake Worth. We deserve to be recognized by what we achieve in the daytime, not who we sleep with in the nighttime.
On behalf of our staff, thank you for giving us the continuing opportunity to be a part of your lives.
Have a wonderful and happy New Year.