This week our newspaper learned that the Fort Lauderdale Men’s Chorus, in an effort to save money and secure advertising and promotion for their concerts, signed an exclusive contract last fall, with the now defunct 411 Magazine and South Florida Blade.

The terms and conditions of that secret agreement provided that the chorus would not be allowed to advertise their concerts in any gay publications other than those two venues.

In addition, the Administrator of the chorus interpreted that agreement to mean it included a covenant and restriction barring him from sending out news releases or doing interviews about the concerts to any other gay publications.

Consequently, when Mary Damiano, the nationally published Arts and Entertainment Editor of SFGN contacted the chorus this week for a story, she was turned down. All we were going to do was promote the Spring Concert season in picture and in print, distributing 13,000 copies to 350 locations in 3 counties.

The gay mens’ chorale groups in this town have properly won respect and stature in both ours and the heterosexual community. The group has even appeared at Florida Marlins’ games singing our national anthem, not one owned by a bar guide.

The Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus is this community’s cherished chorale group, and not the property of Mark’s List, the South Florida Blade, or any other media entity.

The days of petty publications extorting not for profits in exchange for free advertising have come to an end. Right here, right now, this moment, and never again. Every one of those deals will be exposed in this paper.

The South Florida Gay will play on a ball yard called Equality Park.

Mark’s List and the Agenda, or their abandoned predecessors, the 411 and the Blade, will no longer pull this crap and get away with it. They have disgraced themselves.

The Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus entered into this unholy alliance and unspeakable relationship because it was terribly convenient and financially expedient. In other words, they sold their soul to be hostage to one publication that would shower them with love and attention and in kind advertisements.

Our gay history is littered with gay media entities fashioning schemes to enrich themselves while hurting their competitors. It is not enough that they succeed. They want others to fail. This is horrendous, and must not stand.

What if a not for profit AIDS agency was having a free day of testing and could only advertise it in Hot Spots?

What if the GLCC was hosting a day on dealing with domestic violence at home and could only promote it in the Agenda?

How dare any Board of Directors subject themselves to any such restriction for any reason?

How dare any newspaper or magazine subject a charitable not for profit, belonging to our entire community, to such a limitation?

How dare any of us remain silent in the face of this transparent injustice which serves no one and hurts everyone?

When a not for profit opens it heart and soul to our community, we must all be there for them.

These charitable and community wide ventures must be promoted equally and in every magazine and in every newspaper; on every online site and on every blogger’s site.

The love and support must be unconditional, without any pecuniary restriction self-imposed by some childish publisher seeking to gain a pecuniary advantage over another competitor. Make no mistake about it. Those days are over!