For the past 10 years, many of you know Brad Casey as the happy, soldiered soul who spent his weekends peddling hot dogs at the Ramrod on the weekends.
Who doesn’t love a hot dog? Brad loved doing the job. It was stress-free and joyful. He knew giving someone a hot dog made a person happy, cheered them up, and gave them a brief indulgent moment to share with a buddy of their own.
However, my friends, Brad Casey was so much more than a hot dog salesman in the LGBT community. A once seasoned and savvy radio talk show host, salesman, and publisher he was in an earlier life, decades ago in South Florida.
You see, long before there was OutClique, Wired, Buzz, 411, or a host of now-defunct gay bar guides, there was SCOOP — Broward County’s first real gay magazine, with legitimate journalism, illuminating our community.
And SCOOP was a combination of publisher Brad Casey, Robert Kecskemety, and Pompano Bill together bringing light and love to the gay community.
They did not just combine for a bar guide with pictures of shirtless guys holding up drinks at weekend pool parties. SCOOP was different; special. It had real stories about us.
SCOOP featured theater reviews and legitimate journalists doing honest profiles, and even legal columns about the rights of gay persons in a straight world. I know. I wrote them. It was Brad who gave me the forum, the chance, the opportunity.
On the page next to my column today, we display a bunch of the covers, as a tribute to Brad, who entered a hospice this week upon finding out the tumor in the liver of his 75-year-old body is not treatable. He is moving on to the next chapter. Obviously, it is a pain close to my soul.
Like most of the media in our gay community, SCOOP was free. Brad had to be publisher and salesman, hustling weekly to get bars to give him money to pay for the distribution and printing of the magazine. He did it with finesse and dignity, and against all odds, to make our community a better place.
It was a never-ending and no-win battle, during an era and time when there were far too many closeted gay professionals covering up their identities rather than sharing them.
Consequently, instead of lawyers, realtors and other professionals advertising in SCOOP, Brad would have to tediously rely on bars, bookstores, and restaurants, that come and go ever so quickly. That is the kiss of death financially for a weekly print publication.
In fact, SCOOP was started in a tool shed at a gay bar. Club Mediterranean on Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale gave him and Pompano Bill a place to work, post pictures and market a magazine.
SCOOP eventually then moved to a place Brad leased from Tony Dee on Wilton Drive in the ‘90s. Yeah, the roof leaked, but Bob Kecskemety got the paper out, week after week, chock full of news articles illuminating our community.
It is a quarter of a century ago, and my memory is vague, but SCOOP delivered content and Bob’s hard-hitting editorials had an impact. But Brad rarely said anything bad about anyone. He did not censure us for our faults. He showcased who we were at our best.
The magazine, archived at the Stonewall Library, had features that laid out what the gay community was about — men and women with a commitment to making our lives matter, aspiring to be part of a community, rather than apart from it.
When SCOOP met its demise because Brad couldn’t afford to print it anymore, he left literally over $50,000 on the street. What does that mean, you ask?
Those were uncollected bills from gay bars and businesses that went bust, entities he kept on, advertising and promoting anyway, even when they didn’t pay him. It was poor fiscal management to be sure, but it illuminated the soul Brad was. He cared more about you than himself. He wanted to keep the show on the stage. Every theater owner can relate.
Brad had to shut down SCOOP, but he never winced, nor whined, or wallowed in self-pity. He went through hard times. We have all been there, but Brad bounced back.
Brad quietly, through time and testing, became a father figure and permanent fixture in our small community, volunteering here and there, finding a niche everywhere, his deep, barreling voice echoing in our souls.
"My dear friend Brad Casey. I've walked in your footsteps in our community with pleasure and pride spending 11 years in local LGBT publishing directly hearing your accolades and praise … You are an old school gentleman to the highest degree. I love you and have appreciated our friendship for more than a decade. You are a pillar and legend in our LGBT community. Rest easy my friend knowing you left your mark," wrote Mike Trottier on Facebook.