Publishing this newspaper takes a lot of time and energy, but the two days I spent at Pridefest were kind to me. So many of you overwhelmed me with praise and compliments on the energy and excitement we here at SFGN have created in the community.
“Finally,” I heard over and over again, “a paper with content; with real news.” The truth is real news has always been there if other publications chose to invest in you and take the leap of faith necessary to believe you mattered. You are the news, and we just report it.
South Florida may once have been a playground of just sun and fun but even in the year 2000, in the early days of The Express Gay News, I saw a vibrant gay community actively emerging. Times are tough today, for sure, harder than they have ever been for most of us.
To continue our mission, this newspaper will continue to need your support. But there is reason to believe in ourselves and our unlimited capacity. The LGBT community is stronger and more diversified than it has ever been.
This past weekend our community gathered in shirts and ties to celebrate ‘Stars of the Rainbow’ at the GLCC. Next weekend, Lambda Legal will salute honorable legislators, while others go to a Broward House benefit featuring a funny gay comedienne, Sarah Bernhard. On that same night, another thousand or so gay men and women will celebrate the artistry of music and support SunServe at its ‘Bravissimo’ Concert.
The gay community is the Sunshine Cathedral and Congregation Etz Chaim- gathering for a spectacular Christmas concert, or a High Holy Days service. The gay community is the Stonewall library collecting volumes for the ages, and hosting speakers’ forums which includes nationally known gay figures addressing local groups. The gay community is Pridelines hosting a forum for youth which offers social opportunities, counseling and positive coming out experiences.
The gay community is inaugurating in South Florida an unprecedented Senior Day Care Center for older gays, or the joint Miami-Fort Lauderdale Gay and Lesbian festival, coming to a theater near you next month. The gay community is the Hurricane Showdown Softball Tournament, the bowling leagues, the pool tournaments that gather weekly in local bars, and then wind up hosting an annual benefit for caregivers like the Poverello Center. If you read the sports pages of this issue, the gay community is now also a Polo League, hosting an annual tournament in Wellington next month.
The gay community is the Rainbow Alliance, the Business and Professional Group, Women in Networking, the GLB-X, and yet new organizations constantly launching initiatives designed to promote commerce, consumer safety, and public responsibility.
The gay community is the Stonewall Street Festival, with thousands of decent civic-minded gay souls, walking communally up and down the streets in Broward. And if Pridefest was not enough, a super-hero of pride leaders will be saluted in Palm Beach next week and again in Miami Beach in April.
The gay community is the White Party, Art for AIDS Dinners, the Dade Human Rights Foundation, and countless bars and entertainers hosting parties and nights of remembrance for those no longer with us. Decent people raising dollars and dreams for the case managers, researchers, and physicians who still fight AIDS in the hospitals and hospices by partaking in AIDS walks and bike rides- that is the gay community.
The gay community is the countless volunteers for SAVE Dade and Equality Florida, or so many other political groups, donating their time and dollars, hours and energy, to preserve and protect the human rights we hold and cherish so dearly. Finally, it also looks like the gay community, thanks to getequal.org, may rise up in protest loudly against being treated as second class citizens by politicians. Maybe we will soon worry less about cocktail parties and more about effecting real change with meaningful confrontations to power structures apathetic too long.
Whether you are chaining yourself to the White House or singing in a gay chorus, you are all the real heroes of the gay community. We all play our part. There have always been enriching stories to be told and shared. There are a million stories in our naked city.
A shortage of news? There never has been one, and this newspaper- each week- will make its mission sharing with you the vast breadth and diversity of our lives, with it victories and defeats, its wins and its warts. Sometimes, those stories will capture the injustice done to Mike Verdugo, a Hollywood police officer, or the wrongs committed against Tiny Tina, when she was fired from her nursing job. On other days, they will salute heroes like Chuck Nichols, featured in our profile today. But we will own up to who we are, and our mission will be to report to you what is both good and bad about all of us.