As businesses start to re-open, daily schedules returning to a faster pace and many of us getting back to a full work week, there are still Floridians dying of the COVID-19 pandemic and many more worldwide.

The latest numbers here in Florida are being reported at 2,800 deaths, with probably many more deaths not included in this count due to various reasons and issues. Nationwide the count is over 115,000 and climbing. 

Our society cannot remain in lockdown forever and we must find new and safer ways of performing our daily routines. Unfortunately, it appears that we are on our own to figure this out, since no plan of action or clear message is coming from our national leaders during this time of worldwide crisis. The total failure of national leadership should be an outrage to all. 

When we as a nation are under attack, we look to our national leadership for direction, unity, assistance, a call for action and a plan to achieve a successful goal beneficial to all Americans. Unfortunately, that is not the world we live in today. False information, no clear strategy, foolishness, and fear are the new norm. We have 50 state governments and thousands of municipalities all going in different directions due to failure on the national level. 

Outrageous. 

Taking the outrage and using it to make the lives of people better, safer and more secure is what the late Larry Kramer showed us during his many years of activism. 

Another pandemic, another time, another death toll, activist Larry Kramer stepped up out of rage, fear and anger to create pressure on those in power instigating much to transpire that saved thousands if not millions of lives over the years. Larry passed away recently at the age of 84. Perhaps a bit surreal that we say goodbye to this great man who sounded the alarm over people dying of AIDS as we are faced with the death counts of a new pandemic, COVID-19. Please take a moment, recognize his contribution and honor his work over decades, not only for the LGBT community, but for the worldwide fight to bring HIV/AIDS awareness to the level of importance that was and is still needed. This man’s efforts saved the lives of so many. 

Larry Kramer sounded the alarm with unapologetic chutzpah back in the early 1980s as AIDS began its deadly toll. Calling out national and local politicians, public health officials, drug companies and anyone not listening as murderers and incompetent idiots, he made news headlines and brought about the much-needed attention to the devastating reality of AIDS when many chose to look the other way. 

Larry Kramer co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis and then in a few years created ACT UP to bring a more unleashed direct-action protest organization to the front lines. Both organizations did much in the early fight and for years brought change to public health policy, public awareness and action that saved so many lives and helped many more living with HIV/AIDS.

The “in your face” style of Larry Kramer and ACT UP in the 1980s made many aware of the deadly infection rates throughout our community.  His style caused many to dislike him, and was condemned by many, but in the end, he was able to bring about the change that was so needed at the time. Our community and the world thank you for being the curmudgeonly activist we needed back in the 1980s and for all the years you worked, fought, wrote, created and made life better for so many people. 

Here in Wilton Manors, we have no shortage of local heroes that seek to make the lives of our residents better each and every day. City elected officials and city management make tough decisions to protect residents, non-profit organizations who serve many in our community, neighbors calling on neighbors offering help and assistance, organizing relief programs for those who lost jobs and incomes, shopping for a friend and many more unsung acts of greatness each and every day. That is what makes us all a better community and a better place we call the Island City. 

As our city continues to reopen, I am grateful for the reopening of Wilton Creamery and for a pint of delicious Sea Salt Caramel ice cream. My ever-expanding waistline might think otherwise, but we must do our part to help support local businesses. 

So, as we begin to venture out once again, take a moment to think about supporting the Wilton Manors business community and to shop locally whenever possible. Let us not forget the important role of having a local newspaper in our community. 

Thank you SFGN for bringing us our local news supplement, The Wilton Manors Gazette and for the New Pelican Newspaper for their continued coverage of our city.

Keeping our neighborhoods and business community strong and supporting what makes our community great is a mission we must commit, because that is what makes life just better here.