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5 Things You Can't Miss In Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Gay beach flickr.com-Ed and Eddie https---www.flickr.com-photos-edandeddie-16221387101

This weekly travel column is brought to you by ManAboutWorld, an immersive digital premium gay travel magazine from Billy KolberEd SalvatoKenny Porpora, and nearly 75 Global Correspondents.

While many gay meccas are becoming more mainstream (j'accuse Castro, South Beach and Chelsea!), Fort Lauderdale is actually becoming gayer. This is thanks in part to a growing base of out gay men in their 40s and older — many of whom migrated from these former gay capitals — who keep local businesses vibrant, including Ft. Lauderdale's huge assortment of gay restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs and sexually focused venues. Now is a great time to visit the Venice of America with its beautiful canals crisscrossing the city. Or wait till May for Beach Bear Weekend (May 6-11). Or, plan on staying a night or two before or after an upcoming cruise. We probably all know the city has a great gay beach (St. Sebastian) and the fabulous, untouched Hugh Taylor Birch Park, a protected reserve that harkens back to ye olde Ft. Lauderdale. So, here we present our top five things you may not expect and must not miss.

1. Rosie’s: Ok, so you'd totally expect this boozy bar-food joint but it is so gay, no visit to FLL is complete without stopping here. The indoor-outdoor hot spot offers a menu full of quirkily named burgers you shouldn’t be eating and drinks you definitely should be drinking. The food is pretty ordinary despite the high-falutin' menu nomenclature, but this Wilton Manor institution is always packed with gays of all ages and denominations.

2. Day pass at the Grand: If you're not staying at a gay hotel, a day pass at one of Ft. Lauderdale’s gay resorts is a great way to sample the gay guesthouse experience and enjoy a relaxing time in the city (and maybe meet a fellow traveler for fun!) Our first choice is an Editors’ Choice award winner, whose convivial atmosphere is conducive to meeting fellow travelers. The Grand has a day-pass for their small but excellent spa. There’s also a pool area that’s not clothing optional but the large spa is, allowing guests to choose just how naughty they feel like being. There’s a pretty good fitness facility with actual free weights.  

World Aids Museum image3. Bill's Filling Station: Come Friday night, you should be swilling drinks at Bill’s where bears sing karaoke and the Happy Hour specials are kicking. And lets not forget the Friday night GROWL party! This is a down-to-Earth bar where  anyone can have a great time, though, admittedly, it’s mostly leather clad daddy bears letting loose to some great music.

4. Market 17: Fort Lauderdale doesn’t have a distinctive local cuisine or big foodie scene, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat well. Market 17 serves the most sophisticated food in town, a farm to table experience, fresh, healthy, and delicious; open dinner only.

5. World AIDS Museum: A quick drive to Wilton Manors and you’ll find this museum that opened this past December
inside a nondescript Wilton Manors strip mall. The first museum of its kind, the space chronicles the fascinating, eye-opening, and often heart-wrenching history of HIV/AIDS through a timeline exhibit starting in 1908 (not 1980 — 1908!), art, interactive multimedia and memorabilia. The docent-led or self-guided tours offer a window into the history, hope and devastation of this highly politicized disease and the 39 million lives it has taken. 

You can find loads more information on gay-ascendant Ft. Lauderdale in ManAboutWorld, whose current issue gathers the top recommendations for a short stay, combining attractions that are unique to Fort Lauderdale with top hotel, nightlife and dining recommendations. ManAboutWorld offers opinionated travel information and inspiration in over 100 destinations around the world: Get ManAboutWorld Magazine on iTunes (iOS) or Google Play (Android). You may also find information at the tourism authority's gay microsite Sunny.org/LGBT. 

Image credits: Top: Ed and Eddie; right: Billy Kolberbottom: Ryan Blanding

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Fort Lauderdale Approves Resolution Urging State Leaders to Legalize Gay Marriage

 Lauderdale
Fort Lauderdale's city commissioners approved a resolution Tuesday night urging state leaders to take action to legalize same-sex marriage, the New Times reports:

The measure, sponsored by openly gay Commissioner Dean Trantalis, is nonbinding, and asks Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Legislature to make gay marriage in Florida legal.

SeilerAs they had indicated before the vote, Mayor Jack Seiler (pictured) and Vice Mayor Romney Rogers opposed the resolution.

But it passed in a 3-2 vote, with Commissioners Trantalis, Bobby DuBose and Bruce Roberts supporting it.

The statement did not appear likely to pass just hours before last night's meeting, NBC Miami reports:

"I got calls today from California, Colorado, New York, New Jersey, Orlando, all wanting to know if our chamber was going to step up and step up to the plate," Chad Thilborger, the chair for the Gay and Lesbian Business Exchange said.

Supporters’ biggest fear if the resolution failed was the economic impact. According to the Convention & Visitors Bureau, there are currently 150 LGBT owned businesses in Broward County. Last year there were 1.2 million visitors who spent $1.4 billion dollars, most of that in Fort Lauderdale.

“My fear from an economic impact point of view would have been a Florida boycott with tourism as well as with businesses," Thilborger said. Of the more than 40 speakers, two were against the resolution primarily for religious reasons.

Watch NBC Miami's report, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Out HGTV Designer David Bromstad Defends Participation in Anti-Gay Salvation Army's Fundraiser

BromstadOut HGTV designer David Bromstad is hosting an event for the Salvation Army on October 18 in Fort Lauderdale and many of his fans are unhappy that Bromstad would be supporting such a blatantly anti-gay organization.

The Salvation Army's bias against gays is well documented, including statements by officials that homosexuality is "an unacceptable urge", its lobbying against same-sex marriage in the UK and Australia, its threat to stop serving NYC if it had to obey an equal benefits ordinance, and its statement by an official last year that gays should be put to death.

Wrote Bromstad on Facebook over the weekend:

Dear fans,

I've read your feedback on my participation with The Salvation Army USA, as an openly gay person whom just happens to also be a celebrity, I took the Salvation Army's request to participate in their fundraiser as one step in the right direction towards equality. If we simply separate ourselves from those that we assume appose us or our beliefs then we will never make strides in the right direction. I applaud the Salvation Army's symbolic handshake towards acceptance and would be foolish to not extend my hand in acceptance.

SalvationarmyLast year, radio host Stephanie Miller apologized after allowing a rep from the Salvation Army on her show caused a firestorm of anger from her listeners. The rep. blatantly lied after she asked if the organization was anti-gay. Miller said she had not done her research on its "long and checkered history in olving LGBTQ people".

Do you agree with Bromstad's strategy?


South Florida Gayborhood Sees Suicide Spike

Wilton%20ManorsWilton Manors is a genial gayborhood of some 12,000 souls in Broward County, FL, just to the north of Fort Lauderdale. It's arguably the gayest gayborhood in America, and it's a very pleasant place. (I know, for I grew up there. It's nice!) And yet, according to the Sun Sentinel, Wilton Manors' citizens are committing suicide at a greater rate than citizens of any of the other 31 municipalities in Broward, and at three times the rate of American citizens in general. Zero-point-oh-four-seven of Wilton Manors residents are killing themselves per year.

From the Sentinel:

Over the past four years, this city of under 12,000 people has had five more suicides than [the nearby city of] Weston, which has about 65,000 people, and only one fewer suicide than [nearby] Miramar, which has 122,000 people, according to figures from the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office.

... Among last year's suicides, O'Connell said a 40-year-old gay man hanged himself in October after breaking up with his partner; a 44-year-old man with a history of mental illness shot himself in August; and a 52-year-old man — married with children — stepped in front of a train in June, conflicted about whether he was straight or gay.

While O'Connell said the suicides seem to involve every part of society — "straight, gay, rich, poor, old, young" — mental health professionals see several potential factors behind the city's increase.

Yes: gayness, poverty, and age. Wilton Manors is both older and vastly gayer than most American cities, and both the aged and the gay are slightly more likely than their younger and straighter counterparts to kill themselves. But those factors don't seem sufficient to explain the Wilton Manors discrepency, according to the Sentinel.

Wilton Manors officials have called a townhall meeting for April 19th to discuss the city's suicide problem.


Rally Planned in South Florida in Response to Controversy Surrounding Congressman Allen West

A newly-formed South Florida LGBT group is planning a rally on Monday in response to recent controversy surrounding the Wilton Manors Business Association's recent invitation to anti-gay Congressman Allen West to speak at one of its meetings.

West Dean Trantalis, an attorney and member of WMBA, hosted the first meeting of the Coalition for Equality and Fairness and stated that their goal is to create an organization designed to protect citizenship diversity and stand up to public officials who are bullying the LGBT community.

The new group announced that it will release its mission statement Thursday, after planning an agenda and venue for its first event -- a rally entitled “Allen West: In His Own Words.” The forum, open to the public, will be held 6 p.m. Monday, August 8, in a location to be announced.

The WMBA withdrew its invitation to West following outrage and calls for a boycott of the organization from the LGBT Democratic Caucus.

West wrote a letter (PDF) condemning the cancelation:

“This boycott would have harmed hard-working small business owners simply because members of the Wilton Manors Business Association wanted to be better informed on business related issue taking place in Washington D.C.,” the statement reads. “In these very tough economic times, I find it intolerable that the Florida Gay, Lesbian, Transgender Democratic Caucus would call upon a boycott to hurt small business owners trying to earn a living and only wanting to better be informed about business related issues from their Member of Congress. Clearly, we have learned who really are the intolerable individuals in South Florida.”

The South Florida Gay News has a timeline of the West controversy, which includes statements he made as recently as July regarding the military's 'DADT' policy:

In Plant City at a town hall meeting West comments on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. He states: “When you take the military and you tell it they must conform to the individual's behavior, then it's just a matter of time until you break down the military.” He also rejects any comparison between racial integration and the integration of gays in the military. “Let me explain something to you. I can't change my color. People can change their behavior, but I can't change my color.”

Note to readers: several of you have written in complaining about Allen West ads that are appearing on our pages. If you see them, it is likely that they are appearing contextually based on content which we have written exposing his anti-gay positions, and can be difficult to block.


Britney-Tattooed Chihuahua Thief to be Extradited to Florida

Chihuahua  

You may recall the story of Hudson Hayward Hemingway, a chihuahua with pink earrings, which was stolen from Georgi's Alibi gay bar in Fort Lauderdale last July by a man with a Britney Spears tattoo

Reynolds There has been a break in the case.

The suspect in the case, Channing Reynolds (pictured), has been arrested on unrelated charges in Pennsylvania. He is expected to be extradited to Florida this week to face a grand theft charge in connection with the chihuahua.

The Sun-Sentinel caught up with the dog's owner, who has replaced the original chihuahua with Hudson Hayward Hemingway II, to break the news. 

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

Previously...
Chihuahua Stolen from Gay Bar by Man with Britney Tattoo [tr]

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