Traveling for Instinct Magazine, I get to go to many cities, states, nations, and continents and it’s one of the greatest perks of the position. In doing so, I run into so many people that are touting their business or communities’ movements for diversity, equity, and inclusion. I am happy to say that so many are getting it right, moving in the right direction, and they become places I want to return to again and again, but some, I just look at them, ponder, rattle those rocks in my head, and say to myself, “Really? Do they think that is enough? Do they have any queer representation on their staff to help them out?”
And as my plane sets back down in Fort Lauderdale (FLL), or the cruise ship docks at Port Everglades, or I take that exit off Interstate 95, the rocks do not rattle, and I don’t have to question my community for I know I’m back home in so many ways. Here are some of the reasons I do love this area of Southern Florida, Wilton Manors, and Greater Fort Lauderdale.
The Community Cares
Yes, we do have some amazing Prides, Halloween celebrations, and so much more, but we also take the time to care. While HIV and AIDS have fallen out of the spotlight in recent years, the epidemic is far from over. An estimated 1.1 million people in the US are living with HIV, and 15% of them don’t know it. More than 100,000 people are living with HIV in Florida. Florida AIDS Walk works to bring attention to this pressing issue, educate and inspire our community to work together, and end the epidemic once and for all.
We walk to remember those who no longer can. We walk to remind you that you’re not alone. We walk for a nation. We walk for change.
Every year, it astonishes me to see how much love and $ comes in for this event. There’s still time to donate.
The Community is Diverse
When I moved into Fort Lauderdale, I won the lottery when I found a room to rent in a loving home with a couple that also was very active in the Sunshine Cathedral. Nope, I’m not religious, but I respect those that choose to belong to a community of love and worship that bring a better life for them and those in their community and beyond. And my, they are wonderful for the Greater For Lauderdale community.
In recent years, one of the Sunshine Cathedrals ways of giving back is to bring in impressive talent. No, its’s not a recruiting ploy, but you’ll want to come back for more. This week its offering is Laith Ashley:
LAITH ASHLEY – The International Day of Transgender Visibility occurs at the end of March. To observe Trans* visibility and celebrate the Transgender community, Sunshine Cathedral is featuring Laith Ashley on Saturday, March 26 at 8 pm.Laith is a Trans* activist, singer, and internationally successful model. He uses his celebrity to help educate the public about the transgender experience as well as to advocate for social justice.This is the biggest name from the Trans* community we have ever brought to Sunshine Cathedral and we need your help to make this event successful. So, please buy tickets to the events and tell your friends about it.Tickets can be purchased at sunshinecathedral.org and start at $40; the show is also available online for only $20. At this time in history, Transgender people need to be seen, heard, and supported.
Another big name, great acquaintance, and a person I need more of in my life is Miss Coco Peru. Her show will be my birthday present to myself as I try to not miss a chance to be mentally wined and dined, educated and alleviated, entertained and sustained by the great MCP. She may be “Bitter, Bothered, & Beyond”, but she is one of the great storytellers you will ever have the honor to hear. Did I mention I love her?
So, mixing religion, transgender activism, and drag legends, yeah, that’s pretty diverse.
The Community Is Hopping!
Yes, yes, yes! Come and enjoy the candy! Many of y’all come to Fort Lauderdale to enjoy Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors. From Dairy Queen to Rosie’s Bar & Grill, the 11 to 15 gay bars and multiple restaurants are full of eye candy, smiling faces, and are queer queer queer. You’re gonna be so happy you came. What seems like a bustling Pride weekend in a mid sized city, many nights and every weekend, weekend days, the streets are just full of peeps with rainbow blood. I just went out this Sunday and yes, day drinking, socializing, gay softball league activities, all of that is alive and well.
When friends look to come to Wilton Manors, I recommend looking for an airbnb or misterb&b closer to the drive if they’re looking to meet the boys. There are some great options near the beach, too, but if your focus is on the boys and bars, get close to the bars.
And when I travel, many destinations want me to not talk up, the nightlife and want to steer away from the bars. Well dearies, yes, gay life is not all about the bars, but hello, they are a part of our community that we support and they support us. So here are some of our favorite haunts:
Hunters – Check out this bar’s schedule online as they often will offer a lil something extra for their patrons, may it be a guest DJ or a performer. If there’s nothing extra, don’t you worry, what they have to offer is the best dance space on the drive. If you’re lucky enough to be around on a holiday weekend or even a regular one, the bar’s Sunday Disco night is one that draws all the boys.
GYM Sportsbar – How relaxed do you want to get? Granted the normal attire for bars in Wilton Manors consists of shorts and a tee or tank, GYM bar seems to be one of the most relaxed places on the drive. Not only are then men beefy and sporty, the chicken wings and tenders are the best in town and what better way to try to soak up all the adult bevs before walking home or doing the rideshare thing.
The Eagle – Every bar in Wilton Manors is open for everyone and welcome to all. Yes, some of us will fit in a little better in some places than others and will feel more comfortable, but seriously, Wilton Manors may be the place where you let down your hair, shave off your hair, or show all of that body hair. I was excited to see this event come up on my radar and might just have to take in some if the sunshine and the bears at this Bears in the Alley event!
URBAN BEAR & THE EAGLE WILTON MANORS Presents ‘BEARS IN THE ALLEY’ A Tropical Street Fair and Dance Party Saturday March 26, 1pm-8pm 23rd St. Closure & Eagle Parking Lot Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Join hundreds of Bears, Cubs, Wolves and other Gay Wildlife for a sun-fueled, action-packed outdoor celebration featuring Music by DJ Chauncey D (Resident DJ Stonewall NYC) plus: • LIVE ENTERTAINMENT! • FOOD TRUCKS! • VENDORS! • CARNIVAL ATTRACTIONS! •. BEARS! BEARS! BEARS! GALORE! PLUS! SPECIAL PERFORMANCE BY VARLA JEAN MERMAN!
Advance tickets and vendor registration at https://eaglebarwm.com/bears/ SPREAD THE WORD AND SEE YOU IN THE ALLEY! Sign up for this and other event updates at theurbanbear.com