We all have handled this pandemic in our own way. There are friends that have done things that we would not do and others that have been more safe than we ever thought possible. And I think that goes for different cities and different states across the nation.
Living in Fort Lauderdale, I think I’ve seen all of the above and I am sure you have too in your towns. Myself, I’ve been extra cautious and have kept my circle of cautious friends close to me over the past year. But now, being the men of a certain age that we are, an age where we are all vaccinated, we’re looking forward to giving that bubble some more breathing room. And we can see LGBT Fort Lauderdale is doing the same, opening up for more business, but in a safe fashion.
Here are some upcoming events that we will be looking to attend soon. Come on down and check them out with us!
FLORIDA AIDS WALK
Well, for this one, you probably cannot get here fast enough as this event is this Saturday, April 24th. The return of the “The Walk” is something that so many people are talking about. Even before the event has happened, it’s already a great success on many levels.
The Florida AIDS Walk, an annual event is organized by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, has always been a success no matter what year. even after being cancelled last year, the event raised $3 million. This year, the attendance was unknown, but a goal of $1.5 million was set and as of typing this up on Thursday night before the event, $1.86 million had been raised. Gone are the concerns about how to make a return and raise enough money to give to agencies serving the HIV-positive community.
“All of our teams have continued to be creative and innovative in how they approach fundraising, recognizing that no donation is too small, as it all goes towards a great cause and addressing a critical public health issue for this community,” Irma Canady of AHF said. “And with the dollar-for-dollar match given by AHF, it’s also a great feeling for any donor to know their contribution is doubled.”
After the walking comes the dancing.
At the end of the 5k walk, participants will be greeted by DJ Alex Ferbeyre, later in the evening South Florida’s own Trina will perform and Lil’ Kim will be this year’s headliner.
“The financial success of the Florida AIDS Walk is reflected in the giving spirit of this community. To have attained this goal, absent the physical walk taking place, can be attributed to thousands of individuals that recognize the importance of their individual and collective fundraising, and the impact that these dollars continue to have in support of organizations that are making a difference in our local community. It also speaks to the corporate social responsibility of the corporate community, not only in South Florida, but across the country that also recognizes the importance of this event and the impact these dollars have in combating the increasing HIV epidemic happening in South Florida.” – Imara Canady of AHF.
If you are in the area or you would like to donate, know more about the event is set for Saturday, April 24 at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, visit “The Walk”‘s website at FloridaAidsWalk.org. Registration starts at 8 a.m. and the Walk steps off at 10 a.m. Social distancing and COVID safety measures will be in place.
South Florida is known as the epicenter of the nation’s HIV/AIDS epidemic. “Though our nation is in the midst of addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still seeing a steady increase in new HIV diagnosis, especially in communities across the South,” Canady said. “Events like the Florida AIDS Walk not only help to raise the critical funds that organizations like those that benefit from the walk desperately need, but also is a time to keep awareness around the growing HIV/AIDS epidemic.”
This year’s beneficiaries include AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Equality Florida Institute, Latinos Salud, The Pride Center at Equality Park, SAVE Foundation, SunServe, and World AIDS Museum and Educational Center.
Stonewall Pride 2021 Is On!
THERE WILL BE PRIDE ON JUNE 19 – The annual parade and street festival (canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic) has been given the green light by Wilton Manors and Broward County officials to take place as planned on Saturday, June 19.
“This is great news for South Florida’s LGBTQ+ community and especially for Wilton Manors,” said Jeff Sterling, CEO of WMEG Community Marketing and Events which organizes the annual celebration. “This will be the first Pride in South Florida in 2021, so we are putting safety protocols in place that will allow people to come out and celebrate together with a great outdoor event,” Sterling said.
The Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival typically attracts 35,000 spectators and has a direct economic impact of more than a million dollars for the City of Wilton Manors, according to an independent study. Plans this year call for the street festival with music and vendors to begin at 3 p.m. followed by a parade at 7 p.m. when temperatures fall (THANK GOODNESS!). The one-day event ends at 11 p.m.
“We are appealing to corporations and businesses to support this important event and show community spirit by becoming a sponsor, entering the parade, buying a booth and/or advertising in the official Stonewall guide,” said Sterling, pointing to the expenses involved in staging an event of this kind. “Many people don’t understand that public safety comes at a cost — more than $50,000 just for police and medical services,” he said. “As a non-profit, we fund Stonewall Pride mostly by sponsorships and donations — both of which we need a lot more of this year,” he said.
Stonewall recognizes the 1969 riot that took place at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City, which was raided by police. The event triggered the gay rights movement. “Stonewall Pride is a reminder of the struggle for acceptance and equality by LGBTQ+ people and a celebration of who we are and how far we have come,” he said. “It’s an important message at this time of healing in our nation.”
Visit stonewallpride.lgbt for sponsorship and vendor information or call Jamie Forsythe at (754) 200-1641.
Wilton Manors Art Walks
I think we’ve all been to an art walk or tow in our lives so this is not a new concept for any city to have. It’s a great opportunity to look at local artists, what they have to offer, and support local talent, better than buying the 150,000th print at Target, Marshalls, or Home Goods.
But where else in the world can you do an art walk amongst a dozen plus gay bars. Maybe some of those libations will loosen up your purse strings.
Social distancing and masks will be mandatory for the event in our COVID-conscious community. Touch-free payment processing is encouraged for each artist selling their artwork. Artists are highly encouraged to provide sanitizer at points of sale or where surfaces are contacted.
The next Art Walk will be on May 15th as the April Art Walk was held on the 17th. For more information about the Art Walk, head over to its home page. If you cannot attend or if you are from out of town and you want to see if the Art Walk is something you want to attend, you can always tune in to the Art Walk’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/artwalkwiltonmanors/) to watch live coverage. Here is one of the event’s previous videos.
But What About The Bars & Strip Clubs?
Remember, what I said about some friends being safe and others not so much? Well, that is how some of the bars have been down here, how some of the patrons have been, and you just need to go where you feel comfortable.
When most of us intelligent people started recognizing that there was a pandemic happening back in February of 2020, that’s was the last time I had gone to a gay bar in Wilton Manors until the beginning of April 2021. After my second shot, I was feeling a little more comfortable to go out to one of the 12+ gay bars that are a mile away from my home. I had heard stories of some bars that were doing the right thing, bars that were trying to do the right thing, but patrons were moving barriers and overcrowding he spots, and I hear of bars that were not practicing much of anything. Some were bringing in big internationally known DJs and others were offering 2-for-1 drink specials left and right. Knowing which bars were looking out for our safety and which ones were not will resonate with how I spend my money in the future.
Don’t get me wrong, I was drinking in other places, just not any gay bars even if they were known to be practicing what they should be. I didn’t want to go down to “The Drive” and see people acting foolishly. You instead found me at different places outside of Wilton Manors, breweries on afternoons on the weekends away from Fort Lauderdale proper. And that is what I chose to do.
But since I have been vaccinated, I have been visiting some of the bars, still choosing where I spend my money, still watching that there are not large crowds. Still remaining outside as much as possible.
One place I did choose to spend some money and share is Johnsons (Facebook page). Even though they are mentioned on Facebook as Johnsons Fort Lauderdale, they are in Wilton Manors (they really should change that). If you look at its page, You’ll see it’s a strip club, a very fun strip club. What I was impressed about, besides the well seasoned drinks and the bulging men, was that the patrons were all very respectful and were wearing masks when they were moving around and when they were getting up to tip the dancers. Now, I did not partake in the back room for a private lap dance so I do not know about the mask practice when things got closer, but out front, everyone was doing their thing, dancers, and tippers.
See you soon!
I’ll be traveling around the country soon as May is filling up, but I will say that I am more comfortable now living in Florida living in Fort Lauderdale as I do have my two shots, as I do have many choices to spend my money at when I go out, and that I do have many options for outdoor activities in the Sunshine State. For more information on other events happening this month and months to come, keep checking out https://www.sunny.org