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BEGINS IN CENTER
march 18, 2020 vol. 11 // issue 12
LIFE STOPS COVID-19 BRINGS COMMUNITY TO A STANDSTILL PAGES 2 - 8, 24
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BILL GATES HAD IT RIGHT Urged America to Focus on Pandemic Control
Publisher • Norm Kent Norm.Kent@sfgn.com
CEO • Pier Angelo Guidugli email@example.com
ill Gates, at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, on Feb. 28, 2017, stated the following: Whether it occurs by a quirk of nature or at the hand of a terrorist, epidemiologists say a fast-moving airborne pathogen could kill more than 30 million people in less than a year. And they say there is a reasonable probability the world will experience such an outbreak in the next 10 to 15 years. For years now, Bill Gates has been a voice in the wilderness, warning us that our nation has been woefully unprepared to deal with a pandemic. Ours is a country that brags about the bombs we build and the jets we own. But you can’t carpet bomb a virus. You could have carpeted research clinics and hospitals though. You could have kept a pandemic task force in place, ready to act as necessary. Grandmothers carrying their grandson across the Rio Grande were never putting our nation at risk. They did not cause Walmart’s all over America to close. They got jobs there instead. A Space Force? We really don’t need to arm soldiers with ray guns to fight Vulcans from outer space. That was a TV show. Ebola, Swine Flu, Corona — this is real life. Now it is bringing to us an untimely death. Our older LGBT community knows what it is like to see a community decimated. Today, we have yet a new epidemic to fight, new losses to bear. In those early days of HIV, our community was gripped by fear. A diagnosis one day meant certain death in a not too distant tomorrow. For those of us that are in our 70s and lived through the 80s, that’s how we feel today. We appreciate the recommendations of self-quarantine, social distancing and washing our hands. But let’s be real. This virus is not so gentle. The survivability rate for older Americans like myself, with respiratory and
heart conditions, is frighteningly low. The prophylactic measures being initiated by health officials are essential to slow down the spiral of infection — to flatten the curve, as they are saying. Unfortunately, this is a global pandemic. Our efforts will mitigate a disaster, not prevent it. Our cautionary actions will be limiting the spread, not eliminating it. On a personal level, as a high-risk candidate, I will take every precaution, and encourage you to do so as well. At SFGN, we have closed the office for at least two weeks. This print edition is a tribute to a staff working in the new virtual reality. The sad and hard truth is that America is woefully unprepared to deal with this exponentially spreading virus. That is the fault of all of us. We were busy building bigger malls, buying nicer cars, and sailing on beautiful cruise ships. We let politicians and our leaders get away with murder. Now, that inaction is killing us. Don’t take that too hard. Our community is still special and unique; better than most. We still walk, march and bike to arrest the pandemic of AIDS. We say a prayer for those lost and fight like hell for the living. But the lessons of history were there for us to see. After AIDS, there was SARS, the Swine Flu, and the Ebola crisis. Nature has been warning us for years. The smoke signals were there, even with Polio 50 years ago. Like climate change today, we had wake up calls yesterday. We should have done better. Life went on after Polio, and a vaccine was found, but too many people went forward without looking back. We were all taught in grade school the axiom “that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And so, we do now. The concerns of residents of Wilton Manors, greater Fort Lauderdale, and our community will be much more intense with each passing day. The challenges are going
Senior Features Correspondents Jesse Monteagudo
Dori Zinn • Donald Cavanaugh Christiana Lilly • John McDonald Denise Royal • David-Elijah Nahmod
Bill Gates. Photo credit: Sebastian Derungs, World Economic Forum.
to be awesome, but you are blessed with a wealth of community leaders guiding devoted non-profits already coming together to forge a coalition of care and concern. Reach out to them. They are there for you. My message to everyone is don’t get beaten down so far you can’t get up. If you want to find a path in the road ahead, help build the road. Despite how we brag about ourselves as Americans, there are many paths and roads ever so obviously still unpaved. There is no finish line, just another race to run. If you want to seek a newer world and a better future, just go back to the past and look at the dreams still unfilled, and the visions not yet accomplished. From climate change to health care, from social justice to equal rights there are still goals out there for you to set your north star on. Do so boldly. The world you save may be your own. Publishing this paper for a decade and illuminating your lives has been a blessing. With your help, support and faith, we will do our best to carry on in the face of what we all face. Let’s try to get through this together.
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NLGJA Journalist of the Year South Florida Gay News is published weekly. The opinions expressed in columns, stories, and letters to the editor do not represent the opinions of SFGN, or the Publisher. You should not presume the sexual orientation of individuals based on their names or pictorial representations. Furthermore the word “gay” in SFGN should be interpreted to be inclusive of the entire LGBT community. All of the material/columns that appears in print and online, including articles used in conjunction with the AP, is protected under federal copyright and intellectual property laws, and is jealously guarded by the newspaper. Nothing published may be reprinted in whole or part without getting written consent from the Publisher, at his law office, at Norm@NormKent.com. SFGN, as a private corporation, reserves the right to enforce its own standards regarding the suitability of advertising copy, illustrations and photographs. Copyright © 2020 South Florida Gay News.com, Inc.
FloridaHealth.gov/COVID-19 • Florida Department of Health
Are you experiencing symptoms?
Symptoms may appear in 2–14 days after exposure to the virus. 1.4
SHORTNESS OF BREATH
Have you returned from international travel or been on a cruise within the last 14 days?
Have you been around someone diagnosed with COVID-19?
If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, call your healthcare provider and the Florida Department of Health in Broward County at (954) 412-7300 before visiting any healthcare facility.
Guidance Self monitor for fever, cough, or other
respiratory symptoms for 14 days. Avoid contact with sick people. Delay any additional travel plans until no longer sick.
Wash hands often with soap and water for
at least 20 seconds. Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing. Throw the tissue in the trash.
Florida Health Office of Communications 03/10/20
3.18 . 20 20 •
Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.
WINTER PARTY ATTENDEE TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS Chris Johnson
n attendee at a fundraising dance party in Miami for the National LGBT Task Force has tested positive for the coronavirus, the organization informed participants in a letter shared with the Washington Blade.
The organization — best known for its annual tested positive for the coronavirus. “Creating Change” conference — informed “Within my group of friends, 10 or so of us attendees of the event Sunday night about the have flu-like symptoms,” the attendee said. “I’ve attendee who tested positive for coronavirus via chatted with acquaintances who in most cases a letter from Rea Carey, executive director of the say that they have many sick friends within their National LGBT Task Force. groups as well.” “I was informed that one of our Winter Party The attendee added he’s part of a group chat Festival guests tested positive for COVID-19 with roughly 80 members and an estimated 20 in the week following our event,” Carey of them say they have flu-like symptoms. said in a news statement Monday. “We are “Most of us are not eligible for testing so are grateful to them for alerting self-quarantined and recovering us, particularly given that at home,” the attendee said. they were not experiencing Based on social media posts, symptoms during WPF and the attendee said there could be had traveled elsewhere, but up to three confirmed cases of wanted to make sure we were Winter Party attendees who tested aware of this development.” positive for coronavirus. The Winter Party, which Carey insisted in a news took place this year March 4 to statement the Winter Party was 10, is a week-long celebration still held amid concerns about the of beach parties and nightclub spread of the coronavirus based dancing in Miami. According on “official guidance available at to the Task Force, the official the time.” number of attendees at the Precautions undertaken at event was 5,500 people. the event, Carey said, included It’s unknown how the comprehensive signage with CDC attendee was infected. The information about practicing Task Force as of Monday good hygiene and making alcoholmorning had yet to report based hand sanitizer available other cases of attendees testing throughout the Festival. positive for coronavirus. “Information and Carey said in the letter circumstances have changed - Dan Gelber “there are many places people rapidly since WPF,” Carey said. MIAMI BEACH MAYOR could have been exposed “We continue to encourage all before and after Winter Party WPF guests to monitor their as this virus has developed.” health, practice social distancing, wash hands But coronavirus infection among event with soap, use hand sanitizer and contact attendees doesn’t appear to be isolated to their doctor if they think they are exhibiting one individual, based on an account of one symptoms. If one tests positive for COVID-19, we participant at the event. urge them to contact those they were in direct The attendee, who spoke to the Blade on contact with so all can take steps to monitor condition of anonymity, said Monday he had their health and speak with their doctors.” direct exposure to one friend who subsequently The Washington Blade has placed a request
“We can’t have the kinds of crowds we’ve had, the kinds of gatherings.”
• 3.18 . 2020
Winter Party Festival. Photo credit: J.R. Davis.
for comment with the Task Force about whether there are additional reports of infections. In the aftermath of the Winter Party, Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said during a news conference Sunday the beach would be closing from 5th Street to 15th Street, and there would be an 11 p.m. curfew in the entertainment district, according to a local report from NBC Miami. “We can’t have the kinds of crowds we’ve had, the kinds of gatherings,” Gelber was quoted as saying. “I walked down Ocean Drive yesterday and what I saw was incredibly disturbing, it wasn’t just the typical large gatherings of people, but it was young people who believe they’re invincible and probably don’t really think of this in any way as a health crisis.” The Task Force’s decision to move forward with the Winter Party last week was met with anger on social media Monday in the aftermath
of the report over coronavirus infections and warnings all public events should be cancelled. Carey, asked to respond to the anger via email, reiterated the Task Force’s position the party continued in accordance with medical guidance at the time. “The Task Force made the most informed decision we could at the time, but understand the sentiment,” Carey said. “We were working with the most current information about COVID-19 at the time and made a decision based on that. At this point no one can determine when or where individuals during that time period may have been carrying or infected with the virus. Nevertheless, we wanted to be responsible and share the information with our attendees. We can all agree that what we need now is to inform each other and support anyone in our community who has been impacted.”
Visit SFGN.com/SFGNcoronavirus2020 for continuing coverage of the global pandemic.
Photo via the City of Wilton Manors, Facebook.
LGBT COMMUNITY GRINDS TO A HALT AMID CORONAVIRUS PANIC Jason Parsley
irst it was Pride of the Americas. Then in a quick succession every other major LGBT event in South Florida was cancelled, or postponed, in the last week due to fears surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. Miami Beach Pride. Palm Beach Pride. Florida AIDS Walk. Diversity Honors. Equality Florida’s fundraisers. And more. “During this time of uncertainty surrounding the Coronavirus, Equality Florida’s number one priority is the health and safety of our community,” said Executive Director Nadine Smith in a prepared statement. “For that reason, we have cancelled or postponed all of our public events between now and mid-April, including our upcoming large-scale fundraisers.” Some of the major events promised to reschedule, but no dates have been announced for any of the events yet. A week ago some locales across the country were banning gatherings of more than 1,000 people, but day by day that threshold continued to drop to 250, then 100, then 50 with the Centers for Disease Control announcing Monday that it should be lowered to 10 people, in both public and private. Some cities like Miami Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Wilton Manors are mandating certain businesses, like bars and restaurants, close at 10 p.m.
In some cases bars are being proactive closing down altogether. In Wilton Manors The Manor announced it would close until further notice out of “an abundance of caution.” “We hope this will be a short hiatus from the fun and enjoyment we provide,” a statement reads. The Gaythering Bar in Miami Beach also closed. “It is with a heavy heart and sadness, but we feel that this is the best action we can take to protect our beloved staff and patrons,” a statement read. “We will use our network to help as much as possible. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us if you are already isolated by the virus and need help having anything delivered to you.” The Pride Center at Equality Park suspended all groups that meet at the center. “We encourage groups to meet virtually to support their members,” Robert Boo, executive director of the Pride Center, wrote in an email. “Please know that we will continue to assess health risks and follow the guidance of health officials with the goal of restarting all programs as soon as it’s safe to do so.” The situation, however, is fluid with new guidelines and updates being announced hourly. On Tuesday Florida Governor Ron DeSantis ordered the shut down of all bars and nightclubs for 30 days.
SOME OF THE MAJOR EVENTS PROMISED TO RESCHEDULE, BUT NO DATES HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED FOR ANY OF THE EVENTS YET.
Visit SFGN.com/SFGNcoronavirus2020 for continuing coverage of the global pandemic. 3.18 . 20 20 •
CORONAVIRUS INFLICTS SERIOUS BLOW TO
LGBT TRAVEL INDUSTRY Michael K. Lavers Washington Blade
he coronavirus has inflicted a serious blow to the LGBT travel industry.
Atlantis Events, which caters to gay men, has cancelled a cruise on the Celebrity Summit that was scheduled to leave San Juan, Puerto Rico, on March 21, and would have made stops in St. Maarten, Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao before returning to Puerto Rico on March 28. Media reports that emerged last week before Atlantis Events cancelled its Southern Caribbean Cruise indicate customers who cancelled their reservations were unable to receive refunds. “We are currently working on accommodating our guests with options relative to cancellations,” Cone told the Blade. “Once we have this updated information I’ll be able to share.” Olivia Travel, a company that caters to lesbian travelers, has a cruise on a Holland America ship that is scheduled to leave San Diego on April 23 and make stops in Santa Barbara; Calif., San Francisco; Astoria, Ore.; and Seattle before arriving advises Americans to “reconsider travel abroad” because of coronavirus. in Vancouver on April 29. “Many areas throughout the world are now experiencing Holland America has suspended operations through April COVID-19 outbreaks and taking action that may limit 14. traveler mobility, including quarantines and Olivia Travel Strategic Marketing Director border restrictions,” it reads. “Even countries, Maggie Beaumier on Monday told the Blade jurisdictions, or areas where cases have not during a telephone interview from San been reported may restrict travel without Francisco that “everything is still influx.” notice.” “We are addressing this trip by trip,” said The State Department on March 9 also urged Beaumier. Americans not to travel on cruise ships. Beaumier told the Blade that Olivia Travel is “In order to curb the spread of COVID-19, also “proactively reaching out to our guests.” many countries have implemented strict “It’s a very complex situation,” added screening procedures that have denied port Beaumier. entry rights to ships and prevented passengers The World Health Organization on Monday from disembarking,” reads the advisory it said there are 167,511 coronavirus cases in more issued. “In some cases, local authorities have than 100 countries. Statistics also indicate the - Maggie Beaumier permitted disembarkation but subjected virus has killed 6,606 people around the world, OLIVIA TRAVEL STRATEGIC MARKETING DIRECTOR passengers to local quarantine procedures. with 1,808 of the reported deaths in Italy. While the U.S. government has evacuated Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on some cruise ship passengers in recent weeks, Monday announced his country will close its borders to anyone who is not a citizen, permanent resident repatriation flights should not be relied upon as an option for or an American. Germany, El Salvador and Kenya are among U.S. citizens under the potential risk of quarantine by local the dozens of other countries that have also their closed their authorities.” President Trump last week announced the U.S. will ban borders in an effort to curb coronavirus’ spread. The State Department on Sunday issued an advisory that foreign nationals from entering the country from Europe
“We are addressing this trip by trip.”
Washington Blade courtesy of the National LGBTQ Media Association.
• 3.18 . 2020
Seabourn Quest. Photo via Atlantis Events, Facebook.
and the U.K. for 30 days. The U.S. last month issued a ban on foreigners who had previously been in China and Iran. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also urged Americans to “avoid discretionary travel.” Airlines in the U.S. and around the world continue to cancel flights and waive cancelation fees. Axel Hotels, which caters to LGBT travelers, on Monday announced its hotels in Spain and Italy will remain closed through at least April 30. The company on its website says it will provide guests with bookings with a voucher for “the total amount of your booking” that is valid through April 30, 2021. The International LGBTQ+ Travel Association has postponed its annual convention that was to have taken place in Milan from May 6-9. The LGBTQ travel group on Monday shared a tweet from the Brazilian Association of Travel Agents that urges travelers to postpone their trips. Bear Tavern PR, a gay bar in San Juan’s Ocean Park neighborhood that reopened eight days after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September 2017, will remain closed until April 2 because the island’s governor, Wanda Vázquez, has imposed an island-wide curfew and ordered non-essential businesses to close. “The decision is not easy, but we understand it is the best thing for our employees, clientele and country,” wrote the bar on its Facebook page. “It’s important to stop the mode of transmission.” “Puerto Rico has experienced various tragedies in recent years,” adds the post. “We do not want more deaths.”
Robert Griffin, Executive Minister of Sunshine Cathedral. Photo via Robert Griffin, Facebook.
LGBT AGENCIES COME TOGETHER DURING PANDEMIC TO SUPPORT COMMUNITY Jason Parsley
collection of LGBT related social Griffin said they want to make sure people service agencies came together are still reaching out if they need help. Monday to launch the Broward LGBTQ “Self-quarantine is not self-isolation so if Leader Response Task Force. they need something please reach out,” he The leaders of five different organizations said. participated in a phone call to discuss The second virtual meeting will take place how they are dealing with the Wednesday and also include coronavirus pandemic, and Broward House, Latinos Salud what they can do to support and Church of the Holy Spirit each other through this Song. community wide crisis. The idea of the task force “We are making sure we are arose from a conversation aware of what each other is between SFGN publisher Norm doing and be present for each Kent and Our Fund Foundation other and for our community,” President & CEO David Jobin. said Robert Griffin, Executive “It wasn’t until we got the Minister of Sunshine Cathedral. phone call from Norm that it Griffin said they will virtually became crystal clear what Our meet three times a week. On Fund needed to do, which was - Robert Griffin Monday’s call five agencies were step up as a convener,” Jobin EXECUTIVE MINISTER OF represented including the Pride said. SUNSHINE CATHEDRAL Center, Our Fund, SunServe, Jobin then contacted Sunshine Cathedral and the community leaders to bring Legal Aid Service Of Broward County. them together. They discussed “what agencies are Griffin said he is looking to bring faith specifically doing to help the community. leaders together this week as well to form Who’s staying open, who’s closing,” Griffin the Faith Leaders Response Task Force said. “We want to make sure the community to address how they can also support the knows we are there for them.” community.
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“We want to make sure the community knows we are there for them.”
Visit SFGN.com/SFGNcoronavirus2020 for continuing coverage of the global pandemic. 3.18 . 20 20 •
GAY MEN’S CHORUS BRUNCH ATTENDEE TESTS POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS Jason Parsley
Full Charge Bookkeeping Services
n attendee at the Gay Men Chorus’ 10year anniversary brunch tested positive for the coronavirus. The event attracted around 500 people and took place at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort March 8. “This is an extremely unfortunate situation, and we feel that the person who has been infected has had minimal exposure to everyone at the event,” Mark Kent, the executive director of the Chorus, wrote in an email. “ They are categorizing the majority of those who attended the brunch as ‘low risk.’” Many attendees were contacted by the Florida Department of Health including a staff member of the South Florida Gay News to let them know they may have had contact with someone who has the virus. “Obviously, I hope I am not carrying, and I am sorry if I have exposed anyone-and I will be closely monitoring and isolating from here on out,” Row Iliescu, South Florida
Photo via the Gay Men’s Chorus, Facebook.
Development Director at Equality Florida, posted on Facebook. She said the health department initially told her to self monitor for 14 days, but days later they contacted her again and told her to isolate as well. Paul Rolli, a city commissioner of Wilton Manors, announced via phone at an emergency city commission meeting Monday night that he was self quarantining because he too had attended the event. In a second post on Facebook Iliescu said she has not experienced any symptoms.
Visit SFGN.com/SFGNcoronavirus2020 for continuing coverage of the global pandemic.
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Joe Biden. Photo via Joe Biden, Facebook.
oe Biden promised to elevate women to high office at Sunday evening’s Democratic party debate. The party’s 11th debate was whittled to just two participants — Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. With Coronavirus protocols enforced, the candidates bumped elbows before engaging from socially distant (6-feet apart) podiums. The debate was moderated and broadcast by CNN and Univision. There was no studio audience. “We’ve got to restore this country’s soul, that is essential,” Biden said. Biden committed to nominating a woman as his vice president and, if elected, promised to appoint the first black woman to the Supreme Court. “It’s required they have representation now and it’s long overdue,” Biden said. As for his running mate, Biden did not name names. “There are a number of women who are qualified to be president tomorrow and I would pick a woman to be my vice president,” Biden said. Challenged by Sanders over his vote for
the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, Biden said he was the “first major player” to support gay marriage which created a ripple effect leading to an avalanche of support. Elsewhere, Biden also said he would activate the military in confronting COVID-19. “The answer is I would call out the military,” Biden said. Four states — Florida, Arizona, Illinois and Ohio hold primary elections on Tuesday. Biden leads in the delegate count, 890-736.
LGBT NOTES: Biden won a survey with 84 percent support at the winter meeting of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic caucus March 7 in Orlando. Biden’s wife, Dr. Jill Biden, was a special guest at the caucus’ leadership dinner with U.S. Congresswoman Val Demings delivering the keynote address.
White House Watch is a weekly column taking a look at the state of the 2020 presidential election.
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FAITH & PRIDE SPIRITUALITY
EVOLUTION OF OUR COMMUNAL LIVES
Join us on Facebook Live for our Shabbat service Friday night at 8pm Please join us virtually until we can be together again, holding hands and singing our beautiful prayers
Rabbi Noah Kitty
Congregation Etz Chaim
Congregation Etz Chaim
hen the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE the rabbi sages of the Jewish community were faced with an impossible situation. Their religious focus and experience were centered in the Temple, with its priesthood and sacrificial offerings. How could the people practice their religion when the center for its practice no longer existed? The Rabbis developed a new way to practice; their vision of Jewish law became a means by which ordinary people could engage with the sacred in their daily lives in a way meaningful to the vast majority. This included the formalization of study with the development of the Mishnah and the Talmud. Rather than having a central place of worship, Jews would gather in smaller groups in their individual towns, advised by the rabbi of their community who would learn with them. It’s how we still practice today. I am sharing this story to hopefully encourage anyone who is afraid of the crisis facing us now. We do not need to feel defeated due to our new normal. The necessary and essential communal response to the coronavirus is forcing a similar kind of inspired evolution, one that at least temporarily will not include large gatherings or international travel. Until this virus is somehow contained and a vaccine delivered, our lives are going to be upturned. Most of our regularly scheduled and special events have been cancelled, entire industries are watching their economy collapse, countless thousands of people might have their paychecks interrupted. This is serious. This is real. How we respond will determine how well we endure this crisis and what our society looks like when the virus is under control. In Jewish mysticism there is a concept of Sefirot, often drawn as a tree with 10 branches. Each of the branches represents an aspect of God’s Being, and two are in particular relationship with one another, Gevurah (Judgement) and Chesed (Lovingkindness). In a very human irony we pray to be seen through Chesed, all the while we look at others via Gevurah. In other words, we want (demand, expect) forgiveness while greeting the world with judgement. I know that there are religious leaders who refer to Judgement in their pronouncements, claiming that the sufferer deserved their suffering. I know that there are political leaders who are free with
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SUNDAY SERVICE 10 A.M. Rev. Rick Rhen-Sosbe, Pastor
their own judgements about the failures of others. I know how it feels to be judged, and I believe that you, dear reader, know this feeling as well. It is unpleasant, painful, scaring, and detrimental. It is not kind, nor does it help forward anyone toward a solution. What would it feel like, do you think, to see and be seen through Chesed rather than Gevurah? As I sometimes mention during a sermon, imagine you are driving down 95 towards Miami on a Friday afternoon at 5 p.m. on a holiday weekend. There is traffic everywhere and people are not on their best behavior. How easy would it be to angrily judge your countless fellow travelers? Ask yourself the question: In the hour it takes you to get from the right lane to exit Ives Dairy Rd to actually driving on Ives Dairy Rd, do you want to be filled with Judgement or be filled with Lovingkindness? Your choice. Do you spend the time contemplating your many blessings, or the many ways these strangers are annoying you? Up to you. My prayer is that you lean towards the side of Chesed, and that where there once was a quick and harsh judgement is now an easy and warm forgiveness. None of us have many answers to how we are going to manage our new normal, and few if any of us are happy about being forced to make the changes necessary to keep ourselves and our community safe. Still, here we are. From our prayer book, the message is this: …there is a better place, a promised land; that the winding way to that promise passes through the wilderness. That there is no way to get from here to there except by joining hands and marching together.
www.ChurchOfOurSaviorMCC.org MCC, Transforming Ourselves as We Transform The World
A home for your spirit. Mass Schedule: Sabado 6:00 PM misa en español • Sunday 11:00 AM mass in English • All are welcome!
Due to COV-19, Christ Lutheran Church Sunday Service is available at www.christlutheranfl.org
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A LITTLE BIT OF FAITH AND
SFGN is here for you, no matter who — or what — keeps you going. Read our Spirituality Section to stay in touch with your local religious LGBT community. The only requirement? Be yourself.
SEE MORE ONLINE AT SFGN.COM/TABLE/NEWS/RELIGION 3.18 . 20 20 •
WMG Volume 7 • Issue 7 March 18, 2020
Wilton Manors Gazette FACEBOOK.COM/GROUPS/WMGAZETTE
Wilton Manors Votes Down Special Election to Fill Mayor’s Vacancy By Sallie James Wilton Manors City commissioners on Tuesday voted not to hold a special election or appoint someone to fill the remainder of Justin Flippen’s mayoral term, noting that a special election could not be held until August according to the Supervisor of Elections. Flippen, 41, a beloved mayor, died suddenly on Feb. 25 of a brain aneurism while en route to a City Commission meeting. Flippen’s unexpected death sent shockwaves through the community and hundreds attended his memorial service last week. Flippen had recently filed to run for re-election. Flippen was first elected to the Commission in November 2008, and then picked to serve as Vice Mayor. He also served from 2008-2010 and 20142018 before being elected mayor in 2018. According to the City Charter, if a vacancy occurs and there are more than six months left in the city official’s term with no regular city election scheduled within that time period, the Commission can appoint someone to fill the vacancy. The Charter also says the city must schedule a special election 60 to 90 days after the seat becomes vacant. “The Supervisor of Election said the
earliest he could do it, was along with August primary and we only have four commission meetings between that time and the November election, It didn’t make sense,” Commissioner Paul Rolli said. City Attorney Kerry Ezrol told commissioners they could use discretion to interpret the charter because the language does not address the existing situation in Wilton Manors. “Because of the ambiguity in the charter, it’s your decision if you want to conduct a special election in August or wait until November. It’s also your decision if you want to appoint someone to fill the position,” Ezrol said. The charter contemplates an interim appointment and then a special election, he noted. Several residents expressed support.“I don’t think the special election is the way to go. I think it’s a waste of our taxpayers’ dollars,” said resident Bill Deseutels. Activist Paul Kuta spoke out against having a special election.“The Supervisor of Elections has already told you that you can’t hold an election. It’s not the cost, it’s more the confusion. This is a presidential election where we have primaries galore. I totally support what Commissioner Resnick has said. I would
THE CHARTER ALSO SAYS THE CITY MUST SCHEDULE A SPECIAL ELECTION 60 TO 90 DAYS AFTER THE SEAT BECOMES VACANT.
A view from above of City Hall in Wilton Manors. Photo via the City of Wilton Manors, Facebook.
not hold a special election. I think it would be confusing.” “Were in good hands. I would like to see us hold off,” said Doug Blevins, a member
of the Wilton Manors Drive improvement District and a member of the Charter Review Committee. He urged the Commission to forgo the idea of a special election. WMG
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • www.WMGAZETTE.com • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •
3.18 . 20 20 •
March 18, 2020 • Volume 7 • Issue 7
Fear is the new norm.
2520 N. Dixie Highway • Wilton Manors, FL 33305 Phone: 954-530-4970 Fax: 954-530-7943
By Sal Torre
Publisher • Norm Kent email@example.com
Just a few days ago, the lives of so many of us here in our Island City continued with our normal daily routines. Now the world around us has entered some altered state of being, where the norms of society have changed to a strange unimaginable new existence. Fear is the new norm. Fear of the unknown, fear for our loved ones, fear of running out of supplies, fear of jobs, fear for our finances, fear of losing income, fear for our health, fear for our safety, and on and on. Words from national leadership can rally a nation, motivate citizens to look beyond their individual concerns, and call a nation to arms to prevent disaster. Unfortunately, unlike Franklin Roosevelt whose words of “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” rallied a nation, we have Donald Trump passing the blame on to his predecessors and claiming no responsibility. Talk about an altered state of reality. COVID-19 unfortunately offers current demagogues the missing part of the equation for advancing their claim on THIS TROUBLING leadership during these challenging times — fear. REALITY GOES WAY The Island City is blessed to Control the message BEYOND THE BORDERS have the excellent leadership through mass media, OUR ISLAND CITY, WAY of our City Manager Leigh divide the nation, use Ann Henderson and a team lies to cover-up hideous BEYOND NATIONAL of dedicated staff members. motives, and exploit our BORDERS, STRETCHING This reality is an enormous fears to consolidate their WORLDWIDE IN A comfort as we move ahead grip on power. Very scary without a strong Mayor, indeed! GLOBAL COMMUNITY with a missing official on our Unfortunately, we here EQUALLY DIVIDED Commission and through the in our Island City find AS EVER IN MODERN next eight months leading up ourselves in a leadership to municipal elections that vacuum with the recent TIMES. will elect a new Mayor and loss of our Mayor at such two City Commissioners in a a time of uncertainty. The uncharted territory of that loss and what time of such uncertainty. This new altered it means for our City Commission, our city reality is both troubling and unprecedented government and the tough choices that for our residents. This troubling reality goes way beyond will need to be made in the days and weeks ahead makes the current situation even the borders our Island City, way beyond national borders, stretching worldwide in more unpredictable. Thankfully we have strong city a global community equally divided as ever management in place, ready and able to in modern times. Comfort and confidence serve our city during the troubling times in proven world leadership are severely ahead. This solid leadership team, serving lacking on the world stage. The opportunity as helmsmen for safe navigation through for deceivers and false prophets to claim rough seas, is a ray of hope and optimism leadership has been gathering momentum shining through an uncertain and stormy over the past few years. Now with such global fears and uncertainty, the dangers to our horizon.
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democratic values, our open and free society, are under the greatest threat of our lifetime. I find myself profoundly challenged to end this article with some optimism and words of hope. No one knows what tomorrow will bring for our daily lives, the lives of our loved ones, the lives of our neighbors and friends, the lives of our children and our community. I fear tomorrow as never before. Friends being laid off, businesses shutting down, schools closing, public gatherings banned, public health concerns and the safety of our family are now our new altered reality. Tomorrow morning has such uncertainty that many dread the approaching sunrise with fear rather than with hope and joy of a new day. Tomorrow brings new updates from city, county and state officials that will greatly impact our lives and challenge us all to be better people. As our city, our nation and our global community cry out for leadership through these troubling times, we must be vigilant in our beliefs, our hopes, and our desires for a better tomorrow. Each and every one of us is challenged as never before to ensure that life in our Island City and far beyond our borders shall always remain just better here. WMG
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The Wilton Manors Library. Photo via the City of Wilton Manors, Facebook.
• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • www.WMGAZETTE.com • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 16
March 18, 2020
Wilton Manors Imposes Restrictions on Businesses Amid Coronavirus Panic
By Sallie James As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, city commissioners in an emergency meeting Monday restricted how late businesses can remain open and limited capacity for gathering places. Wilton Manors commissioners also empowered City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson with authority to take any necessary future actions regarding city closures on her own unless two commissioners disagree. “These are not easy decisions,” said Commissioner Paul Rolli, who attended the meeting via phone. “We have a very large at-risk population because of the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. We really have to think about what we are going to do.” The new restrictions, effective March 17, are as follow: Restaurants, bars and gyms must close at 10 p.m., but
RULES AND RESTRICTIONS ARE CHANGING HOURLY, PLEASE VISIT THE CITY’S WEBSITE MORE INFORMATION AND SFGN.COM FOR ONGOING COVERAGE.
restaurants can do takeout and deliveries of food after 10 p.m. All businesses must have wipes and hand sanitizers available for customers and employees. Capped capacity of any facility that can host gatherings at 50 percent occupancy with a maximum of 50 people, effective through April 18. This restriction includes bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, churches, synagogues and other such facilities. Police Chief Paul O’Connell urged business owners to “trust but verify.” He said businesses will be operating on the honor system because first responders cannot be placed at risk enforcing such orders. Added Commissioner Gary Resnick about the restrictions: “Instead of thinking about how much business you might be losing tomorrow, think about how many lives you might be saving.” Commissioners also voted to cancel any meetings in any public facilities through April 18. Last Friday, the city announced it was cancelling all city events, classes, and programs including the March yard sale, a concert at Mickel Park, Brunch with the Bunny, Woof & Wine, and the Mayor’s Chess Challenge. The city is not be accepting any future facility bookings until further notice.
Wilton Manors also cancelled its spring camp, school days out program, and after school program. Those who had signed their children up may call the city’s Leisure Services Department for a refund or credit. City Parks are still open regular hours but all park programming has been cancelled. The Equality Park Garden Club has cancelled its plant fair scheduled for March 28-29 at Richardson Park. WMG
Panic Shopping at Publix
Many crucial sections have been consistently sold out in grocery stores across the nation, and the Publix at Five Points Plaza has been no exception. This Publix has posted notices on each register informing shoppers in Wilton Manors that they will be closing at 8 p.m. nightly until further notice, “to allow our store teams to conduct additional preventive sanitation and to restock product.” Photo credit: Carina Mask.
TO SEE MANY MORE PHOTOS, JOIN THE WMG GROUP ON FACEBOOK! Facebook.com/groups/WMGazette
March 18, 2020
3.18 . 20 20 •
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Scott Newton (left) and Julie Carson. Photos via Facebook.
The race to fill the Mayor’s seat is beginning do some of the things that have to be done.” Newton believes a recession is coming and to heat up. Former longtime City Commissioner and said the city is going to need someone who Mayor Scott Newton, 62, has filed paperwork can make tough decisions, much like he had to to run for the open mayoral slot in the Nov. 3 make in 2007-2008 during the last recession. The longtime city resident was the only election. But Newton isn’t alone. Commissioner Julie Carson, 58, recently straight member of the commission when he changed her paperwork to indicate that she was defeated in November 2018. “I think the next few years will be tough. It’s too will run for mayor. Carson had initially filed paperwork to run again for her current not going to be meek and happy,” Newton said. Carson said she decided to run for mayor commission seat. in the wake of Flippen’s death to The mayor’s seat is currently carry on his legacy. vacant because former “After much thought, I Mayor Justin Flippen, 41, died “AFTER MUCH decided the best way I could unexpectedly Feb. 25 of a brain THOUGHT, I DECIDED serve constituents was to run for aneurism while en route to a City mayor and to carry on Justin’s Commission meeting. THE BEST WAY legacy and to carry on many of Commissioners on March I COULD SERVE the ideas we charted in our work 10 voted not to hold a special CONSTITUENTS WAS together,” Carson said. “One of election or appoint a temporary replacement for Flippen before TO RUN FOR MAYOR the concepts is moving forward without disruption. It’s very, very the upcoming November election AND TO CARRY ON hard. (Justin) was a consensusso his seat will remain empty until JUSTIN’S LEGACY.” builder. We must continue to then. move forward, bridge the gaps and At the time of his death, - Julie Carson operate in way that is consistent Flippen was the only person who with a cohesive, collegial, had filed to run for mayor in the legislative body that we are.” upcoming election. Carson was appointed to the commission Two 4-year Commission seats, occupied by Tom Green and Julie Carson are also up in November 2008 to complete the term of for election. Green, who is vice mayor, is not a commissioner who resigned, serving until 2009. She was elected in 2010 for a two-year running for re-election. “When times get tough it’s a whole new term, and re-elected in 2012 for four years and ballgame. I want to do what is best for the city,” again in 2016 for four more years. Political newcomers Michael Bracchi, 43, said Newton, who served as mayor from 20042008 and Commissioner from 2000-2004 and and Chris Caputo, 38, have also announced 2010 to November 2018. “I feel I can help the their intentions to run for the commission. city get through some of the tough times and WMG
• • • www.WMGAZETTE.com • • • March 18, 2020
SHELLEY NOVAK AWARDS Take a look inside the 27th Annual Shelley Novak Awards, held on Saturday February 29. Held at Las Rosas, the event awarded trophies for Best Drag and Best Emcee, as well as honored much-loved LGBT activists in Miami including Herb Sosa and Pioneer Winter (pictured above). Photo credit: Carina Mask. To see more, visit SFGN on Facebook.
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My Fabulous Disease
eople ask me if our lives today feel like the early years of HIV/AIDS, and I want to scream. There is no comparison. Just stop. No one cared about people dying of AIDS in the early years of the pandemic. The stock market didn’t budge. The President didn’t hold news conferences. Billions of dollars were not spent. In the early 1980s, AIDS was killing all the right people. Homosexuals and drug addicts and Black men and women. There is no comparison to a new viral outbreak that might kill people society actually values, like your grandmother and her friends in the nursing home. To have any conversation during the early HIV pandemic meant talking about anal sex and sharing needles and condoms and religion and who God was punishing. We had to climb over mountains of social bias in order to educate people on the basic facts of risk and transmission. Social distancing was easier then, because the bodies of your friends were so consumed by dark purple skin
lesions they were barely recognizable as human. There were no congressional bills promising them paid sick leave or help with their medical bills. They were kicked out of their apartments and then died in the guest room of whomever had the space and the guts to care for them. Tens of thousands of people died of AIDS related complications before our government began to address it. Many, many, many of those people spent their last breaths in the center of protests in the streets, begging for justice and relief. Their ashes were dumped on the White House lawn. That activism has reverberations today, in the work between public health and community health advocates. That’s a difference, not a similarity. To attempt to draw blithe comparisons — oh! This feels so scary and there are lines at the grocery store and people have to stay away from each other. Hey, does this feel like when HIV happened…? — is an insult to the bravery and sacrifice of the living and the dead. There is no comparison. Fuck that. Just stop.
THE STOCK MARKET DIDN’T BUDGE. THE PRESIDENT DIDN’T HOLD NEWS CONFERENCES. BILLIONS OF DOLLARS WERE NOT SPENT.
Mark S. King writes the award-winning blog, MyFabulousDisease.com.
Our Fund’s mission is to promote responsible philanthropy in order to make South Florida the most livable community in the country for LGBT people.
Everyday Philanthropist As South Florida’s only LGBT community foundation, Our Fund Foundation improves peoples’ lives by providing various ways to give, and supporting causes within the LGBT community. Every month we will feature a local philanthropist and ask them about what inspires them to give, hopefully inspiring new everyday philanthropy. Susanne Ellman, another committed supporter, talks about what inspires her to give to South Florida causes:
Where are you from, and where do you consider home? I am from Indianapolis Indiana; I went to a small college, Hanover College, in southern Indiana. I spent the bulk of my adult life in Washington, DC, where I worked for, then retired from, IBM. My husband, Marty - also an IBM retiree - and I came to Fort Lauderdale as snowbirds, later as full-time residents. However, we have a home in Indianapolis, and I still consider Indiana home. When did you first begin giving, and what inspired you to do so? What was the first organization you gave to? My mother is my role model for giving; I watched her donate to her church and other charities, which she thoroughly vetted. My alma mater stressed regular giving to new graduates, - any amount and so annual giving became a habit very early for me. Which causes and organizations do you support with your time and resources? I have continued to give to my alma mater, and now support an endowed scholarship there. Locally, we give to Equality Florida; Gilda’s Club; Island City Stage; Savor Cinema; Slow Burn Theatre, and Abandoned Pet Rescue. What do you find most rewarding about giving to the causes you care about? There are so many benefits to giving. There are few things that feel better than knowing we’ve been able to provide
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for underserved individuals, or enabled a small theatre company to survive, or helped fund those fighting for human rights in our legislature. I’ve found an added benefit is easily making friends with others who share my values. What sort of guidance would you give to someone considering giving back to their community? I’d say - start by looking at the organizations about which you’re passionate. And understand that giving, in any amount, is so appreciated. It’s simple to ask what’s needed, and it may be that donating time is just as valuable as money! For anyone wishing to give to underserved communities, wanting guidance about what the needs are, I’d suggest starting with Our Fund.
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3.18 . 20 20 •
COLUMN LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
WITH LOVE TO ANDREW GILLUM AS A FLAWED MAN & A CHRISTIAN H
aving heard from multiple friends (who are otherwise not remotely engaged politically) in the last 72 hours about the scandalous nature of this, I think this bears hearing in our community. A pause for compassion is needed. In 7th grade, I fell in love with a girl who got me “saved.” She arranged for a friend, who I never met, to gift me a Bible. I read it two times, then three. It was one of those “Student Life Companion” Bibles that interrupted scripture to tell us what we needed to think… That the AIDS crisis was a form of God’s justice on sinners… That the end times should be welcomed and celebrated… I’ve grown a lot in the 15 years since then. But I struggled. By day, I was a teachers’ pet thriving in advanced courses at a public school. I had a girlfriend I loved and laid on a trampoline under the stars with. At a certain Cuban Messianic Jewish teacher’s suggestion, I even watched Bill O’Reilly on Fox News. At night, I listened to gay phone dating lines and surfed AOL chat rooms to explore my interests in men. It would be 3 long painful years before I came out. If I can grow, so can anyone. Recently, we all rolled our eyes as former Republican Congressman Aaron Schock finally came out after years of scandal, whispers, and anti-gay press release positions from his offices in my birth state of Illinois. Today, we Florida Democrats are rocked by the revelation that Friday night, rising Democratic star, rumored veepstakes contender, and near-miss loser of an election by half the population of Lauderhill (32,463 votes) in a state of over 21 million, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was caught sick in the bathroom of a ritzy Miami hotel at 11 p.m. in the company of a man described by the NY Post as a “Rent Boy.”
The first instinct has been to condemn him. Media are hailing the end of the CNN Contributor’s career. Internet trolls are commenting on the overdose victim (a self-described certified nurse)’s Facebook page with hateful comments like “Disgusting human beings like you don’t deserve to be a live (sic). Do more meth!!” Pensacola Congressman Matt Gaetz, tweeting from home in self-quarantine, is taunting Gillum for the incident, with the venom and meanness we expect from his hero, President Trump. I wrote my first “Letter to the Editor” here in SFGN in June last year about the scourge of meth in our community. I have a handful of friends who’ve either struggled to quit meth or who’ve come across it in sexual situations and who’ve become addicts. Some are high-functioning. Others you can see decaying in front of you. It’s a scourge in South Florida, specifically in our gay community, and we need to face it with clear eyes and kindness. As a man who’s had a journey of my own in life - as a son to a single Mom, as a foster kid moved from home to home, as a Christian grappling with the intersection of faith and identity, as a progressive coming of age in a world where weed is easier to find than a job with healthcare - I say we in the LGBT community should be the first to offer up patience, compassion, and love to these two men who, right now regardless of circumstances, are hurting. We who’ve been called “faggot,” been told to kill ourselves, been cast out of our own families, bullied at school, shunned in
Andrew Gillum. Photo via Facebook.
IT’S A SCOURGE IN SOUTH FLORIDA, SPECIFICALLY IN OUR GAY COMMUNITY, AND WE NEED TO FACE IT WITH CLEAR EYES AND KINDNESS.
our faith communities… We should know how much it means to reach out with love right now. Andrew’s asked for privacy as he’s home with his FAMU college sweetheart of 11 years, his Kindergarten-aged twin daughters, and 2-year-old son. Let’s give them the peace any of us would want. Let’s respect his journey, and love those of us facing challenges whether it’s with alcohol, drugs, or the very identity of who we are. In the day since I wrote this, Andrew’s committed to checking himself in to
LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD! Submit your own letter to Jason.Parsley@sfgn.com 22
a substance abuse facility saying in part, “I witnessed my father suffer from alcoholism and I know the damaging effects it can have when untreated. I also know that alcoholism is often a symptom of deeper struggles. I am committed to doing the personal work to heal fully and show up in the world as a more complete person.” Let’s all send him warmth on his journey.
Gay Christian, Flawed Man, Gillum 2018 Canvasser
ARTS UNITED EXHIBIT AT BONA GALLERY
On Thursday, March 5, Bona Italian Restaurant Art Gallery hosted Arts United’s March solo art exhibit featuring Kathy Linden. Linden, pictured on the left next to several of the exhibition’s guests, is an award-winning artist who “finds pure joy in the application of heavy texture and the use of unbridled color.” Photo credit: J.R. Davis. To see more, visit SFGN on Facebook.
3.18 . 20 20 •
PERFORMERS, ARTS ORGANIZATIONS RESPOND TO CORONAVIRUS WITH UNCERTAINTY Visit SFGN.com/SFGNcoronavirus2020 for continuing coverage of the global pandemic. J.W. Arnold
xactly how much is “an abundance” of caution? Over the past week, my inbox has been flooded with press releases and statements announcing cancellations and postponements of concerts, theater productions and art openings, all in response to the growing concern about the coronavirus. Just a week ago, some television pundits were still proclaiming the entire situation a politically motivated “hoax” designed to embarrass the president. Administration officials contradicted Centers for Disease Control experts and confusion ensued. Even before President Trump finally declared a national emergency on Friday, March 13, arts presenters and promoters were taking proactive steps. Local Pride organizers and music festival producers announced postponements or cancellations of Pride of the Americas, Miami Beach and Palm Beach Prides and the Tortuga Music Festival in “an abundance of caution.” They were quickly followed by most regional theater companies and eventually the three major performing arts centers. The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida was among the first to make the difficult decision on March 10, cancelling a pair of concerts originally scheduled for late April: “The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida is dedicated to the health and safety of our members and the public. Since a large number of our singing members are in the age range that the CDC has requested avoid public gatherings, we have made the difficult decision to immediately suspend all inperson meetings of the Chorus, which includes rehearsals.” The performing arts centers have announced temporary closures, initially suspending performances through the end of March or early April. “Out of an abundance of caution, and in an effort to help limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Arsht Center has made the difficult but necessary decision to suspend performances and events at the Arsht Center through Sunday, April 5. This is in line with the directive issued by Miami-Dade County today,” said president Johann Zietsman in a press statement. Others managed to squeeze in one last weekend of shows, including the Wick Theatre in Boca Raton with the premiere of its production of “A Chorus Line,” which announced a postponement out of “an abundance of caution,” and independent producer Ronnie Larsen, whose musical “Come Out! Come Out!” played to full houses at Wilton Theater
PERHAPS MORE CONCERNING IS THE LIVELIHOOD OF THE MANY PROFESSIONAL PERFORMERS, MANY LIVING SHOW TO SHOW, PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK, UNCERTAIN WHEN THEY MAY BE ABLE TO WORK AGAIN.
Pembroke Pines Theatre of the Performing Arts managed to squeeze in one performance of “Urinetown” before closing the production due to COVID-19 precautions. Credit: Ron Pollack Photography.
Factory in Wilton Manors through Sunday afternoon. And new restrictions being enacted in cities across the country threaten to close bars and restaurants where cabaret and drag performers eek out a living to packed houses of locals and tourists alike — when there isn’t a global pandemic. Perhaps more concerning is the livelihood of the many professional performers, many living show to show, paycheck to paycheck, uncertain when they may be able to work again. As the prognosis for a quick return to normalcy continues to dim, many are taking to social media to both express both their frustrations and hopes while showing solidarity with their colleagues. Taking to Facebook, Aaron Bravo, a cast member in “Urinetown” at Pembroke Pines Theatre of the Performing Arts (PPTOPA), summed up the wide range of feelings local artists are experiencing: “It’s rare that a show ends and I get the post show blues.
But I’ve never been a part of a show that got cut short. Unfortunately, PPTOPA’s production of Urinetown has been canceled after one performance… However, there is still plenty to be grateful for. We were able to put on a show for one amazing audience, who were EXTREMELY receptive, reactive, and appreciative of the work we put into making this show.” Producer and playwright Larsen said the shutdown could be devastating for small companies because ticketholders instinctively ask for refunds in situations like these. Their best hope, according to industry experts, is to take this recent meme to heart: “If you have tickets to a live performing arts event from a non-profit organization — such as a theater, dance, music, opera, comedy or literary event — that has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus, please consider donating the money to the organization instead of asking for a refund. This is the kind of thing that kills arts groups. Thousands of professional jobs — in full-time, part-time and contract positions; people who work hard and love what they do — are at stake.”
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