SFGN 12/23/20 V11iss51

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Christian Ulvert (left), pictured next to his husband. Photo via Facebook.

DECEMBER 23, 2020 VOL. 11 // ISSUE 51









December 23, 2020 • Volume 11 • Issue 51 2520 N. Dixie Highway • Wilton Manors, FL 33305 Phone: 954-530-4970 Fax: 954-530-7943

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fter struggling to keep his sexual orientation a secret, Hig Roberts is the first elite men’s Alpine skier to come out as gay. In an interview with the New York Times, Roberts said that by coming out publicly he hopes others are encouraged to be themselves as well. “I just woke up one morning and I said, ‘Enough is enough,’” Roberts told the Times. “I love this sport more than anything — I’m so lucky and privileged to be doing this — but I can’t go on another day not trying to achieve the person that I am meant to be. Which I think for each and every one of us, one of those main goals needs to be happiness and authenticity.” One of the reasons why he decided to come out was because of his younger brother Murphy, who taught him one of his most valuable lessons: live every day as your authentic self. Roberts told the Times that Murphy was the “most special person” in his life, so when he died at the age of 22 in 2016 after a diabetic seizure during a hike, it was a blow that almost ended his career. So, after a break from skiing, Roberts wore a helmet with the slogan “Send it for Murph.” Roberts wants to help foster spaces where athletes are comfortable enough to come out while still playing. He hopes to get involved with Olympic athletes in the future, whether that’s “through agency or managerial positions, getting involved in IOC or the USSP, or groups like Wasserman Media Group or LA Foundation, who are

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Hig Roberts. Photo via @higroberts, Instagram.

realizing the potential we have here, to change this,” according to Out. For now, he offers a simple piece of advice for queer athletes: be happy. “You can drive yourself into the darkest realms of holes and loneliness. I think a lot of people are doing that right now, but you

also have just as easy an ability to change that narrative for yourself,” he said to Out. “If it’s too scary to do it, you’re not a coward. You’re not a weak person.” Roberts looks forward to living freely, the way his brother taught him to. “I am gay,” Roberts told the Times. “It’s part of me and I’m proud of it, and I’m ready to be happy.”

COVER 1: Hig Roberts. Photo via @higroberts, Instagram. COVER 2: Christian Ulvert (left), pictured next to his husband. Photo via Facebook.

Associated Press


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NLGJA Journalist of the Year SOUTH FLORIDA GAY NEWS.COM, INC. — — FOUNDED, DECEMBER, 2009 BY PIER GUIDUGLI AND NORM KENT 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.

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ears before Christian Ulvert became advisor to many of South Florida’s most powerful politicians, he feared coming out as a young gay man would wreck his blossoming career in government.

Ulvert, then 22, was about to begin a Among his current and former political 2004 graduate assistantship in the Florida clients: Gelber, now mayor of Miami Beach; Legislative Democratic Caucus office. Back recently elected Miami-Dade County Mayor then, marriage equality and ending the Daniella Levine Cava; Miami-Dade State military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy were Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle; national and statewide hot-button issues, Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg; and Ulvert’s boyfriend at the time suggested state Sen. Jason Pizzo of Miami; state Sen. he tell his new caucus boss, Perry Thurston, Jr. of Fort state Rep. Dan Gelber, he’s gay. Lauderdale; state Rep. Allison “I remember going in to tell Tant of Tallahassee; and Rep. Dan that I needed to share David Richardson (now a something and that I understood Miami Beach commissioner), it had an impact, and, if it was who in 2012 became Florida’s his decision, I would gladly step first openly gay state lawmaker. into a different role,” Ulvert Ulvert also handles public recalled. affairs consulting for Magic “I’ll never forget: Dan looked City Casino, United Healthcare at me and said, ‘I can’t believe and LIUNA Construction Trade you came in here and judged me. Union, among others. I believe in you and your work. “This business is all about So get back to work and never relationship building and allow anybody — never give the being validated,” said Ulvert, - Christian Ulvert authority to someone to control who was Miami born into a your life and decide anything Nicaraguan family, and raised but your value based on your work.’ It was by a single mother and his grandmother. a good lesson for me, and it kind of liberated Ulvert attended MAST Academy high me to start coming out more.” school on Key Biscayne and eventually Today, Ulvert owns Edge Communications, became student body president for Miamia 12-year-old company self-described on its Dade County Public Schools, an advisor to website as “Florida’s Premier Progressive the county’s school board. After graduation, Political Consultants.” Florida State University admitted him on


Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (left) and Christian Ulvert. Courtesy photo.


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NEWS LOCAL  CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE a full scholarship to the school’s Service that eventually led to “a defining moment Scholars program. in my life” — getting to know his future “They accept eight to 10 students a year,” husband, Carlos Andrade. Ulvert said. “It’s very much like a class. It’s a They met in 2010, while Ulvert was full scholarship program. And we basically doing work for Gelber on his laptop at the immerse ourselves in civic engagement and Barnes & Noble Starbucks on Miracle Mile student service in the Greater Tallahassee in Coral Gables. “There was no place to sit area.” and [Carlos] basically said, ‘Would you mind Through the program, Ulvert met Gelber, sharing a table?’” who later encouraged him to enter FSU’s Ulvert, 38, and Venezuelan-born Andrade, master’s program in public administration who turns 41 on Dec. 21, have been together and policy. ever since. After Ulvert received his They got engaged in 2011 in master’s degree in 2006, New York City’s Central Park. “HE TAKES ON Gelber hired him to be his “He said we needed to talk and communications director and I thought, ‘Uh oh, he’s going to CAUSES. HE’S legislative policy advisor. end this,’” Andrade recalled. NOT AFRAID TO Ulvert founded Edge “Instead, he said, ‘Please marry TAKE ON A CAUSE me.’” Communications in 2008, the same year Gelber ran for state Ulvert and Andrade, who EVEN IF IT MIGHT senate. owns Fiori and Leaves, a MEAN HE MAKES Edge’s first political client: company that produces highGelber, who won his senate end floral arrangements with LESS MONEY race, and nine years later — deliveries in Miami-Dade and OR UPSETS also with Ulvert’s help — got Broward counties, wed two SOMEBODY.” elected Beach mayor. years later in Washington, Gelber recalls meeting D.C., just after the June 2013 - Rep. Dan Gelber Ulvert: “He was a young man Supreme Court ruling in favor trying to make his way in a of Edith Windsor, who sued the pretty tough world.” IRS to recognize her 2007 Canadian marriage “There are a lot mercenaries in the to the late Thea Spyer. campaign world. He has an immense In the landmark case, Windsor demanded number of principles, in addition to a warrior and won the same unlimited estate tax spirit,” Gelber said. “He has good instincts exemption automatically granted to other and judgment and he’s very hard working. widows in opposite-sex marriages. That’s what makes him so good in his job. The 5-4 Supreme Court ruling prompted But it’s really his principles that make him Ulvert and Andrade’s fast decision to marry, so important in the community. He takes Ulvert said. on causes. He’s not afraid to take on a cause “I felt like there’s no point of getting even if it might mean he makes less money or married if we were not going to be recognized upsets somebody.” federally or in our state. It just felt like we Ulvert describes Gelber’s early support for could go to another state, sure, but then we him as “a pivotal moment in my life,” one come home and it’s like nothing happened,”

Christian Ulvert (left) with husband Carlos Andrade. Courtesy photo.

he said. “When the Windsor decision came out, we decided that having federal recognition was an important step.” The following March, Ulvert and Andrade joined seven other same-sex couples, SAVE LGBT and the ACLU of Florida to sue the state of Florida to recognize their out-ofstate marriages. “I was the chair of SAVE,” Ulvert said. “I had worked for the state and I could not list Carlos as a beneficiary for my state benefits because the state of Florida didn’t recognize gay marriage. We were not legally married in the eyes of the state and I could not designate him as a spouse. That gave us a premise to build a case, working with the ACLU, to become plaintiffs.” U.S District Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Tallahassee ruled Aug. 21, 2014, in favor of Ulvert, Andrade and the other plaintiffs. Less than five months later, after federal appeals courts let the Hinkle ruling stand, it took effect and Florida began marrying

same-sex couples and recognizing those legally married elsewhere. On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of James Obergefell, who sued the state of Ohio to recognize his Maryland marriage to dying husband John Arthur, and declared marriage equality a constitutional right throughout the nation. Ulvert said his friend Joe Falk, a longtime SAVE board member and currently the LGBT rights group’s treasurer, persuaded him to step out of his comfort zone — working behind the scenes — to become a plaintiff with Andrade in the federal marriage case. “Joe said this is going to be one of those moments that you’re going to look back and say you didn’t just help history, you defined what history was being made.” Andrade added: “Seeing Christian, the voice behind the scenes to be in front fighting for equality, I was very proud. To see the love of your life doing good things — not just for us, but for couples like us.”

Journalist Steve Rothaus covered LGBT issues for 22 years at the Miami Herald. Carlos Andrade (left), Rep. Dan Gelber and Christian Ulvert. Courtesy photo.


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Lisa Keen

Keen News Service


n 2020, the nation faced two existential threats: an out-of-control coronavirus pandemic that killed more than 300,000 people in the U.S. in less than 12 months, and an erratic, self-obsessed Republican president whose administration withheld support from states with Democratic governors and held campaign rallies where hundreds of people gathered closely together without masks.

The threats blended as President Donald Trump allowed the pandemic to spread and openly denied the results of the November election which he lost by seven million popular votes and 74 Electoral College votes. And while both of these threats dominated the news throughout 2020, there were some LGBT-specific events that stood out for the history books. Here are our candidates for 2020’s Top 10 LGBT news stories:



President Trump named a gay man to a cabinetlevel position Feb. 20. Richard Grenell, a longtime Republican gay activist and staunch Trump supporter, became the nation’s new Acting Director of National Intelligence. The appointment, albeit a temporary one, made Grenell, who had been serving as ambassador to Germany, the first openly gay person to serve in a cabinet-level position. Trump announced the appointment in a Twitter post Feb. 19, between posts admiring the long line of people waiting to see him at a campaign rally in Arizona. The appointment did not require Senate confirmation, and the White House indicated the president would appoint a “permanent nominee” as soon as March 11. But Grenell stayed on in the post until late May. The appointment was quickly criticized by


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a wide range of people who said Grenell has no qualifications or experience to justify the appointment to such a high position. Others suggested the existing Acting Director of National Intelligence was being ousted over Trump’s dismay over a classified briefing the DNI office gave to the House Intelligence Committee. That briefing reportedly told lawmakers that Russia is trying to interfere in the 2020 elections, in favor of a Trump re-election. Grenell continued to serve as ambassador to Germany while holding the title Acting Director of National Intelligence. He left the ambassador post shortly after his stint as DNI ended in late May. Grenell then began work organizing LGBT support for Trump’s re-election.


MORE LGBT PEOPLE WIN IN CONGRESS Two African American gay men won seats to the U.S. House in November, bringing to 11 the number of LGBT people in the U.S. Congress. They are the first African American LGBT members of Congress, and their first weeks preparing for service indicate they are likely to make a significant impact. Mondaire Jones, elected to New York’s 17th Congressional seat, made history again when other first-term Democratic members of the U.S. House elected him to represent them at the weekly Democratic leadership meetings.

Pete Buttigieg walks with Joe Biden, who later won the election. Photo via Pete Buttigieg, Facebook.

Jones was selected to be part of a council which advises House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on who will serve on various House committees. And Speaker Pelosi announced Dec. 18 that Jones, an attorney who worked under then-U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to vet nominees for federal court seats, would be appointed to the House Judiciary Committee. Ritchie Torres spent seven years representing the Bronx on the New York City Council, where his work focused on helping to ease housing and other problems for people with low incomes. After beating out a large field of contenders for the Democratic nomination, he won the general election in November for the 15th Congressional seat for New York. Torres, who lived in public housing as a child, told the New York Post his priority would be “to fight for full federal funding for public housing.” Speaker Pelosi announced December 17 that Torres would be the only first-term member to be appointed to the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees “all components of the nation’s housing and financial services sectors…”


BUTTIGIEG BECOMES A CONTENDER At the end of January 2020, Pete Buttigieg was in an unprecedented position for an openly gay presidential contender: He was polling second in a New York Times poll of likely voters in Iowa just days ahead of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary voting. Buttigieg’s being gay made him stand out in the first few months of his campaign last year, earning him a surge of media attention that his relatively obscure reputation as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, might not have inspired. But focus on that character trait died down as Buttigieg introduced voters to the rest of his resumé and his ability to thoughtfully respond to issues and debate. Polling indicated Buttigieg was winning over a wide range of supporters. Voters were seeing him as the second most intelligent candidate (behind U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren), appreciating his having served in Afghanistan, and liking his willingness to share his religious

NEWS NATIONAL beliefs. Buttigieg came in first place in Iowa, with 26.2 percent of the vote, a 10 a point ahead of second place U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. In New Hampshire, he came in second behind Sanders. His success quickly brought on some hostile attempts to derail his campaign. Right-wing talk radio host Rush Limbaugh told listeners he thought Democrats were probably worried that one of their frontrunners was a “gay guy” who “loves to kiss his husband on the debate stage.” In Nevada, Buttigieg fell to third place behind former Vice President Joe Biden (in second) and Sanders (in first). When Biden won the South Carolina primary, Buttigieg came in fourth with only eight percent of the vote, and exit polling indicated he had won less than three percent of the votes among African Americans, a critical constituency for a Democratic presidential victory. Two days before Super Tuesday voting, Buttigieg acknowledged that “the path has narrowed to a close for our candidacy” and withdrew from the race. He quickly endorsed Biden and was given a high-profile speaking slot on the last night of the Democratic National Convention. LGBTQ Victory Fund President Annise Parker called Buttigieg’s campaign for the Democratic nomination a “revolution in American politics, forever transforming what is possible for an LGBTQ candidate and making clear America will elect an openly LGBTQ president.”


BUTTIGIEG NOMINATED TO BIDEN’S CABINET Following Joe Biden’s election as the next president, there was much anticipation about the possibility of an important appointment for Pete Buttigieg. On Dec. 16, Biden held a special news conference to announce his appointment of Buttigieg as his Secretary of Transportation. It marked the first time an openly LGBT person has been appointed to a full-fledged seat on a presidential Cabinet. At age 38, Buttigieg will, if confirmed, be the youngest person on Biden’s Cabinet. “The Biden-Harris cabinet will be an historic cabinet, a cabinet that looks like America, a cabinet that taps into the best of America, a cabinet that is opening doors and breaking down barriers and accessing the full range of talent,” said Biden in his announcement. He called Buttigieg “one of the smartest people you’ll ever meet” and a “policy wonk with a big heart.” And he noted that Buttigieg’s husband, Chasten, “has become a close friend of Jill’s and mine.” Buttigieg thanked Biden for the appointment and acknowledged the historic importance of his appointment as an openly gay man. “I’m mindful that the eyes of history are on this appointment, knowing that this is the first time an American president has ever sent an openly

LGBTQ cabinet member to the Senate for confirmation,” said Buttigieg. “I can remember watching the news, 17 years old in Indiana, seeing a story about an appointee of President Clinton named to be an ambassador, attacked and denied a vote in the Senate because he was gay, ultimately able to serve only by recess appointment.” He was referring to James Hormel, who Clinton appointed to serve as ambassador to Luxembourg in 1987. Buttigieg’s appointment must now go before the U.S. Senate for confirmation. The Department of Transportation oversees the safety and efficiency of the nation’s transportation systems, including the airlines, railways, public transit, highways, maritime shipping, and oil pipelines. His nomination will go before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, currently headed by Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi. That could change dramatically if Democrats win both of Georgia’s Senate seats in the Jan. 5 run-off.



Photo credit: Ted Eytan, via Flickr.

non-discrimination laws violates their First Amendment freedom to exercise of their religious beliefs that hostile to LGBT people. Opponents of such arguments say people and businesses have a First Amendment right to believe what they want but, if they voluntarily operate in the public arena, they must abide by laws governing the public, including laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. At year’s end, the Supreme Court had not yet issued its opinion, but the result, said LGBT legal activists, could have far-reaching consequences for the LGBT community.

In February, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would review a lower court decision that had that held a Catholic foster care agency could not discriminate against samesex couples. It was troubling news for LGBT legal activists. The conflict had been a longstanding one with implications beyond churchrun organizations and foster care. It could have impact on THE NATION’S HIGHEST conflicts involving business vendors who have religious COURT ANNOUNCED SUPREME COURT RULES objections to serving same-sex A 6 TO 3 DECISION BARS WORKPLACE couples. DISCRIMINATION JUNE 15 THAT HOLDS A The oral argument was held Nov. 4, one day after FEDERAL LAW BARRING In what was perhaps the the presidential election, DISCRIMINATION ON most stunning U.S. Supreme when it was not yet clear Court victory in history for whether Democrat Joe Biden THE BASIS OF “SEX” LGBT people, the nation’s had unseated incumbent IN EMPLOYMENT ALSO highest court announced a Republican Donald Trump. 6 to 3 decision June 15 that BARS DISCRIMINATION And it was only the third day holds a federal law barring that the court’s newest member, BASED ON “SEXUAL discrimination on the basis Amy Coney Barrett, was ORIENTATION” AND of “sex” in employment also taking part in oral arguments. bars discrimination based The presidential election “GENDER STATUS.” on “sexual orientation” and and Barrett’s lightning speed “gender status.” The court’s confirmation to take the seat decision came in three cases testing the reach held for 27 years by the court’s most progressive member, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, overshadowed of Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act in one the significance of the two-hour-long argument 33-page opinion consolidated under Bostock v. Clayton County. In words that will no doubt be in Fulton v. Philadelphia. Fulton was the latest in a long line of lawsuits highlighted for many years to come, Justice Neil that have attempted to secure an exemption for Gorsuch (a Trump appointee who replaced the some people and businesses to laws prohibiting late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia) wrote: discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Those arguing for the TURN THE PAGE exemptions claim that requiring they obey the


“Ours is a society of written laws. Judges are not free to overlook plain statutory commands on the strength of nothing more than suppositions about intentions or guesswork about expectations. In Title VII, Congress adopted broad language making it illegal for an employer to rely on an employee’s sex when deciding to fire that employee. We do not hesitate to recognize today a necessary consequence of that legislative choice: An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law.” “This is a huge victory not just for LGBTQ people but for our country,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter. “Today’s decision will be remembered as a watershed in the history of LGBTQ rights, even as our country continues to grapple with the brutal legacy of racism.” The 6 to 3 decision put Gorsuch and Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. on the side of the court’s more progressive four justices. And, statistically speaking, it established Roberts and Gorsuch as moderates on issues relating to LGBT-specific cases.


RUTH BADER GINSBURG DIES The most LGBT supportive justice on the U.S. Supreme Court died in September: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The 87-year-old legal giant succumbed following a years-long struggle against pancreatic cancer. Best known for her historic work on behalf of securing equal rights for women, she was also a steadfast supporter of equal rights for other groups, including LGBT people.

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NEWS NATIONAL  CONTINUED FROM PREVIOUS PAGE “While Justice [Anthony] Kennedy authored the most important LGBT rights decisions, Justice Ginsburg was the most important voice for LGBT people on the Court,” said Minter. Her voting record was the most consistently pro-LGBT record of any justice on the bench. In the 15 LGBT-related decisions before the U.S. Supreme Court during her 27 years there, Ginsburg voted in favor of equal rights for LGBT people 13 times. She provided the pivotal fifth vote in several LGBT victories, including Hollingsworth v. Perry, which led to California’s allowing same-sex couples to marry in 2013, and U.S. v. Windsor, which struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act that same year. She was also the fifth vote on Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, which struck down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples. And in June of this year, she was one of six justices to rule, in Bostock v. Clayton, that the language in Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act that prohibits discrimination in employment “on the basis of sex” also covers discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Within days of Ginsburg’s death, President Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett, a federal appeals judge who LGBT groups had adamantly opposed for a Seventh Circuit seat, saying her “religiously-infused moral beliefs would inform her judicial decision-making.” U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rushed through Barrett’s confirmation, and the Senate confirmed her nomination by a 52 to 48 almost party-line vote.


RACIAL RECKONING IN A POWERFUL MOVEMENT Following a steady stream of incidents around the country in which white police officers killed unarmed Black men, Black Lives Matter — started by three Black women, two of whom identify as queer — organized peaceful protests that attracted the support and participation of millions of people. The queer co-founders, Alicia Garza and Patrisse Cullors, along with co-founder Opal Tometi, started Black Lives Matter in 2013, with a mission statement that also embraced, “the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum.” In 2020, it became a major political force, organizing non-violent demonstrations around the world to protest police brutality against Black people. Its movement grew dramatically following the highly publicized killing of a Minneapolis man, George Floyd, by a white police officer who arrested Floyd for allegedly trying to pass a counterfeit bill. The Black Lives Matter name became a chant and, as several polls indicated, as many as 26 million Americans participated in protests inspired by the group’s voice. The New York Times reported that “Black Lives Matter may be the largest movement in U.S. History.” “…While the group isn’t necessarily directing each protest,” stated a July 3 New York Times report, “it provides materials, guidance and a framework for new activists…. [and those] activists are taking to social media to quickly share protest details to a wide audience.” Quoting a Stanford University professor of social movements, the article ended: “It looks, for all the world, like these protests are achieving what very few do: setting in motion a period of significant, sustained, and widespread social, political change. We appear to be experiencing a social change tipping point — that is as rare in society as it is potentially consequential.”



Protesters stand inside of a shop window while holding up signs. Photo via PxHere.


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Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden won the popular vote for president Nov. 3 and the Electoral College vote Dec. 14. There was conflicting information over how strongly LGBT voters supported Biden. Exit polls conducted by the National Election Pool for the New York Times and major television networks found that 61 percent of surveyed voters who identified as LGBT said they voted for Biden, while 28 percent voted for Trump. (The LGBT data was based on approximately 1,100 self-identified

voters, or seven percent of 15,590 voters.) The 28 percent for Trump was twice as many LGBT votes as he got in 2016, when he beat Democrat Hillary Clinton. But voting data from precincts with heavily LGBT populations suggested LGBT voters set new records in their support for Biden and new lows for Trump. Heavily LGBT precincts in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco and in the popular LGBT vacation town of Provincetown showed 91 percent or more voters supported the Democratic ticket of Biden and Senator Kamala Harris. Support for Trump ran between only two and eight percent. In the heavily LGBT town of Wilton Manor, Florida, support for Biden ran between 79 and 82 percent; Trump support there fell to between 17 and 19 percent. In five heavily LGBT neighborhoods in Philadelphia, Biden won between 84 and 92 percent of the vote. This higher percentage of support for Biden was supported by a survey of 800 LGBT voters just after the election. That survey, commissioned by the national LGBT media group GLAAD, found 81 percent of LGBT voters supported Biden and 14 percent supported Trump. Regardless of the margins, the LGBT community is expected to fare much better under Biden than it has under Trump.


COVID CHANGED EVERYTHING A virulent new coronavirus emerged in January 2020 and was dubbed COVID-19, standing for Coronavirus Disease first identified in 2019. The virus emerged from China but, by March, there were enough cases springing up around the U.S that public health officials called for immediate shutdowns of schools, businesses, restaurants, and public gatherings of all types. As the pandemic grew and continued into April and May, many LGBT bars and restaurants began to close permanently. The loss of revenue from the advertising those businesses would typically buy from local LGBT newspapers —including loss of sites where such papers could be easily distributed to the community — soon caused many LGBT newspapers to suffer, too. Many had to cut back on staff and publish online only. By June, in most cities, including New York City, the LGBT community canceled its annual pride parades and celebrations, abruptly cutting off what for many organizations was one of their most revenue-producing events of the year. CenterLink, a national coalition of LGBT community centers, said in May that over half its members were having to cancel fundraising events and that one-third expected they would have to shut down operations within two months, because of COVID.

Scientists around the world have been rushing for a solution to COVID-19. Photo via PxHere.

The Trevor Project, a national group that works to prevent suicide among LGBT youth, said it has seen a surge in young people seeking help during the COVID pandemic. A poll of 800 LGBT people in November found that 54 percent of LGBTQ voters considered the COVID-19 response the most important issue in deciding how to vote. Thirty-six percent of the respondents said a close friend or family member had tested positive for COVID, 29 percent lost their job or saw a reduction in work, 11 percent had to change their living arrangements, and 10 percent lost a close friend or family who died from COVID-19. A report from Human Rights Campaign estimated that more than five million LGBT people work in industries “heavily impacted by the COVID-19 epidemic,” such as restaurants, hospitals, schools, and retail. A report from the National LGBT Cancer Network indicated that the LGBT community uses tobacco at rates 50 percent higher than the general population, making them particularly vulnerable to the respiratory virus. And a study by the Movement Advancement Project found that 45 percent of 47 nonprofit LGBT organizations surveyed had to reduce their 2020 budgets by an average of about 17 percent. At the end of the year, there was a growing concern about a new strain of the virus (called S gene variant) in the United Kingdom that appeared to be spreading even more easily. But several nations, including the UK and the U.S., have begun inoculating citizens with newly develop vaccines which experts believe will still be effective in stopping even this variation of the virus. And starting Jan. 20, with the inauguration of a new president, many expect the U.S. response to fighting the pandemic will, at last, get a serious level of priority and resources from the White House.

Lisa Keen is the Chief Correspondent for Keen News Service, a professional news organization specializing in national political and legal news that involves or affects gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

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ne of the controversial stories out of Florida this year had nothing to do with the pandemic or Donald Trump. It involved a law enforcement sting operation — one that smacked of targeting gay men, experts say.

The sting took place in September in a Tampa-area park. That it was the month before the general election isn’t an accident either. Critics say the style of operation, often coincides with an election season. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister posted a series of YouTube videos to announce the arrest of 11 men in “Operation Park Cleanup.” He called it a sex sting, many in the LGBT community said it had a feel of the anti-gay policing era. “While it is true that public parks are not the proper place to engage in sexual activity, what is most concerning about these types of investigations is that the police often encourage the very behavior that they claim to be fighting against,” said Russell Cormican, a Broward County attorney well versed in defending gay men against these types of charges. “Undercover decoy officers often act provocatively and flirt with unsuspecting men in an effort to entice them to go further than they normally would. By doing so, the police can sometimes cross the line into entrapment, which would constitute a legal defense to the crimes charged.” In addition to the timing, other circumstances seem to follow a pattern. Undercover deputies try to engage with men at a public park or, in some cases, an adult store. The deputies then accuse the men of agreeing to have sex or engaging in some other ostensibly nefarious activity. Arrests and widespread publicity come quickly, shaking the accused who barely have a chance to digest what’s happening. “These vile acts by these men took place in a park, the same place where our children play,” Chronister, who won re-election Nov. 3 with 55% of the vote, said in one of the YouTube posts. “These men made these parks their personal playground for their deviant behavior. It will not be tolerated.” Chad Chronister, Sheriff. Photo via the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.


• 12. 23.2020

NEWS STATE The “vile acts” and “deviant behavior” exposing their sex organs. were low-level misdemeanors on par with a Police claimed they investigated the store trespassing charge. after multiple complaints about public The men weren’t accused of human intercourse and other sex at the business. trafficking, forcing themselves on anyone, One detective working undercover would or being around children. None of the areas testify in court that public sexual activity in targeted in “Operation Park Cleanup” had the theater area of the store offended him. playgrounds. He said patrons solicited and groped him. “Sheriff Chronister says it’s the accused A Broward County judge eventually men that turned the park into a ‘deviant ruled that what the men were doing in a playground,’ but it will be important to private booth in an adult bookstore was evaluate whether his own officers guided their business — it was not done in a public them towards that path through behavior of place. The judge said customers could expect their own,” Cormican added. privacy while in an area of the business Chronister’s office sent the names and where consensual sexual activity occurs in mug shots of all 11 men, ranging in age from the presence of other consenting adults. 37 to 76, to news outlets and blasted them Prosecutors later dismissed charges out on their social media against at least two men who channels. had been accused of exposing The men were ridiculed, their sex organs, but the harassed and threatened damage had been done. online — some were outed “Of course these charges to family, friends and work are being thrown out,” associates. Smith said. “These men are Critics say the operations getting arrested and publicly are rarely a response to any humiliated for doing what “THESE MEN ARE public complaints. Tinder and Grindr users do GETTING ARRESTED Prosecutors often end daily but without the app — AND PUBLICLY up dropping the charges or seek other consenting adults HUMILIATED FOR agreeing to end the case in for sex.” exchange for defendants After widespread publicity DOING WHAT TINDER completing a pretrial of the story and mug shots AND GRINDR USERS DO intervention program. splashed on local TV news DAILY BUT WITHOUT According a Tampa Bay and within social media Times report, Hillsborough channels some men either lost THE APP — SEEK deputies have arrested their jobs, were outed, were OTHER CONSENTING more than 30 men in such suicidal or were disowned by ADULTS FOR SEX.” undercover operations their families. since 2017. Some of the other men - Nadine Smith “I don’t want to stumble participated in a diversion EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR across anyone having sex program for the misdemeanor OF EQUALITY FLORIDA. in public, whether they offenses. are spring breakers on the beach or folks hooking up DOUBLE STANDARD in a park. But I also don’t take my child to a playground-less nature trail in a remote These operations beg the question for area in the middle of the night,” said Nadine many: Are deputies ever on the lookout Smith, executive director of Equality Florida. for men and women meeting in public “Shame on the Sheriff for applying a double and agreeing to have sex? Would an arrest standard and using decades old homophobic happen if straight people were having sex in rhetoric to justify his actions.” a bar bathroom or at night on the beach? Smith recently told the Tampa Bay Times IT HAPPENED IN HOLLYWOOD, TOO that the Tampa operation was a waste of taxpayer money, and a way for the sheriff’s About 250 miles from Tampa, a pair of office to criminalize gay sex. sting operations in 2018 at the adult boutique “People rendezvousing in public places is Pleasure Emporium in Hollywood followed so common a theme that everyone knows similar patterns. what Lover’s Lane is, Lookout Point and Hollywood police arrested six men in similar places,” Smith said. “If police run February of 2018 and then 13 in July of that across a couple of spring breakers having sex year after undercover detectives visited in the dunes, they’re more likely to tell them the business. Arrest reports said the men to go home and get a room, not arrest them exposed their genitals or were naked in a and humiliate them by putting their mug public place — some were charged with shots out in the public.”

Pleasure Emporium in Hollywood followed similar patterns. Hollywood police arrested six men in February of 2018 and then 13 in July of that year after undercover detectives visited the business. SFGN file photo.

Stings and raids targeting the LGBT community declined in the late 20th century. In the face of public outcry, police stopped frequently raiding gay bars and cruising stings became less common. Experts say while the police harassment is less systematic these days; it has never really gone away. ‘WHEN IT’S GAY, IT’S PERVERSE’ Sean Kosofsky has worked on police misconduct and abuse in the LGBT community for many years, including with Smith at Equality Florida, who he calls a mentor. He said that whenever a law enforcement agency decides to do a sting operation there are significant resources at play and it’s usually coming from the highest levels of the department. “If there’s a chief of police or sheriff saying ‘I didn’t know,’ it’s bullshit,” he said. He confirms that the media outreach is always a part of the equation. “Ask yourself why they are contacting the press. They want to pander to the public that they are going after perverts and deviants to make a big splash without using any bullets,” Kosofsky said. He said an easy way for depleted departments to make money is through the enforcement of nuisance abatement laws — impound fees, court costs, etc. — because “they get to look like they are law and order without having to deal with violence.” In addition, Kosofsky said many officers who are involved in the stings get promotions or cushier positions on the force. “These [men] are non-violent offenders,

there are no minors involved, no coercion, no force, no victims,” he said. “Police believe they can get away with it and that it’s popular [with the public].” Kosofsky concurs with Smith that for straight people, public sex is glamorized and public intimacy is something to be celebrated. “When it’s gay people, it’s perverse,” he said. “Those attitudes are what [police] are hoping will give them cover.” He said most of the operations have become less common as sodomy laws were struck down and the gay marriage movement exploded. So is homophobia simply an inherent part of law enforcement culture? “I don’t know that these individual cops or chiefs are homophobic, but you can’t decide to go after gay men and not be on some level [as a department],” he said. Kosofsky said the names for these operations are often described internally as “Bag-a-Fag,” and “Peter Patrol.” Trying to find solutions, Kosofsky has presented specialized trainings law enforcement, but he said the main strategy that’s worked most over the years is political pressure for the targeting to stop. Kosofsky has been a lobbyist for several gay rights groups and currently consults nonprofit organizations through his NonProfit Fixer organization. “Our movement started fighting cops at Stonewall and we’re still fighting cops,” he said. “Law enforcement is supposed to be there to protect and serve and that includes us. If they want to earn our community’s trust, stop arresting us for non-violent crimes.”

12 . 23. 20 20 •






As 2020 nears its end and the pandemic continues, SFGN is taking this quiet week to reflect on our year together during the COVID-19 crisis.

The beginning of a new world. March 18, 2020

The community begins to buckle. March 25, 2020

The painful loss of what was once normal. September 3, 2020

Everyone is responsible. July 16, 2020


• 12. 23.2020

Our community slowly adapts. September 10, 2020

The local heroes emerge. April 8, 2020


Joe Pallant (black shirt) and Athena Dion (candy cane) prepare for Christmas. Photo credit: J.R. Davis.


Wilton Manors Gazette


Video footage of the suspects. Screenshot courtesy of the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

Man Killed at Flea Market in Oakland Park Sunday

“The Shining Way to Ageless Beauty”

BSO Needs Help to Identify Assailants By Christiana Lilly

The Broward Sheriff’s Office is looking Around 12:45 p.m. multiple shots were fired to the public for the identity of three men and the three fled in a black Cadillac Escalade, involved in a shooting death in Oakland Park driving eastbound on Oakland Park Boulevard towards I-95. The video did not capture a over the weekend. The three men were at a flea market license plate number. When police arrived, an ARSunday afternoon when they got 15-style weapon was found by the into an armed altercation with victim in the parking lot. No one a fourth man in the parking lot, BSO DOES NOT else was injured, although some who was killed. BELIEVE THE THREE other cars in the parking lot were “We are releasing the video MEN KNEW THE hit by “projectiles,” Hayes said. to the media in hopes somebody BSO does not believe the three would be able to identify VICTIM, WHO IS men knew the victim, who is local these three persons of interest LOCAL AND WHOSE and whose name has not been and we can move on with the NAME HAS NOT released by request of the family. investigation,” BSO Homicide Investigators also don’t believe Det. Jim Hayes said in a press BEEN RELEASED BY the incident was gang-related. A conference in Fort Lauderdale REQUEST OF THE few witnesses on the scene spoke Thursday morning. FAMILY. with police. According to surveillance “It may be a robbery that went footage, the three men in their bad. It’s still a fluid investigation,” mid-20s arrived at the flea market (3161 W. Oakland Park Blvd.) together Hayes said. “We just need to speak to these Dec. 13. After doing some shopping, they left three individuals. So if the public can help together and got into an altercation with a us in identifying these three individuals that man in the parking lot, also in his mid-20s. would be great.” WMG

If you have any information on this case, contact Det. Mirelle Palushaj at 954-321-4226. If you would like to remain anonymous, contact Broward Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS (8477) or visit BrowardCrimeStoppers.org.

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954-319-1053 (VOICE & TEXT) 12 . 23. 20 20 •



Wilton Manors Gazette

Taming The Pain Remember, this too shall pass

By Julie A. Carson, Former Wilton Manors Commissioner


Call Johnny 518.253.0780

At the last Zoom City Commission meeting in Wilton Manors, I raised my hand to speak during public comment. Simultaneously, I received a call from a friend with whom I had not spoken in months. When the City Clerk recognized me for comment, I was nowhere to be found. Silence. There was no unmute! The call from my friend began something like “I can’t take it anymore. I am going to hurt myself today so they can just take me away. I don’t want to live.” Turns out she lost her job during the pandemic; could not pay her mortgage; and was unable to make her car payments (so she turned it back to the dealership). After consult, I called the Henderson Mobile Health Unit who dispatched a Crisis Team to her home, only to be turned away by a desperate woman who wanted to drown out her sadness in shots of tequila. COVID has been here for more than nine months, and the winter promises no letup. Mental Health issues related to the lockdown and pandemic are especially hard. The overdose rate, calls for mental health assistance, and domestic violence have increased. Unemployment is high and the daily death rate from COVID is alarming. How can we help? What can we do? In her book, “The Choice,” psychologist and survivor of Auschwitz, Dr. Edith Eger gives me insight into pain, freedom, and release. These excerpts and my comments following allowed me to guide my friend to safety: · “There is no hierarchy of suffering. There is nothing that makes my pain better or worse than yours...” · All our pains and fears are real. Accept the feelings of a friend in crisis without judgment. · “...That survival is a matter of interdependence, survival is not possible alone.” · As a community family, we are keepers of our sisters and brothers. · “We can’t choose to vanish the dark, but we can choose to kindle the light.” · Even in our darkest of times, we can purposely choose to create light, to brighten the moment.

Julie Carson. Photo via Facebook.

Eventually my friend agreed to call me before she did anything to harm herself. Later that day, when she was more clearheaded, I gave her a gentle lecture, made two appointments for her with a therapist, and told her how special she was to me and to so many others. She is now facing her challenges in more measured and healthy ways. The work of healing is difficult. We deny what hurts, what we fear. We avoid it at all costs. Then we find a way to welcome and embrace what we are most afraid. Only then can we finally release those fears. HELP IS AVAILABLE. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a 24-hour hotline at 800-9506264. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is at 800-273-8255. The SETH Line is a “warm line” designed to afford callers the opportunity to speak with sympathetic others about issues and concerns of everyday living (associated with 9Muses Art Center and Mental Health America of Southeast Florida). If you are feeling isolated, lonely or need to talk call 954-578-5640. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The prevention of suicide, by providing education hope and resources, and stopping mental health stigma are the collective responsibilites of our community and society. Please raise your hand to help. Unmute your microphone, and keep yourself, friends and family safe. WMG

• • • www.WMGAZETTE.com • • • 16

• 12. 23.2020


Wilton Manors Gazette

Deck The Drive Announces

2020 Winners By Denise Royal The holidays are here. It’s a time of giving, but it’s also a time for competing — for the best festive lights and decorations. The Deck the Drive Competition helped put residents and visitors alike in the holiday spirit. Storefronts along Wilton Drive competed for top honors by putting on their best display of lights, tinsel, and festive flair. Top honors went to The Pub. The staff transformed the front, top, and inside of the pub into a winter wonderland. Its prize for first place is $2,500. “We are all elated, we all pulled together and helped get this done,” The Pub’s Mark Rivera said. “Manager Cliff Roberts and Jim Walker did a lot of the logistics and getting most of it done together with the staff. We also pulled together to really promote it all over social media and getting our guests to be a part of the fun. This year we all really needed this sparkle of Christmas joy and to make things a little more cheerful on the drive.” Second place went to Claudia Castillo Artist Studio. “We are very grateful and excited to win this prize,” Castillo said. “My hope was to inspire and engage the businesses to participate in this exciting event.” She won $1,000 for transforming the exterior of her studio into a colorful Christmas scene. “My idea was to provide an art installation with ornaments that would be seen during the day and at night and be festive for the holidays to end this year on a happy note,” she said. “The ornaments on the concrete sidewalk express holiday wishes in different languages, conveying that we are a diverse and inclusive community that is connected regardless of where we are from.” Third place and a $1,000 prize went to Apt 9F. This location went all in with a rooftop snowman, reindeer, Christmas tree, along with snowflakes, candy canes, and red bows out front. The Wilton Manors Improvement District spearheads Deck the Dive. Matt Colunga, owner of Johnson’s, donated the prize money. “Everyone on the drive did an awesome job and really got into it,” Rivera said. “We also are grateful to have Matt Colunga put this all together. Hopefully next year we have this again and more businesses participate.” WMG

Photos via Wilton Drive, Facebook.

1st Place: The Pub

Prize: $2500

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2nd Place:

Claudia Castillo ART Studio Prize: $1000

3rd Place: Apt 9F

Prize: $1000

To learn more about Deck the Drive visit wiltondrive.org/deck-the-drive.

• • • www.WMGAZETTE.com • • • 12 . 23. 20 20 •



My Best Gay Self



Mark Turnipseed. Courtesy photo.

Mark Turnipseed


ave you ever had an important appointment that you prepared for, got up early to make, or arranged your schedule to prioritize for only to have it changed by the other party at the last minute? If you answered yes, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Life’s filled with these agonizing types of daggers to our attachments and expectations and if we don’t learn how to internalize them, they can drive our emotions and behaviors into a very bad downward spiral. Personally, these items drove me into heroin addiction and suicidal ideation, and I know I’m not the only gay person who has been there. Unfortunately, addiction and suicide ideation are all too common in the LGBT community. Therefore, I’ve made it my life’s mission to share my best gay self to help lift horrible statistics like this off our community’s back. I hope it helps break stigma associated with our lifestyle and to dissipate the fear of coming out that so many, including myself, clutched through the arduous journey of adolescence. Coming out, for instance, doesn’t need to be feared. Our expectations don’t have to be true, unless that is, we don’t know how to navigate our expectations and attachments. But we must tune up our own lives in order to show younger generations that they don’t have to fear coming out or being a part of our community. The best way to show this is modeling. There’s nothing more surefire than going into a situation, expecting disappointment or failure. The good news, however, is that the converse also true. You can seriously lift your odds at success when you enter a situation with confidence. Inner life determines the outcome in many cases, but not all the time. There’s very little that’s more painful and challenging than rejection and failure when trying to be our best self and expecting gold. Sometimes we do everything right and still experience grave



• 12. 23.2020

disappointment or rejection. Even though this may have happened in our past, as it has for many a gay folk after coming out, it doesn’t have to be in our future. Some of you may know that I just spent three years writing a memoir of addiction and coming out. Yesterday, the day before sending it to the press my ex-wives said that I couldn’t dedicate my memoir to my two sons and that I couldn’t even include my son’s names. My heart was blown to smithereens when I woke up to that message. Rejection, shame, disappointment, anger. All of it arose. The good news, however, is that I realized all of it arose because I wasn’t managing my expectations and attachments correctly.

Here’s the truth: No one can take what’s inside you baby, no one! I, like many others, get confused because I think that having affirmations from the world around me validates the pride and self-worth that’s inside me. When this happens, I’m subject to grave disappointment should the external not perform as planned (attachment to expectation). The truth is, no matter what names I use and who I dedicate my book to on the outside the ultimate truth remains and that is that my two gorgeous sons are very much so the soul-bound heirs of this title. I expected something different and got rejected. But I can be just as satisfied either way because my truth and my pride and myself worth speaks louder than the world around me sometimes reflects and if you have the guts to come out and embrace your best gay then I have confidence that you can do this too every day.

My Best Gay Self is a column by author, speaker, fitness coach and LGBTQ addiction and wellness advocate, Mark Turnipseed. He is also the Owner and CEO of Integrity Endurance, a network of personal trainers with the goal of fighting the opioid crisis through fitness. Visit www.markaturnipseed.com to learn more/contact or to find his book “My Suicide Race: Surviving the trauma of addiction, recovery and coming out.”











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f we imagine that all long-term relationships are easy, romantic pairings of soulmates who find no difficulty in forgiving daily, who live completely for the happiness of the other, and who can’t entertain the friendship ever ending, we would be wrong. Believing that both people’s hunger for intimacy, for touch, for sexual satisfaction are guaranteed to be met, would be a mistake. And, yet, many long-term relationships between two humans endure. Ray and I love each other deeply, more deeply than we thought humanly possible, certainly more profoundly than we could have imagined in the beginning of our pairing nearly 44 years ago, but we have to work hard every day, sometimes very, very hard, to keep our relationship healthy and happy. We both focus independently on letting go of annoyances, of grievances, of resentments, of feeling taken for granted. We can feel trapped, bored, stifled, held back, unappreciated, unattractive, unattracted, embarrassed, disgusted, annoyed, impatient, alienated, hateful, resentful, misunderstood, mistreated, frustrated, and lonely. But, we decide, over and over again, day after day, that it’s all worth it. The third party of our relationship — “us” — is more magnificent, more divine than either of us on our own. Married people can lust for other people, imagine themselves single, and wish for freedom from their role as a dutiful, devoted spouse. We can get tired to death of carrying the burden of our daily responsibilities of shopping, cooking, cleaning, managing the finances, maintaining the workings of the house and car, walking the dog, watering the plants, decorating for the holidays, and staying on top of the birthdays and anniversaries of family and friends. Nevertheless, we carry on, because our relationship thrives in an environment of mutual respect and sacrifice. If you choose to continue to share a bed, and a bathroom, couples in long-term relationships don’t always get the covers and pillows they want, or sufficient “alone time” in front of the sink. Tooth brushes and razors can get mixed up, things don’t get put back orderly into medicine cabinets, Kleenex boxes can be left with just one tissue, and toilet paper can run out without a back-up roll within reach. However, we find those to be a small price for the experience of ongoing, mutual love, filled with laughter, happy tears, and the feeling of belonging. Car seats and mirrors can be constantly in need of readjustment when two drivers use the same car. Coffee makers can need cleaning, and filling even when you’re not the one who drinks coffee. You can be handed the phone to talk to someone you would have avoided had you lived alone. Sometimes you can sit quietly in frustration as the other with the remote control reviews every movie and TV series



• 12.23.2020

Photo edited by Brendon Lies.

option. Or, you wait for them to return to a movie they stopped in order to go check on something, that turns into something else, and then something else. But, for us, anyway, waking up, and going to sleep with the comfort of having each other is worth the minor aggravations of living with one another. When you are in a long-term relationship with another human being, it’s possible, but not necessarily so, that you are best friends, each other’s soulmate, one another’s confidante. Ray and I are that to each other. The downside of such love is that when one of you dies first, the other can feel incomplete, totally lost, and rudderless. The anticipated extraordinary pain of such a separation makes it too difficult for some people to make the commitment. They’d rather stay single, self-sufficient, and happy in their own company. And, some of us become too set in our ways to accommodate the idiosyncrasies of another human being. Ray and I choose to stay together, even during the darkest cloud times, and we have endured our share of severe thunderstorms, because we trust, and know from experience, that sunnier days are ahead. It’s not sex, money, the dog, or shared family and friends that keep us together, although those things pop into our heads when we feel we’ve reached the end of our rope. It’s rather the awareness of the other’s goodness, fidelity, and deep, abiding love that makes us start talking again. And, talk we do, about everything we’re feeling.

Many people over the years have told us that we’re their role model for a loving gay couple in a long-term relationship, even when it had only been six months, which in 1976 felt like a long time. I have always wanted these people to know that Ray and I are far from perfect human beings, that we can be selfish, petty, angry, resentful, moody, weak, difficult, overbearing, inconsiderate, etc. But, we diligently work to be the best partner/lover/friend that we can be. We care deeply about the well-being of the other. We go out of our way each day, all day, to be thoughtful, forgiving, considerate, attentive, appreciative, accommodating, supportive, upbeat, helpful, and even-tempered. We try to apologize quickly, to say things in kind, loving ways, to listen, to grow, and to be a safe haven for the other. Why? Because we believe that we truly struck gold when we met, became friends, and committed ourselves to each other. We know that we have grown extraordinarily in the loving presence of the other. By choosing to prioritize our relationship over all other opportunities, we have created a powerful, magnetic field of energy that guides and supports us on our path. Yes, it will be agonizing to survive the other, and we will be ill suited to carry on the tasks a single person has long ago been forced to master. But, our memories of totally amazing experiences that we shared will comfort us until our own body gives out. If you had told us at age 25 and 28 the kinds of challenges we would be facing, we might not have allowed ourselves to get close. But, that’s because the love was just infatuation then, not the child of the Universe it grew to become.

Brian McNaught has been a leading educator on LGBTQ issues globally since 1974. He has made his many books and DVDs available for free at Brian-McNaught.com. The New York Times named him “The Godfather of gay diversity training.”



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For so many, 2020 has been a year you would rather forget. No, it is a year to remember. Our lives teach us all is not harmony. Life is about finding melody in the chaos. You learn that pain is something you do not get over, but you get through. In life, there is loss. In loss, there is learning. But there is no dark night not followed by a bright sun. The spirit of the holidays shines greater than any pandemic. It is a reminder of how special our friends and family are; how a season of cheer can give rise to a spring of hope. Our nation’s state of health will get better with the distribution of vaccines we should all take. No one likes a shot, but as global remedies go, this is one of the best. The worst part of the international health emergency is that the Trump Administration consciously and deliberately played down the dangers we faced. We could have risen up as a nation together. He tore us down and divided us instead. Our country has paid the price with more deaths on our own shores than anywhere else in the world. On November 3, the President paid a political price for his hostility and harm. He was not re-elected. He lost in a landslide, not only by 7 million votes, but 75 electoral ones. It’s not the subject of this editorial, but Trump’s legal challenges and personal tirades since his loss are the cries of a sore loser who was never capable of handling the tasks of the office. It’s amazing our country has survived Donald Trump’s administrative ineptitude, personal immaturity, and professional irresponsibility. But we are not there yet, are we? The reign of Captain Chaos won’t come to an end until the afternoon of January 20, 2021. Expect some congressional turbulence on January 6 and 7, but our country will weather it. You will be witnessing the constitutional process play itself out. As we celebrate a new life and political birth, remember that the virus will not magically go away because the calendar turns to a new year on January 1. You have seen too often how athletes who hold up a football before they cross the goal line find themselves tackled before they get there. Don’t make that same mistake as you celebrate

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the holidays and New Year with your loved ones. Remain responsible, be socially distant, avoid large crowds in small places, and remember, the fat lady has not sung yet. Wear your freaking mask. Be not reckless. For all our strengths, we have limitations and boundaries. Like pandemics, they can be overcome and conquered if we are cautious and conscientious. Life will become richer and our community stronger if we responsibly reckon with Reason and Science. We have built amazing skyscrapers and placed men on the moon. We have built steel machines that fly across oceans and majestic ships that can sail upon them. Still, we are learning, in this 21st century, are we not, that Nature has a few forces we must continue to respect. The pandemic that separates the world today will bring us all closer tomorrow. We will appreciate even more the universality and shared partnership of mankind. We are all immigrants in a culture of biodiversity and expansion, not constriction and exclusion. World peace may be closer than we ever thought. An intercontinental calamity can remind us of how much we all have in common. For those that have lost, and so many of us have, may yesterday’s memories illuminate your tomorrows. This year, in the face of an apocalypse of adversity, hopefully we have learned this is a time not to complain about what is not there, but rather to appreciate what we have right around us. Happy Holidays from SFGN.

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12 . 23. 20 20 •



Enter the mask design contest!



he COVID-19 pandemic may have put a damper on the usual cheer, but contrary to what gay icon Dolly Parton described as “a hard candy Christmas,” there’s a brilliant drag show streaming on demand to put the “ho” back into your 2020 holiday festivities. Here are a few holiday specials to put a little drag magic in your celebration: “A DRAG QUEEN CHRISTMAS 2020”


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Submit your portrait to Jason.Parsley@sfgn.com by January 31 22

• 12.23.2020

Ten fan favorites from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” are ready to stuff your stocking this weekend in “A Drag Queen Christmas 2020” from promoters Murray & Peter Presents. The two-hour production, filmed using five cameras, features emcees Trinity The Tuck and Nina West, along with Lady Bunny, Landon Cider, Shea Coulee, Jackie Cox, Jaida Essence Hall, Brooke Lynn Hytes, Thorgy Thor and Sasha Velour. There’s plenty of sugar and spice, including Shea Coulee’s signature Christmas nesting doll and Landon Cider’s creepy Krampus in heels. Watch “A Drag Queen Christmas 2020” on demand through Jan. 31 for $25 at DragFans.com or save $5 at Goldstar.com. “HOLIDAY SAUCE… PANDEMIC!” Christmas becomes calamity in Taylor Mac’s “Holiday Sauce…Pandemic!,” a blend of music, film, burlesque and random acts of fabulousness in the most subversive and cathartic event of the season, streaming through Jan. 2. Ibsen Award winner and MacArthur Fellow Mac (who uses “judy” as a gender pronoun) invites long-time collaborators and surprise special guests to create a virtual vaudeville to celebrate the holidays in all of their dysfunction. There is more to the holidays than rampant capitalism and gift giving as Mac reminds viewers of the collective power of our chosen families, a message that rings true in this bittersweet holiday season. Watch “Holiday Sauce…Pandemic!” on demand through Jan. 2 at TaylorMacHolidaySauce.com. Tickets are pay-what-you-can with suggested minimum of $10.

Shea Coulee is the Grinch in “A Drag Queen Christmas 2020,” one of several holiday-themed drag performances available on demand. Credit: Murray & Peter Presents.

“RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE” Beginning on Christmas Day at 9 a.m., Logo will offer a marathon of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” seasons 1 — 12. That’s right, every episode, every “Lip Sync for your Life” and every steamy pit crew appearance! Then, on New Year’s Day at 1 p.m. before the premiere of Season 13, last season’s winner Jaida Essence Hall and Miss Congeniality Heidi N Closet will host VH1’s “Very Ru Year” movie marathon with screenings of “Clueless,” “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” and “Mamma Mia.” If you haven’t already gotten your fill of drag by then, at 8 p.m., “Drag Race” Season 13 will be simulcast on the CW network along with MTV, MTV2, PopTV and Logo. Thirteen competitors include Denali (Chicago, IL), Elliott with 2 Ts (Las Vegas, NV), Gottmik (Los Angeles, CA), Joey Jay (Phoenix, AZ), Kahmora Hall (Chicago, IL), Kandy Muse (New York, NY), LaLa Ri (Atlanta, GA), Olivia Lux (New York, NY), Rosé (New York, NY), Symone (Los Angeles, CA), Tamisha Iman (Atlanta, GA), Tina Burner (New York, NY) and Utica Queen (Minneapolis, MN). Setting the tone for new year to come, the queens will enter the Werk Room to discover an explosive surprise: they must immediately go head-to-head on the mainstage to defend their place in the competition with six lip syncs for their lives. 2021 is already starting to look better than 2020. Check local listings for channels and show times.

Life can get complicated. Make it easier on yourself. This is what is required of you: Act justly Love mercy And walk humbly before your Creator


(Micah 6:8)

Shabbat service Friday at 8pm on our Facebook Page

Congregation Etz Chaim

2038 N. Dixie Hwy, Wilton Manors, FL 33305, on the Pride Center campus www.EtzChaimFlorida.org / RSVP HERE: info@etzchaimflorida.org

Church of Our Savior, MCC 2011 s. Federal Hwy., Boynton Beach, FL 561-733-4000 www,churchofoursaviormcc.org


Until further notice: Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, our worship services are streamed on Facebook Live every Sunday at 10 AM, rather than held at our church property. https://www.facebook.com/ ChurchofOurSaviorMCC. Visit our web site for more details & updates.


Join us for masked, socially distanced in person worship. 11 AM Sundays. Services also LIVE-streamed on Facebook and posted on website for safe at home viewing.

“Love without judgement” Holy Angels National Catholic Church 1436 NE 26th Street Wilton Manors. 33305 Facebook.com/HolyAngelsFL www.HolyAngelsFL.org

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SAME DAY PrEP CONGREGATION ETZ CHAIM 2038 N. Dixie Hwy (Pride Center Building B), Wilton Manors 954-564-9232 - etzchaimflorida.org RabbiNoahKitty@etzchaimflorida.org Friday Night Shabbat Service 8p.m. HOLY ANGELS CATHOLIC COMMUNITY 2917 NE 6th Avenue Wilton Manors 954-633-2987 - HolyAngelsFL.net Sunday Mass at 11AM


CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOR, MCC Church of Our Savior, MCC 2011 S. Federal Hwy. Boynton Beach. churchofoursaviormcc.org | 561-733-4000 Sunday Service 10AM TEMPLE BAT YAM 5151 NE 14th Ter Fort Lauderdale, FL 33334 954-928-0410 Friday Night & Saturday Morning Streaming Online at templebatyam.org

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Appointments will now be required to visit the adoption areas at the Humane Society of Broward County on weekends and select days. Visit www.humanebroward.com to learn more or call 954-989-3977 ext. 6. Appointments are not necessary for the vaccine clinic which is open Monday — Friday 9 AM — 4:30 PM credit cards only. The banners rotate so click on the one that says COVID-19 update adoptions and essential services update and scroll down a little bit. There you will find an application for adoption and other pertinent information. Complete the application (even if you have adopted before) and submit it. Adoptions are being done by appointment only now. For more information call 954-989-3977 ext. 6 FACE MASKS ARE REQUIRED WHEN COMING TO THE SHELTER.

community Keep your eyes on

PEN PAL WANTED - Young gay male looking for a penpal. Life is not always perfect and I am searching for friends as we move into the new year. Email Ryan: thabirdman1@aol.com for mailing address and information.

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• 12.23.2020


OFFER EXPIRES 05.31.2020

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Are you ready to have fun? If so, adopt me, Kay (ID 636226)! I’m a sweet, 3-year-old social butterfly who enjoys meeting new people. I love to play ball, I know a few commands like sit, paw and lay down — especially if a yummy treat is involved. I also listen well and am sure to be first in my class if we go to doggie school here. I came from another shelter, so my past is a bit of mystery, but I would love to make wonderful memories with you. Thanks to Dolly’s Dream, my adoption fee is sponsored and I get to go home with all the goodies I need to settle into my new home. Can we be forever friends?

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