“Let me start by saying that I’m truly a happy homosexual, And not only that, I’m a happy homosexual who is HIV-positive. So he really slaps me upside the head.” – Larry Gierer, mayor of Oakland Park, Florida, speaking about Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle. Oakland Park is just north of Fort Lauderdale, also in Broward County. Gierer adds, “It’s a flashback to Anita Bryant. His logic, his views…it just sounds antiquated and foolish. He needs to dust the cobwebs off, because so many people have happy homosexuals in their life. I just think he’s grasping at straws. It’s a way for him to get the spotlight.”
And Naugle is getting the spotlight, having been interviewed last week by CNN and the NY Times. The new darling of the Christianist right, Naugle is being groomed for bigger things. But on the upside, Waymon Hudson of Fight OUT Loud reports today that the Broward County Commission will be voting tomorrow to remove Naugle from its tourism board. Fort Lauderdale is already feeling fallout from Naugle’s hate speech, with the tourism board reporting hundreds of emails from people vowing not to vacation there. Only one tour group is known to have cancelled so far, but with those events planned so far in advance, the full effect remains to be seen.
While some (San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter, for example) are calling for a boycott of Fort Lauderdale, local gay activists are urging queers to continue to patronize the city. I agree. Enjoy beautiful Fort Lauderdale and take an hour out of your vacation to drop by City Hall to register your displeasure with the major. Bring toilet paper.