Fort Lauderdale is much more than just a beach destination, even in the steamy days of summer. New museums, nightlife, and events give locals and tourists alike plenty to do in addition to sunbathing on the sand or by the pool. There are new events being added every day to the GayCities calendar, so we’ve assembled more than a few suggestions for places to go, people to meet.
Stonewall Pride Wilton Manors
There are two Pride festivals each year in Fort Lauderdale, two months apart. The first festival, Pride South Florida, happend in March and it was lots of fun. Sheena Easton, Judy Tenuta, and Tiffany performed. Missed it?
Fret not, because coming up is the second pride festival, Stonewall Pride Wilton Manors, Saturday, June 21. An outdoor stage and a street festival run along the main strip, Wilton Drive, all day. Come to the main stage and see the Mr. and Miss Stonewall Pageant.
It isn’t a beach city pride if there isn’t a guy–or a thousand–in a Speedo.
To help beat the heat, the parade kicks off at 7:00 p.m., where people will be dressed — or undressed — in many imaginative ways.
Thousands of people show up each year to partake in the outdoor revelry as well as at the bars for the various themed parties, from twinks to bears and everything in between, so wear comfortable shoes. Walk, bike or cab it to the festival if you can. Parking will be diabolical.
Stonewall Museum — Wilton Manors Gallery
Exhibit Opening Party June 21
The Stonewall Museum presents exhibitions and events that chronicle LGBT history in South Florida and across the U.S. The main facility is located within a branch of Broward County Library, but the Stonewall bigwigs wanted to bring the museum to the masses, so they have launched a satellite gallery along Wilton Drive amongst the bars and underwear shops.
The official opening party is the same day as Stonewall Pride, June 21, with the exhibit “Days Without Sunshine: Anita Bryant’s Anti-Gay Crusade.” Take a break from the Pride revelry and sip wine while learning–or being reminded–of the actual roots of what the word “pride” meant to the community that fought to make it possible for us to march on the streets, not in protest but in celebration of hard-fought freedom & equality.
GayProv by Pride Pup
South Florida improv company Sick Puppies has gathered a special group of performers for a Pride-themed show, Pride Pups, on June 29 at Empire Stage. It shall presumably be somewhat outrageous, which is always fun. The event is also a fundraiser for SunServe, a social service and mental health agency for the LGBT community in South Florida. Tickets for sale here. It’s a cute little theater and the show should be fun.
Pride Center at Equality Park/Poverello Thrift Store
Pride Center Flea Market, July 5
The Pride Center at Equality Park hosts meetings for approximately 60 groups each month, ranging from support groups to social events and even exercise classes. But if you don’t partake in any of those, you can also stop by their monthly flea market on July 5, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Then run next door to the Poverello, one of the most magnificent thrift stores on Earth, where if you have time and patience to dig you might find designer-label clothes and vintage Fiestaware–all for under $10. The thrift store is a fundraiser for Poverello’s food bank, made available for people who have low financial incomes and are HIV+, so shop with a clear conscience.
Mack Power Lunch
Let’s get down to business. Fort Lauderdale is a great place to mix business with pleasure, and even “corporate” events can be relaxed and fun. Try the Mack Power Lunch on Tuesday, August 5, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at The Grateful Palate, where executives and business owners take time from their busy schedules to sit with each other and break bread (if they eat carbs).
Mack Planet organizes these networking luncheons as well as cocktail parties, which are advertised as “gay and straight friendly professional networker” events, which means gay guys flirt and giggle with the occasional straight guy who owns a business and shows up looking for contacts. These events are quite popular and are a great place to mix and mingle, and perhaps meet a special someone with a good job.
World AIDS Museum
The Fort Lauderdale area is also home to the new World AIDS Museum, which has opened in Wilton Manors to help put the HIV/AIDS epidemic in historical perspective. The museum will host traveling exhibits as well as collections from artists and historians about the disease in South Florida and around the world. The museum is still a work in progress, so stop by to see the vision they have in store for the community.
There’s fun to be had by all this summer in the Fort Lauderdale area. After a long day of excitement, you’ll be glad to take a moment and give yourself a bath. Do it like this delicate gentleman did last year: on a Pride parade float, for everyone to enjoy.