As Gays Leave South Beach – Gay Fort Lauderdale Continues to Grow

Gianni Versace was murdered  in 1997. 

I really view that as a turning point for South Beach.  Within a couple years that followed, South Beach was changing. And not in a good way.

I was last there in 2004 for the famous Winter Party, which attracts  several thousand gay people. Even with that many gays in town, my partner and I DID NOT feel safe walking  the streets at night.  Straight kids in cars drove past and yelled  “faggots”  at  us   and one car even hurled a bottle at us. We walked in somewhere for a slice of pizza late night and straight teenagers  mumbled “gay this” and “fag that”  under their breath, but loud enough to hear.

We were told by locals at that time, that many gays are starting to relocate to Fort Lauderdale. 

I have not been back to South Beach since.

It has just gotten worse in the last 5 years as the area has become a late night drinking straight town. This month in the news, gay bashings are on the rise there. State of Florida records stated that 75% of the anti-homosexual hate crimes in Miami-Dade County in 2009 occurred in South Beach/Miami Beach. It’s still chic and expensive there. Major developers have invested billions there. But the gays are getting out.

“South Beach isn’t the free-spirited haven of gayness it once was.” says writer Natalie  O’Neill from  Miami New Times.

Fort Lauderdale continues to reign supreme as one of the most popular gay destinations in North America.  Lauderdale has been a haven for gay and lesbian travelers for decades. But in the last 5 years, it has seen tremendous growth as South Beach shifted.  In addition to being a  very gay friendly city ,  Fort Lauderdale has more than 100 gay-owned establishments including hotels/guesthouses, bars, clubs and restaurants, plus the second largest Metropolitan Community Church congregation in the United States and three gay and lesbian publications. Gay Ft. Lauderdale has three popular gay beach areas on Fort Lauderdale’s 23 miles of wide, sandy beach.

Read more on SoBe  from Natalie O’Neill.

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