Still Where the Boys Are

The Fort Lauderdale tourism board, looking to soften the city’s image after a tough year, invites Advocate associate editor Neal Broverman to experience its sun-drenched virtues.



This whole
brouhaha was going down at the Greater Fort Lauderdale
Convention and Visitors Bureau was prepping for
November’s queer tourism conference -- which,
wouldn’t you know, had long ago picked FoLa as its
2007 host city. Oy.

Luckily for the
visitors bureau, Naugle has zipped his lip since the
summer. But was the press trip, which had been set up for
the three days preceding the conference, just damage
control? “Not particularly,” says Robert
Einhorn, a publicist hired by the Fort Lauderdale visitors
bureau. "We’re just trying to show the gay
journalists that Fort Lauderdale is still a great
place to visit and an accepting vacation spot.” And
after landing in Miami, I was immediately whisked to the
Fort Lauderdale fabulousness Robert was talking about.
But had gays turned their backs on FoLa to burn their
disposable income in friendlier climes?

Traffic from the
airport derailed my participation in a water taxi ride
and a tour of the new W Hotel, but I was heartened by my
enormous suite at the Elysium, a lovely -- and quiet
-- gay guesthouse. In hushed tones I was alerted to
the clothing-optional policy.

Robert picked me
up and brought me to Sidelines, a gay sports bar in the
town of Wilton Manors, Fort Lauderdale’s adopted
gayborhood. Even between happy hour and Friday night
prime time, the place was packed. I was too busy with
meet and greets to ask barflies if they were tourists or
locals, but most patrons seemed extremely comfortable, so
I'd guess the latter.

After a stiff
scotch, my fellow queer journos and I walked over to
Galanga Thai Kitchen and Sushi Bar -- which was as
packed as Sidelines. We were sequestered in a private
room, so I couldn't quiz any patrons where they were
from. The sushi was good, though.

Following dinner,
we all grabbed a drink at Georgie’s Alibi, a bar down
the street. It was unsophisticated gay fun -- Beyoncé
videos and tight T-shirts. One of the journalists
starting talking up a local fella who announced,
“I just moved to Fort Lauderdale, but I
haven’t met anyone, which is surprising, since
I’m so good-looking.” I alerted the tourism
board -- that guy could do more damage than Naugle.

Tags: Travel