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.

BY Neal Broverman

December 21 2007 1:00 AM ET

The next day we
were brought to Butterfly World. The butterflies come
right up and rest on your shoulder -- you feel like Snow
White! While I highly doubt many gay tourists are
going to drive to Butterfly World (about 10 miles
outside of Fort Lauderdale), I found it a nice
distraction from the beach and biceps.

We had lunch at
the Grand Luxe Cafe, a chain restaurant that serves
portions so massive the CEO should be given the
“hungry kids in Africa” speech. Of
course, this was near a mall, so no sign of tourists.

Next up were
tours of Fort Lauderdale beach on a Segway, and even though
I crashed mine and got a hideous bruise on my inner thigh, I
had a great time. The weather was simply perfect --
about 80 and mildly humid -- and the canals of Fort
Lauderdale were really lovely. The beach wasn't dead,
but hardly hopping.

We retired to our
respective guesthouses to freshen up. Like moths to a
flame, the foreign tourists emerged from their rooms for the
Elysium’s cocktail hour. For the first time
since my arrival, the hotel felt occupied. The
visitors were oblivious to Fort Lauderdale’s recent
image problem, but during dinner at the Hard Rock
Hotel and Casino (where Anna Nicole Smith scored her
last methadone hit) I discovered that many of the gay
American journalists weren’t aware of the scandal
either. Maybe FoLa had nothing to worry about.

After dinner we
were delivered to more bars/nightclubs. The visitors
bureau knew what it was doing -- press people love to get
pickled, but gay journalists, well, they’ll
drink witch hazel if it was served in a martini glass.
At a swinging hot spot I spoke to two gents from New York,
and a homophobic mayor and a hateful hick were the furthest
thing from their minds; Fort Lauderdale’s
beaches and boys held way too much sway. Even through
my boozy haze, it was clear that Fort Lauderdale’s $1
billion in gay tourism dollars were not in jeopardy.
Ignorance is bliss, especially when you’re on
vacation.

Tags: Travel

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