The Greater Fort
Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau's tourism
board is setting its sights on Jim Naugle, the conservative
Fort Lauderdale, Fla., mayor who in recent weeks
has launched a bizarre, seemingly antigay crusade.
bureau is demanding the mayor stop his "hurtful,
mean-spirited rhetoric" regarding the gay community and that
"damage has been done" by his comments. Travel leaders have
been inundated with e-mails saying that potential
visitors are considering pulling their business from
Fort Lauderdale. According to the travel board, one
specific 200-member group has put their South Florida travel
plans on hold in addition to $250,000 in payment. Supportive
straight travelers have also threatened to boycott
Fort Lauderdale, but the mayor's response has been
that he will not "back down."
Naugle caused a
firestorm when he gave an interview to the
Sun-Sentinel newspaper on July 4 where he called
for pay toilets to be installed at Sebastian Beach, a
popular gay spot.
"Homosexuals...they're engaging in sex,
anonymous sex, illegal sex," Naugle said in the
Sun-Sentinel article. He then added, "I
didn't use the word 'gay.' I used the
word 'homosexual.' Most of them
aren't gay; they are unhappy."
infuriated locals who began a "Flush Naugle" campaign.
The mayor called a press conference where it was assumed he
would apologize to LGBTs. Instead, he apologized for not
taking more seriously the so-called issue of gays and
Naugle held another press conference, this time with
right-wing religious leaders. The conservatives, Naugle
included, urged the public to report public sex to the
police and for the tourism board to stop promoting gay
bathhouses. (The Advocate)