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March 2010 Cover
March 2010 Cover

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March 2010 Email this to a friend
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Is violence driving gays from Miami?

By Joseph Erbentraut

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Have gay bashings, high real estate prices and a changing community meant that "gays are leaving South Beach for Fort Lauderdale," as the headline of a Miami New Times article proclaimed?
While the truth of the matter is far from that story's sensational headline, many are acknowledging that South Beach does have its challenges.
The Miami New Times article by Natalie O'Neill gave many reasons for the supposed exodus, including the fact that there are more anti-gay crimes in Miami than before. Except that there aren"t. In the Miami Herald, gay journalist Steve Rothaus pointed out that in 2008, Broward County (which includes Fort Lauderdale) had twice as many anti-gay attacks as Miami-Dade County. Broward's total was the highest in the state.
Herb Sosa, president of Unity Coalition/Coalicion Unida, denies that Miami"s gay community has waned, even if the scene looks a bit different than it used to. He points to last summer's Pride celebration -- the community's first in more than 10 years -- as a sign of vivacity.
"Does Miami have its challenges? Of course it does," Sosa told Guide magazine. "The gay community has changed as a whole, with lounges becoming more popular than big clubs. But just walk down the street and it will be very clear the gay community is alive and well in South Beach."
But challenges remain for Miami's gay community. The Miami Beach Police Department has come under fire after a lawsuit claiming the wrongful arrest of a resident who reported two police officers for beating another gay man. Activists met with the police in February to discuss the incident.
Scott Hall, a gay activist living in Fort Lauderdale, said Miami's problems were far from unique to that city and encouraged continued vigilance.
"We are facing more violence each year, and I'm not just limiting that to Miami," Hall said. "We need to come together as a community and make sure this violence doesn't continue."

Author Profile:  Joseph Erbentraut

Joseph Erbentraut is a Wisconsin-born freelance writer and editor currently living in Chicago. His articles on politics, music and culture have been featured in the Village Voice and other publications. He also blogs at Chicagoist.


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