Is FL’s Wilton Manors, America’s Newest Gay Ghetto, Going Mainstream Already?
Squirt.org, a popular gay hook-up site, was forced to remove its ads on advertising boxes in Fort Lauderdale’s Wilton Manors after one city commissioner, a gay man to boot, protested that the ads were inappropriate (“after all, there are schools …”) and the city should have higher standards. Squirt responded that their ads are all over other cities without an issues but agreed to take them down.
Okay, dare I remind all you holier-than-thou jerk-off that without the gay boys Wilton Manors would have remained a low rent, in-the-sewer ghetto and probably would not have morphed into a high priced (some say over-priced) real estate goldmine fed by gay men from across the country and around the world wanting a slice of this sub-tropical paradise, plus the millions who each year visit WM’s watering holes and restaurants and shops and guesthouses and neighboring motels and guesthouses and male whorehouses and gyms – should I go on? Without Wilton Manors, Sebastian Beach and Club bath house and the Gay Guesthouse Strip off Birch Street a few blocks from the ocean would be a shadow of what they are today. And if your kids have two daddies and living in a gay friendly neighborhood bugs you because of a few “ads,” it’s time to move.
Before there was an Alibi, Wilton Manors’ signature gay bar that started it all, there was an abandoned supermarket named Piggly Wiggly where a now deceased buddy of mine met his wife as they were shooting up smack. A few years later I bought a one bedroom condo a few blocks from the then new Alibi as a snowbird getaway from New York for twenty five thousand dollars. A decade later, at the height of Fort Lauderdale’s real estate boom, as more and more gay men discovered this oasis kissed by the sun where all ages were welcomed, (unlike kewpie doll Miami), that same condo sold for one hundred and seventy five thousand dollars. Today, even after the bust, real estate prices have rebounded close to their pre-bust levels.
So who do you think fueled this transformation? But as with Miami’s South Beach, where it was the gays who saved the art deco hotels from the wrecking ball, but who were eventually driven out in significant numbers by higher rents and, some say, gay bashing, Wilton Manors is quickly forgetting its roots.
Okay, so maybe don’t have a Squirt ad by a school bus stop. But in the heart of bar row, what’s the problem? I mean the model in the ad was wearing a tank top and looking quite ordinary. It’s not like he was flashing a crotch shot or padding some paramour on the rear.
When shit like this happens, as frivolous as it may first sound, it’s only a matter of time when the local PTA starts complaining about leather boys parading on the drive.
Look at NYC’s once seedy West Village, now High Rise Yuppie/Guppie Condo City, or San Francisco’s once iconic Castro, where gay shops are now told to make their window displays tasteful. Gay ghettos as we knew them are disappearing – is that what we want? Can’t we hold on to what we created?
And it all starts with someone complaining about an ad.