After Pulse, Is Wilton Manors Asleep At the Wheel for Halloween?
For those of you not familiar with Fort Lauderdale, Wilton Manors is our gay ghetto and its bar district and guesthouses and all that comes with them a magnet for tourists across the country and around the world. Each year, at least since l’ve lived here, the town, or l should say sponsoring organizations like our Gay Pride Center this year, organize what they call Wicked Manors, a Halloween celebration and block party rolled into one with Wilton Drive closed to traffic. Seniors with their lawn chairs, couples with their baby carriages. along with us come out to gawk at some of the craziest costumed revelers this side of Pluto as if it were New Year’s in Times Square.
But everything changed after Pulse, or at least l thought it would. Yet in reading promos about the event and checking its website, not one mention was made about increased security in light of what happened in Orlando. If there will be increased police presence or even undercover cops dressed as leather boys or drags, don’t you think they should have said it to give would-be attendees some sense of security and that maybe, just maybe, would serve as a deterrent to some nut job out there contemplating mayhem?
No, nothing, zilch. Call me a party pooper (actually l like that), but if l were running the event this year, l’d see entrances were limited (with barricades and police everywhere else), backpacks and other excess baggage were prohibited (think the Boston Marathon/Massacre), and that people entering were inspected in some way.
“Sorry buddy, l gotta grab that bulge between your legs. All in the name of a safer Wilton Manors.”
After all, it’s Halloween and people can come in looking like an alien with plenty of places on their body to hide a bomb or gun. About the only guys you wouldn’t need to feel up are the ones wearing only a jockstrap. Then again, they could be “in transition” and since they haven’t got any male equipment between their legs while they save their bottle tops to finance the operation, that bulge could indeed be a gun in their pocket, I mean jock.
For those of you too young to get the joke, there was a saucy, buxom comedienne and film star named Mae West, popular in the thirties, who said to a would-be paramour (l think he was a very young Cary Grant) in one of her films before the censorship code was enforced in Hollywood, “ls that a gun in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”
Now the Big Apple’s Halloween Parade has become something of an international attention getter, but l noticed in their online promos, there is only one entrance for participants and l’m sure police coverage will be the size of a small army, which probably dwarfs Wilton Manors’ or even Fort Lauderdale’s police force. There was a dispute between the Pride Center, sponsor for this year’s Wicked Manors, that couldn’t afford increased security in light of Pulse, and the city of Wilton Manors that claimed they didn’t have the bucks either. But are we smarter or safer than NYC with bars like the iconic Alibi and on-its-way-to-becoming iconic Hunters ripe for a boom boom finale? Or even my favorite watering hole, the Ramrod ( it’s my favorite because a significant number of the guys are old – like me) that is so small and confined, a Pulse copycat could wipe out most of South Florida’s leather community in three minutes on a packed Saturday night.
There was a time when l thought we here in South Florida, unlike big city targets like NYC, Chicago and LA, were safe. After all, what were they gonna do? Blow up the beach?
I know better now.