ZAN(Z)BAR: Out and Proud!
I was angered by the article published in your July 30 issue ("Removing the Unity From the Gay Community," Michael Freedman). While it is clear that Mr. Freedman conducted extensive research in a sincere attempt to write a fair and balanced story, he omitted pertinent facts, and as a result, failed to accurately represent the truth.
Contrary to Bill Salicco's (president of the Dolphin Democratic Club) blatant lies, here, for the record, are some of the facts concerning this year's Pride Parade. These can be corroborated by the Pride South Florida board, the Las Olas Association, and the Las Olas Rainbow Alliance, not to mention the permitting, police, and public-safety departments of the City of Fort Lauderdale.
According to Vicky Keller, cochair of Pride South Florida and the Pride Parade, the parade planners encountered numerous obstacles in securing permits for the parade. Apparently the City of Fort Lauderdale sat on the permit application for months, not realizing that the time and day on which the parade would be held had changed from the traditional Sunday afternoon slot to prime time (7:30-9 p.m.) on a Saturday.
The slot on Saturday night was unacceptable to the Las Olas Association because it would have severely disrupted or eliminated business at the 11 lounges and restaurants along the stretch of Las Olas that would have been affected by the parade. In addition it would have eliminated a large number of parking spots and tied up traffic in this already-congested area. At this time of year, most businesses cannot afford the economic strain that would have been imposed by a disruption of business on the busiest night of the week.
Contrary to Salicco's assertions, prior to this board meeting, neither James Sands, co-owner of ZAN(Z)BAR, nor I had the slightest inkling that the parade was to be moved to a different day and time. Ever since we opened ZAN(Z)BAR, we have provided tables and refreshments for the judges at the Sunday-afternoon parades, at no charge and without hesitation. After the Las Olas Association board meeting, James had a conversation regarding the Pride Parade with a fellow member of the Las Olas Rainbow Alliance (LORA) -- an entirely separate entity from the Las Olas Association. (James, incidentally, founded LORA with the goal of harnessing the combined power of gay-friendly Las Olas businesses to create a strong gay presence on this world-renowned boulevard whilst simultaneously amplifying our support for worthy initiatives within the gay community.) As a direct result of this conversation, an invitation was extended to the Pride committee to send a delegation to the following LORA meeting, with a view to exploring possible solutions to their problem. They did not approach us, as was reported in your story. Nor would we have been successful, contrary to Mr. Salicco's assertions, in any attempt at pressuring the Las Olas Association to reverse its perfectly sensible, reasonable, and unanimous decision, one which, no doubt, would be appropriately replicated in the future, given the same set of circumstances.
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I attempted to explain to Mr. Freedman that the parade, as proposed, would cause a hardship to ourselves and to our employees -- some of whom are gay, and some of whom are not, but most depend on a Saturday night's revenues to pay their bills. I also explained that this time of year is a struggle for most restaurants and that more than 20 people depend on ZAN(Z)BAR for their livelihoods.
Unconvinced and unconcerned, Bill Salicco et al. were adamant that we, as well as our gay and nongay staff, should be happy to endure whatever loss might result in order to accommodate the parade, which he mistakenly equates with gay rights.
Fortunately neither Salicco nor any of his disciples, to our knowledge, has contributed in any way to ZAN(Z)BAR's success, so any response to his call for a boycott is of little or no consequence. As for ZAN(Z)BAR, we will continue to be out and proud every single day for as long as we remain in business. We don't need a Pride Parade to show our true colors, though we will continue to support any parade (as we have done in the past) that attempts to accommodate the concerns of all affected parties. James and I will strive to elevate the community by working to distinguish ourselves in the eyes of those who patronize us and those who work with us as honest and successful, openly gay entrepreneurs. We will vigorously defend the reputations we have worked so hard to forge from similar underhanded attacks. Unlike the Dolphin Democrats under Salicco's iron fist, we will continue to welcome all, regardless of their genders or other factors.