The APTs, Naugle says, would "cut down on sexual activity that so many people complain about and that we've made arrests for. We made arrests Monday night." It's an issue he wanted to bring into the open, he says, in part to encourage people to make complaints against activity that "in past years, because of political correctness, people were not willing to report." It's that sort of thing that "resulted in, I'm assuming, [Monday's] arrest."
"During this controversy is when I found these websites that advertise places for activity. Where I first heard about it was the arrest of that state legislator." Naugle is referring to Bob Allen, who was arrested after allegedly offering to give an undercover officer a blowjob in a park bathroom. "I went to this site — Gay Guide to Florida Activities — and there: Holiday Park is listed. I said 'Aw, man! Again!' "
The sites Naugle mentions also list various private businesses as "cruisy places" or having "cruisy toilets." He says he's planning to write the managers of each of those companies, like the Home Depot on Andrews Avenue and the Barnes & Noble on U.S. 1. "But there are two locations that I'm responsible for as mayor — Holiday Park and Mills Pond Park. Out of political correctness, we're not going to look the other way. No. This is a criminal act, and it doesn't belong in a park. I'm being attacked because of my honesty."
But what about his "apology"? Was that a childish stunt? Naugle explains that he held a news conference because he was going to the Keys for minilobster season — an event he hasn't missed in 25 years, even though he'll work on Christmas if need be. He had to leave before the rally so as not to hit traffic, he says. As though it's some sort of proof, Naugle whips his diver's certification card out of his wallet.
Asked if he would agree that most gays are productive members of society, not sexual deviants, Naugle says, "Of course." So why not make a statement saying that?
"Why don't they join me and try to be responsible members of the community and support people who have families and stop being selfish?" he cries, his voice rising uncharacteristically. "A lot of people are just being selfish! They're thinking about themselves and being self-centered! They're not understanding the impact that some people in the homosexual community are putting on families in the community!"
To be clear, the mayor said, "We want to welcome gay people to visit our city — but I think we want to make sure we crack down on criminal activity."
Although many gay people in town were furious about Naugle's remarks, others, it must be said, were only vaguely aware of them. Multiple 20-somethings who were asked about the comments were more concerned with clubbing than politics. At least one gay couple missed the entire firestorm because they were off getting married. And another gay man might have behaved differently if he'd been more aware of Mayor Naugle's wish to "crack down."
That man, who was arrested in Fort Lauderdale on Monday, August 6, and charged with lewd and lascivious behavior, spoke with New Times only on the condition of anonymity. The 56-year-old said he was in Holiday Park that afternoon with sex on the brain. He had read about the spot on cruisingforsex.com.
It was about 4 p.m., he said, following a thunderstorm. He doesn't know what possessed him to go to the park — he's had a supportive partner for 12 years, he said. Perhaps he was thinking of the way it used to be for guys of his generation, growing up in the Carolinas without gay role models or information. "You figured things out for yourself," he said.
The venture to Holiday Park "was just a curiosity," he tried to explain, his voice nervous even a week after the incident. "I don't even need to get into the psychological aspect of it." He says he had no intention of having sex in a bathroom. "It was more of a visual erotic thing. Like, a mental thing — of possibilities."
This is his version of events: A white man in a pickup truck pulled up along his driver's side and motioned for him to roll down his window. The man asked to see his dick. So he undid his zipper.
The guy in the truck suggested they leave the park and go to his place. They drove a few blocks and parked. Then two other cars pulled up, and three men jumped out and started yelling. He knew then that they were cops, he says — and he was scared. He begged them not to arrest him.