I have for the last few weeks read letters from uninformed individuals who wish to speak in a less-than-positive manner about one of this community's leaders ("Removing the Unity From the Gay Community," Michael Freedman, July 30). Please let me set the record straight. Bill Salicco, president of the Dolphin Democratic Club, has never asked the Dolphins to support a boycott of any kind. The attack and accusations from Doug Heusdens and others are hollow. I can tell you to the best of my knowledge that Doug has never attended a Dolphin Democratic Club meeting. Therefore I would diagnose Doug as suffering from "Dolphinaphobia." What we are not educated about, we fear or hate -- much like homophobia. I would like to publicly invite Doug to our next meeting so he can see for himself that our club is unified, progressive, active, respected, and Democratic.
Dolphin members sit on or chair national, state, county, and city boards. We speak at different conventions around the state and nation. We have over the years gained the respect and confidence of our elected state and national politicians. Before anyone attacks the Dolphin Democratic Club's leadership, they should at least attend a meeting. Do not rely on rumors to substantiate your opinion. Rely on your own personal knowledge.
Our club is nearly 600 strong, and everyone has an opinion. However, "divided" is not one of them. If it were not for Bill Salicco making several generous contributions, the Dolphins would not have been able to afford representation in several women's publications. In fact, the club's board of directors includes three dynamic women who were all elected unanimously. Mr. Heusdens' remark about the exclusion of women is not based on facts but rather a complete fabrication conjured up by someone basing an opinion on rumors and lies and not on fact.
The Dolphins, under Bill Salicco's proven leadership, have accomplished more during his six months as president than under any past president's entire term. The Dolphins' list of accomplishments just since February include electing State Sen. Steve Geller, Mayor Jack Seiler, and council members Gary Resnick and Joanne Fanizza. It was Bill Salicco who met with Sheriff Ken Jenne to educate him on our issues; we gained the sheriff's understanding and trust. Sheriff Jenne implemented Bill's suggestion to have several diversity liaisons to the community in all BSO districts. We now have a positive, nurturing relationship with the most powerful man in this county.
It is not fair to compare the Dolphins to any other political club or PAC. The Dolphins are a partisan club and have been around longer than the other organizations. We need to have GUARD, we need to have SAGE, we need Pride South Florida and other organizations because they fill a very important need in this community. We are better because of them. What we do not need is people perpetuating gossip and pitting one club against the other. We are all working toward acceptance and equality.
We are now in the middle of an election year. Bill and the Dolphins are actively working on electing Democrats Buddy MacKay and Tracy Stafford, state representatives, county commissioners, judges, and school board members to office. Orchestrating a boycott against any gay business is not on our agenda.
A Parade of Platitudes
The purpose of this letter is to address the Gay Pride Parade debacle ("Removing the Unity From the Gay Community") and offer some unsolicited advice that, perhaps, will put an end to this unfortunate saga. It is disheartening to many of us in the gay community to read and hear rumors about who is to blame for the poorly planned and executed parade. It is equally deplorable to observe members within our own community calling for the boycott of a gay-owned and gay-operated business. Such a call reduces all of us to the level of the naive minority who boycott Disney and ABC. It is the success of these businesses that transcends gay pride each and every day that they operate.
This ceaseless controversy and exchange of blame tears at the very fabric of our community and fuels the myopic view of those who would rather see us not exist. Rather than attacking one of our own and acting in such a callow manner, let's focus our energy and resources on more imperative issues.
I call upon the Dolphin Club to lift its imposed boycott of ZAN(Z)BAR and offer a truce. Additionally, I call upon the Pride Committee and Las Olas Rainbow Association to begin immediately discussions on the arduous task of planning and presenting the most organized and pride-filled parade we have ever witnessed. It is through compromise and unity that we all benefit. Let us show all the naysayers that, despite our differences, we can rise above and become stronger and more united.
John S. Paulus III