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Sometimes a picture says it all. A black-and-white photograph of a young man, sinewy and lean-muscled. The look on his face, detached; the look of the rest of him — all of the rest of him — decidedly attached. A large, semihard member is slapped on his right leg, hanging out for all the world to see.
Amid the text littering his strong thighs, there are hints of just how it used to be for the gay man in Orlando circa But the whole effect, from the boldness of the nudity to the suggestive sparseness of the shot itself, illustrates the beguiling terms of homosexuality in a semifictitious region thrown onto the map by the coming of Walt Disney World.
If you could handle the bluntness, then you were welcome. That picture, among many others, is part of Central Florida's Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgendered History Exhibit, an ambitious attempt to archive the largely hearsay-based cultural history of local homosexuality, which the Metropolitan Business Association — the gay chamber of commerce — will present with the Come Out With Pride parade Sunday, Oct.
The association, with little fanfare, put forward a less organized presentation last year. This year, a committee of eight activists spent months rifling through tucked-away relics to try to divine a cohesive story line for Orlando's gay history. But making it happen is the real challenge. There's a distinct absence of "real history" available: a poster from a Lily Tomlin AIDS benefit or a picture of four scantily clad guys mugging in front of the Parliament House marquee here, copies of Cactus club orlando newsletters there.
And most questions about actual dates are met with a vague, "I don't know, I think it was around '87 or maybe ' The Cactus club orlando has come up with a multimedia extravaganza to fill the first floor of the history museum, including DVD presentations showing pride parades, the bar scene and the movie Paul Wegman: A Tributeabout the late Parliament House drag queen known as "Miss P.
The information is also being archived on the website www. It's an imperfect science. It would say on the cover and then on the inside," Bain says. Enter Charlene Bell, a committee member who was inspired by a piece on Parliament House history this newspaper published three years ago see "Under the rainbow … by the Carolina Moon," May 29,wherein the history center met inquiries on gay history with, well, not much.
Bell hopes that by devising an actual timeline she can write a comprehensive book on Orlando's gay history. She came out in the '70s in Orlando. They started off as a social gathering for women who wanted to have a conversation and do something else outside of the bars.
Adds Bain: "At that time, the community was trying so hard to have something that wasn't related around the bars. But the bars were the only way that you could get information out. People didn't even like to get on mailing lists. There's a preponderance of bar memorabilia featured in the exhibit, with good reason. The bar scene was all there was when few wanted to be outed in the light of day.
In the s, the tides shifted with the AIDS epidemic. Being gay could no longer be a series of illicit night crawls and secret meetings. AIDS was front- news, and this burgeoning community was put in a position of legitimate outrage — because the government didn't care — and anxiety. Orlando's underdeveloped gay community had to step up to the plate.
And while we're here, I have a couple of other things I'd like to say. And that, I think, is sophistication, and I think often times elected public officials respond best to that. Sophistication comes with time. The way that ordinances were being used selectively against gays.
While some were, most weren't. Wanzie and fellow activists challenged the arrests and got the innocents' names cleared. Tactics change, and views moderate. Sometimes progress comes incrementally, particularly for the gay community. But it has come, thanks to those who, whatever their methods, stood up, spoke their minds and demanded something better. With this exhibit — still in a fledgling scrapbook phase, but with aims of growing into archived permanence — maybe Orlando can start to do just that.
The Parliament House : The sun around which the whole gay community still orbits. Bears of Central Florida: Nonprofit social organization of big, hairy men best known for annual Bear Bust parties. Located on Mills Avenue and known simply as the Center. Famous for its congested bathrooms. Ensuing boycotts by right-wing hatemongers routinely ignored. Now an all-consuming tourist extravaganza. Pride Flags : The city erects gay pride flags downtown.
The Rev. Pat Robertson threatens us with destruction via hurricanes and meteors for our embrace of sin. Hurricanes come six years later; still awaiting meteors. Patty Sheehan : Cactus club orlando openly gay elected official in the City of Orlando. A really expensive bar.
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