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Wilton Drive voice held a meeting to address the concerns of the city losing its LGBTQ heritage.

- Kim Swan, Editor

Feature

Wilton Drive Voice Wants To Protect City’s LGBTQ Heritage

By John Hayden

A new, mid-rise apartment building will soon cast a shadow over the heart of Wilton Drive. But a fight for the city’s soul already casts a long shadow that extends well beyond the vaunted Drive. 

With the Wilma project at The Shoppes of Wilton Manors and a hotel nearby on Dixie Hwy., growth is coming. The question is, who is coming along with the growth? Wilton Drive Voice (WDV) held a town hall at Eagle, which focused on fears that Wilton Manors will lose its LGBTQ vibe. City Commissioners Don D’Arminio and Chris Caputo were on the panel. They were joined by gallery owner Claudia Castillo, Eagle owner Chuck King, Lorenzo Robertson from Ujima Men’s Collective, and Patrick Volkert from Hunters Nightclub. 

While concerns about the future motivated WDV to hold the meeting, immediate threats dominated the conversation. Specifically: rents. 

Like housing around the area, prime retail fronts cost more and more with no ceiling in sight. King’s Eagle has a long lease, but when they went to the property owner to discuss creating an outdoor patio, King says the owner wanted to write up a new lease — at triple the rent. Eagle isn’t the only example. 

Businesses up and down The Drive face similar situations. WDV formed last year in an attempt to give business owners a collective voice in the future of the city, specifically nurturing the city’s LGBTQ presence. Founder Jude Belanger is promoting San Francisco’s model of an All Cultures Heritage Strategy Plan. 

Driving concerns are that heterosexuals will move into the new housing, bring “straight” businesses in (whatever that means) and de-queer the city. 

WDV’s website says its mission is “to safeguard diversity and cultural heritage by preserving and advancing traditions, businesses, arts, health, non-profits, and practices for future generations.” The focus of the meeting was the queerification, or re-queerification of the city. 

However, the event started on a decidedly anti-straight note. Local actor and comedian Peter Bisuito did about 10 minutes of standup to warm up the crowd. The material focused on the lack of baby strollers and crying toddlers on Wilton Drive, and he wants to keep it that way.

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La Mexicana Taco Bar holds karaoke on Fridays.


SAT: The Saturday Night Showcase

Your favorite music, stiff drinks, a good meal, and fun entertainment? That sounds like a great way to spend the night at The Well.


SUN: Drag Brunch

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Friday's Furry Friend

Hey there, I'm Apollo, and I’m looking for a new BFF! I’m 3-years-old, 51 pounds and could be described as a short stack. I’m not very tall. I’m ready to have some fun if you are. Can I please be your guy? Thanks to dog lover Letty, she has kindly paid my adoption fee.

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