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We the People held its first "disorganizational" meeting in February of 1988. Beth Raps, Jim Ford and Saviz Shafaie were the founding members. The local activist organization sponsored such events as a Gay Pride Protest Winter Park on June 26, 1988. A Pride Celebration for that day was denied a city permit but more than 50 gay and lesbian people came together anyway at Central Park to protest the City's permit denial and to plan further actions. Eleven Ku Klux Klan members in full traditional white regalia also showed up at this event as did two Winter Park Swat Team officers and sixteen members of the media press. *Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=r5fjw5OtgEY
The first Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Chapter in Central Florida was spearheaded by Allene Baus (pictured on left holding the flag). Upon returning home from a gay rights march on Washington in 1987 and there learning about the national PFLAG organization, Baus committed herself to form a local chapter in Orlando. She first rented a P.O. box and then wrote to Adele Starr of the national PFLAG chapter, who sent Baus information about starting a chapter. Baus then wrote articles for two area gay/lesbian publications which led to a few people contacting her to express interest. In April of 1988, they began to hold meetings at the Baus home.
On October 15, 1988, the first National Coming Out Day (NCOD) celebration in Central Florida was held at Winter Park's Central Park. Spearheaded and MCd by local activist Joel Strack of We the People, the local rally coincided with other first NCODs in 18 states around the country. Winter Park City Manager Dave Harden approved the event. Local activists spoke about their own personal Coming Out stories or observations. Among the speakers were: Patty Shehan, Loving Committed Network; Lee Moody, Gay and Lesbian Community Center; Jason Hobb, We The People; and Ellen Home, National Organization for Women. An estimated 40 people attended this event.
A second annual NCOD celebration is reported to have taken place at the same Winter Park location in October 1989. Between 1990 and 1994, the History Museum has no record of NCOD celebrations being held in Central Florida.
From 1994 through 2004 (eleven years) the University of Central Florida's Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Student Union (GLBSU) sponsored NCOD every year for Central Florida's gay community, first on campus and then on the steps of City Hall. During this period, the event was called "A Light in the Closet" and featured coming-out stories, entertainment, and a candle vigil for those unable to come out of the closet.
In 2005 the NCOD annual event was co-sponsored for the first time by the Metropolitan Business Association (MBA) with GLBSU, and it was named COME OUT WITH PRIDE. MBA had the proven leadership and needed resources to expand the NCOD celebration from a rally into a major celebration, a rally, a festival, a local GLBT history exhibit, and a parade.
The Full Moon Saloon opened at 500 S Orange Blossom Trail (next door to the Parliament House Resort). It was formerly known as Blue Beards Oyster Bar.
Thunders opens at 3700 S. Orange Blossom Trail in a building that once housed a convenience store. A year later, it changed its orientation to straight clientele and reopened as the "End Zone". It was then knocked down and became the site of a Denny's restaurant that went out of business in 2004.
Jim Ford, member of the Coalition for Human Rights and a local gay activist, spearheaded a proposal for an ill-fated Human Rights Ordinance for Orange County.
David Schuler, a board member of GALA (Gay and Lesbian Association of Choruses), moves to Orlando from Omaha and seeks the assistance of GCS to form the Orlando Gay Chorus. The group sponsors a concert on November 18, 1989 at Valencia College featuring the Tampa Bay Gay Men's Chorus and the Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida. This concert provided an impetus for the formation of the Orlando Gay Chorus (OGC).
"Sysop TRON" (aka, Noel Hansen) starts Compu-Who in his spare bedroom, thereby launching Orlando's first Gay Bulletin Board System (BBS). Eventually, Compu-Who had over 200 users. Up to 12 users could be online at one time. Members were able to send text messages utilizing up to 9600 baud modems and using a brand new technology at the time, the CD-ROM.
Orange County Sherriff Walt Galagher fired Deputy Tom Woodard after an investigation revealed that Woodard was bisexual.
This prompted a "Rally Against Homophobia" on May 20 at Constitutional Green in downtown Orlando. Activist Michael Wanzie organized the event.
Nearby the Green, Klu Klux Klan members and Reverend John Butler Book protested against the Rally.
*Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=G3LswFdbQpc
Deputy Woodard took his case to Court, represented by Orlando attorney Bill Sheaffer and Evan Wilson of the Human Rights Task Force. Woodard won his case in Court.
On June 18, 1989, the board of directors of Gay Community Services (GCS) voted to rename the organization Gay and Lesbian Community Services (GLCS). In a plan to merge GLCS with The Center, the GCS board also voted to accept the board members of The Center as board members of the newly named GLCS.
David Bain, later a co-founder of the GLBT History Museum, assumed the position of President of the newly merged organization. As reasons for the merger, Bain cited the need to eliminate repetitive services and wasted money. He also noted the need to help reduce "burnout" often experienced by volunteers who worked for the benefit of both organizations.
The first Gay Escape cruise was a fundraiser for Gay and Lesbian Community Services (GLCS, now called the GLBT Center) aboard the M/S Scandinavian Sky on September 15, 1989. The event was entitled "P on the Sea" and featured entertainment by Miss P. The cost of the cruise was $49 and included dinner. The ship departed from Port Canaveral at 7:30 p.m. and returned at 1:30 a.m. Michael Wanzie, Eric Poff, David Bain, Scott Alles, and Larry Nicastro were the core committee members of the fundraiser.
This first of three Gay Escape cruises, "P on the Sea" was the most successful fundraiser in GLCS history and allowed them the financial ability to hire its first 2 employees.
Immediately after the end of the fundraising event GayEscape, Gay Community Services moved to its second location, a larger 2-story home at 750 West Colonial Drive.
The Grand Opening was held on Saturday, October 14. The board signed a 2 year lease.
Headdress Ball was first held as a floral headdress competition at the Beecham Theater by Hope & Help in 1989 as a fundraiser for this HIV organization. The event was then called "A Night Blooming." It was the brainchild of Lee Price, owner of Petal Pushers Florist in Orlando. The cost was a mere $10 per person.
A huge success, the event continues strong many years later. The gala features extravagant "hats" and costumes and has attracted headliners such as Amanda Bearse. Tickets to the event start at $200. This photo shows a floral headdress worn at one of the earlier annual events.
Jeff Horn, a local nationally acclaimed tennis professional, went to the Gay Games III in 1990, playing doubles and singles tennis.
The local Ocala Gay Organization (LOGO) formed to service the GLBT needs of Marion County. Its first event was held at the Moss Bluff picnic area. John S., Tim L. and Rick K. were listed as officers.
Logo documents and images of LOGO activities are requested by the History Museum.
Joy MCC purchased the property of the former Calvary Missionary Baptist Church at 2301 S. Ferncreek. Featuring a 250 seat sanctuary and a social hall that seats 100, the Church was bought for $270,000.
Delta Youth Alliance became the first organized youth group in Central Florida to provide peer activities and social support to young GLBT persons. DYA was formed by Terry Deischer and Jeff Horn, and it was the second youth group to emerge in the State of Florida.
DYA has since evolved first into the Gay and Lesbian Idea eXchange for Youth (Galixy) and now into the Orlando Youth Alliance (OYA).
Owned by Judy Shaw and located on 17-92 at Fairbanks, this bar became a well-known lesbian bar, as well as hang-out for Rollins College students. The bar featured live music on the week-ends, including many lesbian performers. During the mid-90's Sadie's Tavern was the local 'Cheers' for many in the lesbian community.
On February 14 the Orlando Gay Chorus (OGC) was founded at a meeting in the Roger's Room at Rollins College. It’s fitting that its founding was on Valentine’s Day because over the next two-plus decades the organization would truly be taken to heart by the Central Florida Community.
OGC was initially under the leadership of Founding President, David Schuler and Founding Artistic Director, Dr. Charles Callahan. It began with 39 members.
The Premiere Concerts were held on June 23 & 24, 1990, at the Orlando Museum of Art. This photo was taken at the premiere.
Trans-AID support services received the first Disney community service award given to an AIDS service organization at a ceremony in May.
June 28, 1990. The first AIDS quilt panels, sewn locally in memory of people who have died of AIDS, were displayed at an AIDS memorial service at Lake Eola Amphitheater (pictured). In addition, the names of AIDS victims were read aloud, several speeches were given and the Orlando Gay Chorus sang a few songs. The panels were made by the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Central Florida and by the Central Florida AIDS Unified Resources, or CENTAUR. Later, these panels joined the national quilt under the auspices of a national organization called The NAMES Project.
Because many GLBT students could not attend their high school proms with a date of the same sex, Michael Wanzie who was then President of the Gay and Lesbian Community Services produced the Prom that Never Was. The prom for all ages featured a return to mythical Lambda High and was held on September 8, 1990 at Orlando's Loch Haven Neighborhood Center.
*Videos by Lee Lewis, links:
In 1991 the Gay and Lesbian Parents Coalition (GLPC) applied for and adopted a portion of Colonial Drive/Route 50 that stretched from Orange Blossom Trail to Bumby Avenue. For the next four years, that stretch of the road had signs up proudly proclaiming that GLPC had adopted it. The Adopt-A-Highway program was set up by local municipalities as a way to involve groups in litter control. The application/adoption by GLPC was the brainchild of GLPC member Chris Alexander.
The pictured sign was vandalized once.
On March 7, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) raided the Orlando office of Trans-Aid and the home of its founder and director, Alfredo Martinez-Garcia. AZT and other medications were seized. Alfredo was "charged with dispensing morphine, codeine and prescription-strength Tylenol without a medical license to AIDS sufferers." Alfredo went to trial and was found innocent of all charges by the jury. The trial was featured on CourtTV. Similarities to this case can be found in the 2013 movie, Dallas Buyers Club.
In cooperation with Tampa MCC, GLCS produced its third and final GayEscape cruise on Saturday May 4, 1991, aboard the M/S Scandanavian Song. It featured Marilyn Monroe impersonator Jimmy James and comedian Monica Grant from San Francisco.
"First... It was "Gay Day at the Fair", Now it's.. Gay Day at Disney! Wear red and be seen!"
It was that simple one eighth page ad in the June 1991 Center Fold (the GLBT Center's newspaper) that started it all. Some members of CompuWho (Orlando's first Gay Bulletin Board System), at the urging of Doug Swallow, reportedly started this now infamous day. An estimated 3,000-4,000 LGBT attendees were at the first celebration.
Gay Day later became Gay Days at Disney World in Orlando. It expanded to a week-long celebration and has become a major international event, drawing hundreds of thousands of LGBT participants each year.
The first Orlando Regional Pride Parade occured on Saturday, June 22, 1991, around Lake Eola. After the parade, a rally was held at the Lake Eola band shell.
Joel Strack was the chairman of the event and LeJune Perrin was his co-chair. Keith Morrison was the volunteer coordinator, and
Phyliss Murphy and Brian Arbogast de Hubert-Miller were also on the board of Orlando Regional Pride. Approximately 500-800 people participated.
Pictured are AT&T, Gay and Lesbian Student Association (GLSA), and City Lights.
An AIDS Memorial Ceremony was held on Thursday June 27, 1991, at the Lake Eola Bandshell. It featured the Orlando Gay Chorus and a reading of the names of local AIDS victims. The event was sponsored by GLCS and organized by GLCS VP John E. Rose.
Act Out Theater was founded in September 1991 by Lewis Routh and friends. Opened to the public in July 1992, the theater was located at 533 North Virginia Avenue, Winter Park, the former site of Scott Laurent Galleries. This gay-owned Central Florida based gay and lesbian theater company provided plays with gay and lesbian themes.
On December 5, the first Red Ribbon Ball was presented at Orlando Fashion Square, from 10:30 p.m to 2:30 a.m. Jazz singer Jacqueline Jones provided the entertainment. The event was sponsored by CENTAUR, the first local organization to serve persons with HIV. Tickets were $25 each. At the time, CENTAUR received only about 60 percent of its funding from United Way and state grants, according to Debbie Tucci, CENTAUR's executive director. Therefore, additional fund raising activities, such as the Ball, were essential for the organization.
THE LOST LANGUAGE OF CRANES, a film dealing with a gay son coming out to his parents and his discovery that his father is also gay, was pulled from the broadcast schedule of local station WMFE, which was chaired then by Leon Handley.
In protest, a number of GLBT supporters spoke in favor of the showing of the film at a subsequent WMFE board meeting. Among these activists were radio personality Clive Thomas, human rights activist Brian Arbogast , and PFLAG member Chris Alexander.
In its June 1992 issue, the arts and entertainment magazine Center Stage refused to run a listing that advertised the Orlando Gay Chorus.
According to the magazine’s editor Mary Johnston, it was the identification of the Chorus as a gay organization that was objectionable. As Johnston stated, “We’re not a forum for something that [is] politically controversial and morally sensitive, and something that it is a health risk.”
At the time, both the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) and public broadcasting had come under severe pressure from conservative government officials for their support of liberal subject matter.
Mike Hodge, owner of the Parliament House, passed away at the age of 48. Ownership and operation of the resort was turned over to his brother Sam Hodge.
The Metropolitan Business Association (MBA) held its first meeting, March 12, 1992. The meeting was held at Joy Metropolitan Community Church, and was attended by 30 people. The business guild organization, initially called and publicized as the Greater Orlando Business Association (GOBA), was the vision of Michael J. Sopoliga, editor of the Center Fold, and Keith Morrison.
The first officers were: President-Keith Morrison, Vice President - Debbie Simmons, Treasurer - Dorothy Kuhlman, Secretary - Mary Brooks, and Program Director - Karen Good.
A local controversy ensued when the word "fags" was noted in the comment section of a customer's receipt on the box of a Pizza Hut order being delivered to the Phoenix Club on Aloma. The pizza customer complained to the Pizza Hut management who explained the incident as "a joke".
The customer later made a noise in the gay community. As an apology, Pizza Hut set up a booth at the 1992 gay pride picnic.
CENTER FOLD, a monthly newspaper published by Gay Lesbian Community Services of Central Florida (GLCS), was awarded the ACLU Community Honor Roll Award. The paper received the award for fostering "cohesiveness and courage" in the local gay and lesbian community and "for standing up for the collective rights of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals throughout the area." Editor Michael Sopoliga accepted the award on behalf of the Center Fold.
The Orange Blossom Tennis Association (OBTA) was founded by Jeff Horn to provide a healthy and positive atmosphere for men and women of all economic, racial, and sexual backgrounds to play recreational and competitive tennis.
While the OBTA has a definite tennis focus, it's also very much about the fellowship and friendships developed on and off the courts.
From 1992 until 1994 this beautiful weekend getaway owned by Tony and John on the Banana River at 131 Sunny Lane in Cocoa Beach was where you could go and be completely out.
Orlando's first gay and lesbian bookstore officially opened on June 6 of 1992 at 930 N Mills Avenue by Bruce Ground. The store had relocated from its original home in Tampa.
On July 25 eight people came together to form Bears of Central Florida, a non-profit social organization dedicated to the fellowship and brotherhood of Bears and their admirers. The Bears also raise funds for local area charities. It's annual Bear Bust event, held the third week of October, has grown every year since its inception and has become one of the largest events of this kind in the world.
The first Bear Bust event was created by the Bears of Central Florida and was hosted by Bob Graves at the Full Moon Saloon on October 23-25, 1992. Although future Bear Busts had themes, the first one did not. One hundred and twenty-five Bears attended this first gathering.
There were games and a poolside Bear Contest at the Parliament House.
There was a barbeque with steaks and chicken at Full Moon.
The farewell dinner was held at Gary's Duck Inn. (Date of photo is unknown.)
Brian Arbogast and Saviz Shafaie were selected to serve 2-year terms on the WMFE-Public TV Community Action Board (CAB). This was a result of WMFE's refusal to air the gay film, The Lost Language of Cranes, because it objected to the scene of two men kissing.
The U.S. Naval Training Center color guard, citing the ban of homosexuality in the armed services, refused to perform during an AIDS memorial service at Lake Eola park.
Mike Rice and Will Halpern co-founded the Orlando Front Runners in 1993. The name came from Patricia Nell Warren's novel about gay athletes entitled "The Front Runner". It's inaugural run was at Lake Eola Park on Saturday January 30, 1993.
The GLBT community descended in protest upon the studios of WCPX-Channel 6 on John Young Parkway when they chose not to air a CBS after-school presentation of "Other Mothers." This film follows the life of a 16 year old boy and explores the challenges he faces when his schoolmates and teachers learn that his mother and her roommate are a lesbian couple. WCPX general manager Mike Schweitzer claimed that complaints against the movie prompted him to make the decision not to air the program.
The hour long protest was ignored by the local media.
A group of about 20 neo-nazi skinheads protested in front of the Parliament House on Saturday February 27, 1993. Across the street, gay and lesbian counter-demonstrators who were led by GLCS president David Bain and vice-president John Rose outnumbered the skinheads three to one.
A star-studded AIDS gala "Voices" was first held on March 26, 1993 at the Tupperware auditorium. The event was co-chaired by Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson, and Leanza Cornett. It was a joint project of Aids Resource Alliance and the Florida Professional Entertainment Community.
In April artists Dawn Rosendahl and Cheryl Turner founded Rosencone Studios where gay and lesbian themed sculptures, paintings and collectibles were created. Pictured is the cover of the first Studios' catalog.
On April 25, the Third March on Washington for GLBT rights was held. Gay and Lesbian Community Services (GLCS) secured 20 rooms for Central Florida participants. The photo shows some of these participants carrying the Center banner and representing the Central Florida community in the march.