main big attractions in the state of Florida are Disneyland,
of course, and the J F Kennedy Space Center. When we talk
about gay Florida we are talking about the three main
gay areas in the south of the state plus the occasional
gay day at Disneyland further north in the centre of the
state. Each of the three areas has its own distinct character.
Fort Lauderdale is spread out, making hiring a car de
rigeur (unless you find a friendly native to hang out
with) but it has a great variety of bars and clubs from
leather to twink bars and dance clubs. There are also
plenty of gay and gay-friendly businesses and guesthouses.
Thirty or forty minutes away by car is a different scene,
South Beach, Miami.
South Beach or SoBe, is more for the male gay scene -
full of tanned muscled guys living an outdoor life on
the long white-sanded beach, or in and around the incredible
pastel art deco houses with hundreds of bars and clubs
and smart restaurants. Finally, again a contrast, is the
wonderful Key West - the southernmost point of the United
West is a small and relatively sedate scene but it does
have a variety of bars within walking distance including
a leather bar, a couple of drag clubs and a Sunday afternoon
tea-dance. There are plenty of guest houses and this resort
is favoured by couples wanting a holiday together and
the older guy. Apart from the relatively gay scene here
it’s a must to take a five hour tour of the coral
reef and look in on the famous Ernest Hemingway House
where he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls and To Have and
To Have Not. You can also see some six-toed cats who live
here named after Hollywood legends. Finally there is a
sunset celebration where everyone gathers to watch, er,
the sun, er, set. Originally a hippy (surprise, surprise)
ritual it is now a very commercial operation so either
take no money or a lot.
Further Reading: A
great guide to gay life of southern Florida is OutAround
Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Key West by the London Evening
Standard’s columnist David G Taylor. Thomas Cook
Publishing publishes it at a very reasonable £7.99.
This compact 160-page guide (light and easy to carry around
in a pocket) is packed with plenty of up-to-date maps
and colour snaps. The three areas are treated with their
own sections and the author’s recommended list of
shops, hotels, discos, beaches and bars and so on is a
convenient quick reference for any visitor. Highly recommended.