Thursday, July 26, 2007

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle's Homophobic Comments Raise Tourism Questions

Gay activists in South Florida and across the country continue to condemn Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle for comments he made to the Sun-Sentinel earlier this month in reference to a proposed automatic toilet on the beach which he argues would deter 'homosexual activity.' The newspaper further reported Naugle claimed Broward County leads the country in new AIDS cases involving men having sex with men. The mayor further speculated whether local tourism officials should court gay tourists who frequent Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas in droves.

Naugle's comments are certainly insensitive and arguably border on the outrageous. Activists are certainly justified in their outrage as their mayor represents one of the most popular destinations for gays and lesbians in the country. National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman pointed out the $1 billion these visitors contribute to the local economy during a "Flush Naugle Rally" outside Fort Lauderdale City Hall on Tuesday.

"Sadly, Mayor Naugle's comments do more than embarrass any thinking person," he said. "They are a stain on each one of you. They are a stain on every person in Broward County."

Foreman's categorization is correct but many Fort Lauderdale businesses that benefit from pink tourism dollars have begun to question the potential impact Naugle's comments will have on their bottom lines. Activists in Fort Lauderdale and arguably around the country will determine how to apply additional pressure on the mayor. They could call upon him to resign or call upon city officials to launch an investigation into his conduct. Activists could also call upon gay and lesbian tourists to boycott the city until Naugle steps down.

Groups on the Jersey Shore and other pink vacation areas have faced similarly difficult choices in recent years as to how they chose to respond to homophobic elected officials and discrimination in their backyards. Those in Fort Lauderdale are now at a similar crossroads as they formulate a response to these outrageous comments which have tarnished the reputation of the South Florida gay Mecca.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


i worked with several employees from the city of fort lauderdale in the 90's and it was known that mayor jim naugle frequented gay clubs in the 80's. he has always been known to swing very conservative to cover this up.

interview any employees from the city of that era (OFF THE RECORD) and they'll tell you the truth. please blog this everywhere you can and get the real deal from the folks who have had to deal with his hipocrisy. look in the P.D. and parks and rec departments for the truth.

jim naugle's deep throat
city of fort lauderdale