South Florida group disappointed in Gay Days expansion dates

By : Steve Blanchard
Comments: 5

Fort Lauderdale – As Gay Days in Orlando revved up for its 24th year, organizers announced that it would expand in the fall to create a Gay Days event in Fort Lauderdale over Thanksgiving weekend. While that expansion is expected to bring an economic boost to the area, the timing of the expansion is poor, according to Care Resource, South Florida’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS service organization.

In a letter addressed to Gay Days president Chris Alexander-Manley and received by Watermark on June 18, Care Resource Chief Executive Officer Rick Siclari expressed disappointment in the timing of the Gay Days expansion Nov. 25-Dec. 1 to South Florida because it directly conflicts with the 30-year-old White Party, which serves as a fundraiser for the HIV/AIDS organization.

“For 30 years, during Thanksgiving weekend, individuals, businesses, various nonprofit and LGBT organizations in South Florida have been playing an integral role in our agency’s fundraising efforts by sponsoring, promoting and supporting the world’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS fundraiser, the crown jewel of HIV/AIDS fundraiser’s ‘White Party Week,'” Siclari wrote. “Although we are happy that Gay Days is expanding into South Florida, we are disappointed about your choice of dates… as this is another time our community suffers from someone arriving in town and capitalizing off what our not-for-profit agency has spent years building to benefit our HIV positive community.”

Siclari says in his letter that several individuals and party organizers have capitalized over White Party Week in the past, which pull away from the fundraising efforts of the three-decades-old celebration benefitting the outreach and services Care Resource provides to more than 10,000 people in South Florida.

“Well known DJs have produced their own parties at the same time,” Siclari said. “The profits did not go back into the community and they benefited nobody but the DJs themselves.”

White Party Week includes some of Miami’s best venues and has national sponsors, internationally renowned DJs and entertainers that also encompasses the Muscle Beach Party on Miami Beach each year. That party ends with a fireworks finale spectacular.

Siclari says several times in his letter that he welcomes Gay Days’ expansion to South Florida, but expresses hopes that a non-conflicting time could be used in the future. He highlights several other organizations and events that use other times of years to prevent direct conflicting events.

“Aqua Girl, Gay Spring Break, the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Pridefest , Tropical Heat, Gay Pride, Fantasy Fest and Winter Party Festival are examples of events in South Florida that are held on different dates as a way for the LGBT community to collaborate and not compete,” Sinclari wrote. “When the LGBT community collaborates and moves forward together, then the success of an event takes care of itself. We are saddened by the non-inclusiveness of the South Florida LGBT business and nonprofit community in determining your event dates.”

The White Party was conceived by Frank Wager and is not a corporate venture, Siclari adds.

“White Party is not about business enterprise, it is about people, friends, those we care for, and those whose memories we will continue to honor, by helping those we still can,” Siclari wrote. “We hope that moving forward you consult with the South Florida LGBT businesses and nonprofit community in determining a more appropriate date.

Watermark called Alexander-Manley requesting comment about the conflict but the voice mailbox was full on June 19.

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  • Mark Ferguson

    So one Circuit Party Organization that raises money for AIDS a.k.a. White Party is upset that the organizers of another Circuit Party Organization a.k.a. Gay Days is having a event at the same time as their event? Has Gay Days organizers lose their focus over Equality, and Pride and focused on money instead, and do they still care about the community like the organizers of the White Party? You decide? This reminds me what happened several years ago.

  • Jim Buresch

    I would argue as I did in an expose for The Independent Gay News 8 years ago titled “A Gay Conundrum”, that an HIV non-profit like Care Resources has no business being in the business of all night dance parties that promote the use of crystal meth and other party drugs that directly lead to new cases of HIV; thus creating new clients for their organization.

    • Michael Pettine III

      That’s a point albeit if applied to all charity non profits trying to reduce the effects of the disease they fight,would not hold a drop of water.Care Resource doesn’t dictate how humans behave but they know how to get peoples attention and money to put it to good use; just like American Cancer foundation with all their Gala’s. Gala , which if you’ve ever been to, you know serve as much alcohol as people pay for.Anyone in fundraising understands, if you want something someone else has($$) you must appeal to their human desires.Deeply.If it weren’t for the gay dancer and partier’s whose behavior we all wish weren’t so raw, shall we say, Gay charity and drives wouldn’t exist,period. Without these important fund raisers we’d still be waiting for the government and others to save us.We don’t live in a perfect world people. Grow up. But,We can do what we can to help those at risk.

      • Jim Buresch

        Care Resources hosting the White Party is akin to the Heart Foundation hosting a Fried Chicken and BBQ fund raiser. Consuming a few drinks at Gala is not a good comparison to hours and hours of G, K, X, and T use that is snorted, smoked, shot up, or put up the ass. Who needs to grow up are the folks who pray upon base instincts to raise money. In your reply you even noted the irony of them creating their future clients. I don’t care about Gay Days. What I give a damn about is how gay men are exploited by other gay men for profit and pleasure.

  • otown guy

    What Chris and Tommy Manley create with Gay Days is nothing more than a trumped up business expo that sells lube, swimsuits and magazines. They have shown time and time again over the years they care nothing for the gay community and are out to only make a buck.

    I have never known them to give back anything other than free ad space to the MCC. I commend Chris on his business skills at trademarking a name that was synonymous with the first Saturday in June at the Magic Kingdom, and then turning a profit on it.

    Each year, they beg for volunteers to help with the Orlando event, only to toss them a free t-shirt and sometimes a free dinner/overnight at the host hotel later in the year…(all paid by the hotel of course).

    All anyone in South Florida has to see is how lame this gay days activity is, not support it, and it will go away, like a rodent. Any success they have had in Las Vegas is clearly the result of attaching themselves directly on Las Vegas Pride, and not some $20 bear soup party.