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.