People in the Sarasota area looking for LGBT-friendly resources now have a one-stop shop for their needs thanks to Sarasota OUT, Sarasota’s new LGBT directory of events and businesses.
“I think Sarasota OUT could be the driving force to help make the LGBT community come together,” Sarasota OUT manager Josh Beadle says.
Beadle says he and Al Ferguson, owner of Al and Chuck Travel, have discussed the issue of unification within the Sarasota LGBTQ community. Beadle says he and Ferguson noticed that several LGBT organizations were going in separate directions and no one was coming together to support each other.
“I wanted to give us the one place to go to see what’s going on in Sarasota,” Beadle says. “And Al (Ferguson) lit the candle under my ass to do that.”
The website launched on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, 2016, and is already getting up to 2,000 hits per week. The site is self-sustaining – people can log on and post their own events, businesses, and blogs. Beadle says user-controlled content will ultimately lead to the website’s success. John Secor, Sarasota Film Festival director, is writing cinema-related content for the site.
“Before I moved to Sarasota, I kept my eye on LGBT events going on and the options were slim,” Secor says. “There was one gay bar in town and no true gatherings. It wasn’t until I moved down here and found out about Gay Guy Happy Hour that I really felt connected. The website will be a great resource for all of us.”
Tyler Butler, leader of Sarasota’s “Out and About” community segments, is helping Beadle with media interviews. Butler says by contributing to the site, he saw a great opportunity to network his services with Beadle’s and support the community.
“It’s going to be the first and only of its kind,” Butler says. “It’s the only entertainment blog and directory for the gay community. And it would be great to see Sarasota OUT branch out and become a directory all over.”
Beadle says the website took two years from start to finish; his biggest challenge was that he had difficulty maintaining it on his own. Now that the website is active, he says the biggest challenge will be getting people to participate since it’s new and people aren’t used to using it.
Butler says Sarasota OUT will be collaborating with the Sarasota Film Festival to show films, discuss and review them, and make the films publications of Beadle Media. He says a gossip column is also in the works in which writers will be discussing gay events around town.
Sarasota OUT’s tagline is “The Pulse of Sarasota’s LGBT Community,” which Beadle says stems from a conversation in which Ferguson said, “If we as a community let the tragedy in Pulse act as a coming together, raising money and going back to our everyday lives, what good came out of it?”
“Ever since Orlando, I think we should keep in mind that we have a really big tent, and everyone should feel welcome and safe in that tent,” Secor says. “It bothered me to hear there was divisiveness in that tent. Let’s work to heal that division and remind people about the safe tent that is there for all of us.”