With the second-largest gay population in the United States, Florida is bound to make the news, for the better and for the worse. We made great strides this year; for example, we inaugurated a push to bring the marriage equality question back to the ballot box. We also created new domestic partnership registries and passed new anti-discrimination laws in municipalities throughout the state. Sadly, there were also roadblocks to equality; Senator Marco Rubio was key in blocking progress on a number of fronts this year. There were also a number of hate crimes statewide, and even a high-profile shooting death. From the sorrow, however, hope was born; this was evident in the record number of attendees at pride events and the record-setting fundraising for LGBT rights and for HIV/AIDS service organizations. Anything but simple, 2013 will be a year that’s hard to forget for the LGBT community in Florida.
Here’s a rundown of the events that made the pages of Hotspots and/or national newspapers and magazines in 2013.
January 1 – “ONE,” a day-long party featuring the talents of seven different DJs, is held at Boom Nightclub in Wilton Manors.
January 19-20 – The fourth annual Boca Fine Arts Show is held in Boca Raton.
January 28 – The fifth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race debuts on Logo. For the first time ever, five queens with ties to Florida competed in the same season: Serena Cha Cha, Jade Jolie, Coco Montrese, Detox, and Roxxxy Andrews.
February 1 – Pride Factory of Wilton Manors celebrates its 17th anniversary.
February 28 – March 3 – The Palace South Beach celebrates its 25th anniversary.
March 6 – The Hope and Help Center of Central Florida celebrates its 25th anniversary with a party at The Abbey in Orlando.
March 9-10 – Pride South Florida, one of the oldest LGBT pride celebrations in Florida, holds its 36th annual celebrations.
March 15-24 – The Miami Beach Convention Center plays host to the Winter Music Conference.
March 17 – Equality Florida holds their annual Miami Gala.
March 23-24 – Pridefest of the Palm Beaches celebrates its 20th year. Organizers estimate a total of 12,000 participants in the pride parade.
March 24 – The Florida AIDS Walk and Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale brings out thousands walking for a good cause. Special guest singers at the music festival include Chaka Khan and Sheryl Lee Ralph.
April 5 – A federal district judge ruled that DeSoto County High School officials likely violated student Amber Hatcher’s First Amendment rights when she was suspended from school for participating in GLSEN’s “Day of Silence.”
April 19 – Pro Shop Pub in Clearwater celebrates 37 years in business; it is the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the Tampa Bay area.
April 28 – AIDS Walk Miami, benefiting Care Resource, celebrates its 25th anniversary.
May 3 – A bill in the Florida Senate which would have created a statewide domestic partnership dies in committee.
May 8 – Former Governor Charlie Crist, once against marriage equality, announces his belief that gay couples should be allowed to marry after all.
May 11 – Sidelines Sports Bar in Wilton Manors celebrates its seventh anniversary.
May 15-18 – Alibi in Wilton Manors celebrates its 16th anniversary.
May 18 – AIDS Walk Orlando, benefiting the Hope and Help Center of Central Florida, raises over $130,000.
May 24-27 – Pensacola’s Memorial Day Weekend celebrations bring in 60,000 people eager to start the summer circuit party season.
May 28 – Anthony Jerome Lee, better known in Florida drag circles as Wanda, is shot and killed at the home of a friend in Tampa. Deandre Tolliver is arrested and charged with first-degree murder for shooting Lee.
May 30 – Student Bayli Silberstein wins her court battle to create a gay-straight alliance at Carver Middle School in Lake County.
June 5 – The Hillsborough County Commission votes 7-0 to remove its ban on the recognition of gay pride by the county.
June 7 – Erin and Elizabeth Czerwinski, who have two mothers, are the first siblings in Key West High School history to be named valedictorian and salutatorian in the same year.
June 12 – Senator Marco Rubio threatens to walk away from a comprehensive immigration bill if it gives immigration rights to gay couples. The next day, he goes on to state that he believes people shouldn’t be protected from job termination due to their sexual orientation.
June 26-29 – 125,000 people are estimated to have participated in St. Pete Pride’s week of festivities, with the vast majority turning out for the parade and street festival on the final day.
July 4 – Former Miami Heat player Tim Hardaway, infamous for announcing his hatred for gay people in 2007, becomes the first person to sign the Equal Marriage Florida petition to bring back the issue of same-sex marriage to Florida voters. In the past few years, Hardaway has become an LGBT ally and youth mentor.
July 11 – Alex Wilson, a transgender woman, certified nursing assistant and student at the Pinellas Technical Education Center in Clearwater, is threatened with expulsion for using the female restroom and is instead offered a separate bathroom inside of a storage closet. The ACLU agrees to help Wilson take the case to court the next month.
July 18-21 – Miami Beach Bruthaz celebrates its eighth year of celebrations in South Beach.
July 24-27 – Pulse Orlando celebrates its ninth anniversary.
July 31 – The Casa Di Amici condominium association in Venice bars non-married couples from buying a home in their subdivision. Since Florida doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages performed outside the state, gay couples were effectively blocked from buying condominiums there. The association reverses its decision after three weeks of media coverage and public outcry.
August 2 – Cornelius Davis agrees to plead guilty to a felony and will go to jail for six months for shooting a spectator at St. Pete Pride in late June.
August 3 – Poverello’s 23rd annual Bowling to Fight Hunger was held at Sawgrass Lanes in Tamarac and raised $48,000 for hungry men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS.
August 13 – Alachua County passes new ordinances protecting LGBT people from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations.
August 29 – Georgie’s Alibi in St. Petersburg celebrates its 13th anniversary.
September 2 – Journalist and competitive swimmer Diana Nyad, who is also an out lesbian, completes the swim from Havana to Key West without a shark cage (the fifth time she attempted this specific swimming route). She completes the 110-mile swim in 53 hours.
September 7 – AIDS Walk Tampa Bay, benefiting the AIDS Service Association of Pinellas, celebrates its 10th anniversary.
September 14 – Metro Wellness Centers celebrates their 20th anniversary with a gala event at the Tampa Bay Garden Club.
September 24 – Senator Marco Rubio drops his support for President Obama’s nomination of William Thomas to the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Without Rubio’s support, Thomas’s nomination cannot proceed. Senator Rubio’s motives are questioned and supporters of Judge Thomas assume Rubio stalled the nomination because Judge Thomas is black and gay.
October 1-5 – Come Out with Pride Orlando celebrates its ninth year. 120,000 people participate in the parade and festival at Lake Eola on the final day of the festivities. Singer Steve Grand headlines the entertainment.
October 3 – Kaitlyn Hunt of Vero Beach pleads no contest to five charges stemming from a relationship Hunt had with another girl when she was 18 and the other girl was 14. She is sentenced to four months in jail, two years of house arrest and nine months of probation afterward.
October 9 – Village Pub in Wilton Manors celebrates one year in business.
October 11 – State Rep. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) compares gay parenting to physical and drug abuse during a meeting of the Florida Education Commission’s K-12 subcommittee. He said in part, “It’s easy to say parents need to get involved, but half these kids are raising themselves. They don’t have any parents that are functional. How can we address that? I mean I sat an hour and a half with a teacher telling me: ‘This child has got serial men coming through the house, this one has two mommies, this one has an abusive father…this has alcoholism, this one has drug abuse.'” Rep. Baxley apologizes for his comment one week later.
October 12 – 10,000 people participate in the 34th annual River City Pride Parade in downtown Jacksonville. A festival is held the next weekend.
October 18 – Out HGTV designer David Bromstad hosts a fundraising event for The Salvation Army in Fort Lauderdale. Roundly criticized on social media, Bromstad wrote a response addressing his decision to work with The Salvation Army; it said in part, “I took the Salvation Army’s request to participate in their fundraiser as one step in the right direction towards equality.”
October 19 – The GLBT Community Center of Central Florida hosts their second annual Black and White Gala fundraiser at Quantum Leap Winery in Orlando.
October 19 – The Sarasota Pride festival attracts 5,000 people to J.D. Hamel Park in downtown Sarasota.
October 26 – The Hope and Help Center of Central Florida hosts the 24th annual Headdress Ball at the Hilton Orlando Resort.
October 28 – Senator Bill Nelson co-sponsors the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Before signing on to the bill, Nelson was one of only three Democrats in the Senate holding out on publicly supporting it.
November 1 – Equality Florida holds their annual Orlando Gala.
November 4 – Charlie Crist, Governor of Florida from 2007-11, announces his intention to run against incumbent Governor Rick Scott in the 2014 election. Crist, once a Republican, is now affiliated with the Democratic Party.
November 5 – The Florida National Guard announces they will give full benefits to same-sex couples; the state Guard had previously spent two months in defiance of the Pentagon’s pro-gay policy toward spousal benefits.
November 11-17 – Revolution in Orlando celebrates its sixth anniversary.
November 16 – Senator Marco Rubio gives the keynote address at the 2013 Florida Family Policy Council Awards Dinner. The Florida Family Policy Council was the group that led the petition drive to put Amendment 2 (banning gay marriage) on the ballot in 2008.
November 17 – Equality Florida holds their annual Broward Gala.
November 20 – The Human Rights Campaign releases its annual Municipal Equality Index. Miami Beach is the only city in Florida, and one of only 25 nationally, to score a perfect 100.
November 27 – December 2 – The 29th annual White Party is held in Miami to benefit Care Resource. The main party, on November 30, is headlined by Offer Nissim and featured DJ Joe Gauthreaux and a performance by Kerli.
November 29 – The Manor in Wilton Manors hosts “Pillage and Plunder,” an event that welcomed the largest number of RuPaul’s Drag Race performers in one nightclub at one time; over 40 queens participated.
December 1 – Tea Party leader Danita Kilcullen accuses the Log Cabin Republicans of “hijacking” leadership positions in the Broward County Republican Party.
December 12 – The Pensacola City Council votes 8-1 to create a domestic partnership registry, which will accept signatories in March 2014.