Romance is in the air this month for Valentine’s Day but so is black love. No, it’s not what you think. Besides Valentine’s Day, the month of February holds another significant occasion, and this great purpose is throughout February, not just one day of it – Black History Month.
It never seems to end that the community has to fight for equality. Black History Month is a moment in time where the community gets to collectively breathe, promote and celebrate the great contributions they have provided the world. In tribute to the love that is Blacks Who Rock, we here at Hotspots recognize leaders in our very own community that have personified Black Excellence.
As one of the founding members of the South Florida Chapter for the leather/kink men of color organization Onyx Deep South, Elimination Onyx is an incredible man of strength, love, passion, and grace. Mr. Ramrod 2018 is wholeheartedly dedicated to his communities whether it be the leather community as an engaged celebrated member, a proud gay man in the LGBTQI+ community, or a vocal activist in the minority/POC community. #Enough www.onyxdeepsouth.com
Executive Director and one of the founders of Equality Florida (eqfl), the peninsula’s leading LGBTQI+ advocacy organization, Nadine Smith has been fighting the good fight for LGBTQI+ equality through her organization for over two decades now since it’s conception in 1999. Smith is a force to be reckoned with, she channels her love for our community in a way that brings about justice, peace, and change for all of us who live and visit Florida. Her many accolades would consume the pages of the magazine. But know this, she has our back. www.eqfl.org
Nothing says self-love like that of a proud man who brings harmony and peace to a group of individuals who relish a safe space of acceptance and celebration. Tony Davis brings that cherished place to the urban bear community and their admirers with his annual South Florida fun-filled bear experience. Davis has created something unique and empowering with Heetizm Myami – the celebration is a creation of love, acceptance, pride, and joy – all the things that are the pure essence of Davis himself. www.heetizm.com
Shenika “Nik” Harris
Standing up for equality at every turn is Nik Harris. “Attorney, activist, speaker, and queer melanin magic,” as mentioned on her Facebook, that is Harris. The unafraid to back down, always willing to speak up Harris is the first-ever LGBTQ Consumer Advocate at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. There’s practically nothing in the push for equality here in South Florida that Harris hasn’t lent her voice, mind, body, talent, and advocacy to. As Harris mentioned, “I plan to leave this world better than I found it.”
A ball of energy and life lives within Ederick Johnson that can’t help but explode outward into the hearts of every soul he encounters. Other than his infectious aura that exudes joy and laughter, is his unwavering commitment to the LGBTQI+ community and that of the black community. He’s always everywhere and yet always present in heart, body, and mind – we don’t know how he does it all but he gets it done. He’s the one that makes you come, stay, and enjoy in each setting, moment, and space. It’s no wonder Johnson is called upon to lead in faith, community, and worship.
The headstrong Tatiana Williams has co-founded the South Florida organization Transinclusive Group Inc (TIG). The transgender resource and safe-space nonprofit is the only African-American led trans organization thanks in part to its Executive Director Williams. Along with spearheading TIG, Williams also lends her time to different LGBTQI+ advocacy endeavors throughout South Florida. You can see her speaking on a variety of panels, on the board of directors of other advocacy organizations, and as an organizer or leader of marches, vigils, and community groups. www.transinclusivegroup.org
Known for his urban nightlife events, Donald Gunder has recently taken the nonprofit field by storm as the co-founder and vice president of a newly minted LGBTQI+ organization that is dedicated to the mental health and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment of the black and brown community, South Florida Afro Pride Foundation Inc. The talents that he has acquired as one of the leading event promoters in the area have helped shine a bright spotlight on the budding organization. If the momentum of the not-for-profit proves anything it would be Gunder’s commitment to its success. www.sfloafropridefederation.org
It was a proud moment to see the founder, Brielle Roundtree, of a queer and trans people of color book club, make headlines last year in 2020 with an exclusive write up in one of South Florida’s gay publication. Bridging the Gap opens the eyes of queer and trans youth and adults to invigorating literature of LGBTQI+ nature and experience. It’s not a secret society, however, to maintain the safe-space of the book club, the biweekly discussions are by invitation only. Nonetheless, we couldn’t be anymore prouder to read about the great achievement of her endeavors.
When it comes to the advocacy for black same gender loving men you can find Lorenzo Robertson at the helm of the crusade. As Executive Director of the Ujima Men’s Collective, Robertson has committed his time to the growth, understanding, and spirituality of the black gay man. Empowerment isn’t all that Robertson is made of, the humble married man is also an author, poet, and performance artist. Check out his book Eclectic Essence: Poetry for the Mind, Body, and Spirit online at www.lorenzorobertson.com. www.ujimamen.net
There’s nothing more empowering than a black woman who is on the move to help everyone become a better version of themselves. From #Cop2CEO, the charming Nevaeh Hilton has been in the business of helping people for quite some time now. Other than getting people’s credit on track as her newfound day job passion, the credit fixer Hilton keeps the South Florida Urban Pageantry System afloat with her dedication to the artform – without her, it would be somewhat of a dismal arena. And for that, we can’t thank her enough because those that know, know it’s not easy – it’s hard work both behind the scenes and upfront.
When someone helps to do something never done before in our community that’s worth recognition. And Detroit native Anthony Winn has done just that with the first-ever Black Excellence Stage graciously provided by our 2019 Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade & Street Festival. But his commitment doesn’t just stop there, the powerhouse South Florida club promoter has also led the charge for the first Black LGBTQI+ Rally in Wilton Manors that happened in June of 2020 during the height of race relations in that year. For that, we give Mr. Winn a round of applause. We can’t wait to see what he has instore for 2021.
Velvet Lenore has been a beauty in our community for…. (a diva never tells!). But what can be said about the enchanting Lenore is that her commitment to South Florida’s (including Palm Beach County) LGBTQI+ community has been overwhelmingly abundant. The dancing queen has been bringing us to our feet with applauds for her charismatic stage performances as well as for her ability to give back and form a family unite with individuals here who might otherwise not have that togetherness. It takes a strong woman to build a family and a lasting career on the stage, and Velvet Lenore is just that, a strong enduring woman.
Whether here or there, a form of PJ’s Chit Chat Coffee Shop and Speakeasy has been open to people of color, and frankly everyone in the LGBTQI+ community. PJ Williams’ spot is where our community can congregate and enjoy the cultural aspects of our existence. Sometimes a nice game of spades is on the table, perhaps even a tournament. It gives us a good feeling to know that there’s a dwelling in which we can feel safe, comfortable, and respected. Thanks to Williams for providing us that space we need and enjoy.
FB: PJ’s Chit Chat Coffee Shop and Speakeasy
The love that our community has for Tiffany Fantasia solidifies her as one of our top diva performers throughout South Florida. Her star power radiates so brightly that she has made her way into broadcast television programs like “Watch What’s Happening Live with Andy Cohen.” But that doesn’t stop the queen of the stage from staying humble and true to her community. Fantasia has been known to give her time and energy to great causes that extend to the black community. She’s a true gem that we cherish immensely.
We would say that this pleasant gent is a newcomer dancing his way onto the stage with the big-timers but then that just wouldn’t be accurate. Kishi Martin has found his footing in our community and serves us well as the ever-so inviting peer navigator at the comprehensive health and support service nonprofit Care Resource. When the joyous Martin isn’t wearing his many advocacy hats (Youth Advisory Board, Unity Coalition, MSM Advisory Group, and the list goes on), you can find him busting a groove on his social media stories – the man likes to get down.