Stonewall Happened in 1969. Webster Schott, a Straight Ally, Was Writing About Gay Rights Years Before.

“The right to have sex without state intrusion must inevitably be confirmed and codified by the Court.”

In 2018, the statement isn’t groundbreaking. But the writer, Webster Schott, is 90 years old and he wrote those words in November 1967 for The New York Times. The legendary Stonewall Riots wouldn’t happen until almost two years later in June 1969.

“They were people who were looked down upon because of their sexual preference and the truth is most people have almost no control over their sexual preference,” Schott told SFGN. “You’re born that way. It’s genetic.”

And it wasn’t just one piece. In Schott’s nearly 50 years as a freelance journalist, his byline can be found in Life, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Sun-Times, and more. By day, he was a business executive at greeting card companies like Hallmark Cards, American Greetings and Gibson Greeting Cards. When he got home, he would take out his typewriter and work on his articles.

“I loved my wife and I love my children, but I did stay up and write at odd hours and in odd places, taking my typewriter to vacations in North Carolina and to Cape Hatteras and to Massachusetts and to New Mexico and California and all of that,” Schott said. “Wherever I went at that time, my typewriter went along.”

His first published piece was when he was 14. He studied journalism at the University of Missouri, where he became the first member of his family to get a college degree in 1948. It was a far cry from his upbringing during the Great Depression–one year, his father only made $400.

For The New York Times, Schott was first assigned to review fiction written by gay people, including Mexican-American writer John Rechy. Schott was already interested in writing about gay people from his experience working in the psychology lab in college and seeing how they were treated in society.

In a 1986 tribute to the late gay writer Christopher Isherwood, Schott wrote “What he showed us was that being homosexual also means feeling everything. It was something we needed to know.”

In his writing, Schott criticized the U.S. for its laws regarding sexual expression being fit for “Mayflower Pilgrims,” highlighted the gay press, noted a source who said homosexual relationships have more longevity than heterosexual ones, and investigated what experts believe is the cause of homosexuality–including one who says it’s not a mental illness.

“I guess my fundamental sympathies in life are with people who are either ignored, badly treated, or plotted against. I’m kind of organically sympathetic to people who are different,” he said. “We’re generally moving over a long period of time toward greater understanding of the importance of individual freedom and individual self expression.”

However, not everyone thought the way that Schott did, which motivated him to cover the equality and civil rights movements. Almost always, he said, he wrote for progressive papers, including The Nation and the New Republic.

“Society as a whole moved in what I consider to be a right direction,” he said. “Our present situation, of course, is a pause in that inevitable movement, I think, toward greater freedom. But it’s an alarming pause, from my point of view. I’m 90 years old and I really look forward to living long enough to see Donald Trump thrown out of office.”

When asked if he thought his reporting was groundbreaking for the time, he quickly replied, no. Instead, Schott gives the credit to the editors and those who gave him the assignments for recognizing that the stories he wrote were worth telling.

“I was extremely fortunate, very lucky, to be able to write what I wrote and I think I wrote about the right things at the right time,” he said. “I think I was part of much larger forces at work in the world headed for more social justice.”


Originally published in South Florida Gay News


How Tech Became the Hottest Scene in Miami Beach

Miami Beach is known for surf, sand and sun. A new wave of startups and expanding companies want it to be known for something else: tech.

Scan through calendars of events going on in Miami Beach, and there’s no shortage of full moon meditation sessions, film festivals and visiting DJs — and swimwear fashion week will be here before you know it.

But look a little deeper, and there’s a tech boom happening just under the glittering surface of this South Florida city.

Bizagi Catalyst, a digital conference, is scheduled for October. Tech Beach, a Meetup group for STEM entrepreneurs, has more than 3,000 members. And perhaps most exciting for the beach, website builder Wix opened a Miami Beach office on Lincoln Road with a lease through 2025. With the tech scene growing so rapidly, it’s no surprise that Miami Beach made our list of the 10 Best Cities for STEM Workers.

“There is clear momentum that the South Florida region is starting to mature,” said Chris Todd, the president of Airborne Response, a company that uses unmanned aircraft systems like drones to work major incidents. Todd says Miami Beach has been an “ideal location” for the company since it launched in 2016. The systems can be used in disaster response, security, mapping and surveys, training and more. Not only is the weather and airspace favorable, but it’s also perfect conditions for making videos.

Just north of Miami Beach, aptly named North Miami Beach was chosen as the location for the 2018 UAS/Drones for Disaster Response Conference.

Also on the beach is The Venture City, a venture capital fund and startup accelerator with the aim of helping small companies with a dream.

“We invest, nourish, help and take startups to a higher level. We are growth experts,” said Rosa Jiménez-Cano, the chief of ecosystem relations. “Most of our team comes from Silicon Valley companies. We want our methodology to have a worldwide impact through entrepreneurship.”

Laura González-Estéfani, the founder and CEO of The Venture City, worked with Facebook for nine years, which brought her to the Miami area. She fell in love with the scene and its potential for tech companies, she founded her company.

“During her time in Latin America and Miami, she met lots of entrepreneurs. Many of them lacked of access to capital but were brilliant. She felt that she should be doing something to flourish the Miami tech scene and impact some more emerging hubs,” Jiménez-Cano said.

The Venture City currently has offices in San Francisco, Madrid, Sydney, and its Miami Beach headquarters opened on Lincoln Road’s 1111 building. It’s just a five-minute walk from the new Wix headquarters.

“Wix chose Miami Beach in 2014 to better serve our growing customer base, tap into a vibrant technology sector and provide access to language skills that serve our Latin American users,” said Matt Rosenberg, director of PR and communications at Wix. “Miami provides a diverse workforce and we have been able to hire a very talented team as we’ve expanded our presence here and continue to provide customer service and support to our global customer base of more than 130 million users around the world.”

While quality of life, diversity and talent are propelling Miami Beach’s tech renaissance, there are some things holding the area back from realizing its full potential as a major tech hub — most notably: cost.

“Overpriced real estate — both commercial and residential — is an inhibiting factor preventing many startup tech firms from viewing Miami Beach as a viable option for them to plant a stake in the ground,” Todd said.

According to Newmark Knight Frank, which tracks office trends, the average asking price per square foot of rented office space in the Miami area is $34.97, while the national average is $27.68.

To help with costs, shared spaces like the new WeWork space on Lincoln Road helps cut down costs for startups.

Also, as the local tech scene grows, networking events and workshops have been instrumental for small companies. Wix Miami hosts a Wix Workshop once a month, where entrepreneurs can improve their digital skills. At The Venture City, staff hosts free workshops every two weeks. To educate future remote pilots, Airborne Response hosts exam preparation ad post-licensing training for those look to be certified by the Federation Aviation Administration.

“With the technology spotlight increasing on South Florida, now is the time for Miami Beach to circle the wagons and put a plan together to attract new startups and tech companies to come and do business in the city,” Todd said.

Originally published on

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Around the turn of the 20th Century, black people coming to Miami to work on Henry Flagler’s railroad were relegated to live in “Colored Town.” They faced discrimination and the wrath of Jim Crow, yet Overtown grew into a vibrant community  the Harlem of the South. When Miami’s growth encroached on Overtown, the neighborhood lost many of the places that made it shine. Like Clyde Killen’s Pool Hall, where some of the country’s top black artists performed late at night after they played shows in Miami Beach. Clyde Killen’s is being reborn into a restaurant from star chef Marcus Samuelsson. David Beckham plans to put his Major League Soccer stadium in Overtown. And talented Miami couple Jamila Ross and Akino West are about to open their Copper Door Bed & Breakfast nearby. The neighborhood recently hosted BlackTech Week, drawing innovators and entrepreneurs from around the country. Overtown is enjoying a return to its glory days.

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The Next Hot Spots

Everybody knows Flagler Village is developing at warp speed, Wilton Drive is the place to be and Victoria Park is getting harder and harder to get into. But what are the area’s next hot neighborhoods?

When it comes to doing business in Fort Lauderdale, it doesn’t get much better than opening up shop on the water. At Shooters, boaters can come right to the dock, tie up their vessel, and take their pick between eating in the fresh air or inside in a lightly nautical-themed dining room. This Shooters, a grown-up restaurant with wine dinners, live music and community events, is a far cry from the bikini-contest-hosting venue it was for decades (remnants of this history are evident in framed black-and-white photos on the walls).

“We embrace the past, but we’re not that anymore and we’re fine with that,” says Peter Lopez, the director of operations at Shooters. “We’re not the burgers, bikinis, beers of the past. We’ve grown like everybody else.”

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Ron Blake Was Raped in 2015; Now He’s On A Mission to Share His Story and Get on the ‘The Late Show’

It was late on Nov. 2, 2015 when Ron Blake was sitting on his couch in Phoenix, Arizona. “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” had just started, and per usual, he opened the show with a monologue taking jabs at politics and pop culture.

Blake doesn’t remember what it was exactly, but Colbert made a joke during the monologue that had him cracking up with laughter. When he realized he was laughing — something he hadn’t done in a while — he paused the show to take in that moment.

“It’s not the fact that I laughed at that show that saved my life, it’s that I recognized that something was good . . . I went to bed with hope that night.”

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Discovering the Youthful (and Delicious) Side of Boca Raton


Boca Raton is famously known as a retirement community, but the city’s younger residents are carving out a culture of their own.

The words “Boca Raton” tend to instantly evoke images of retirees who spend their winters on the beach and pastel one-bedroom condos. But ask those who actually live in this South Florida city, and they’ll tell you the stereotypes about Boca don’t capture the reality of this multifaceted — and surprisingly youthful — place.

“The culture has evolved in Boca Raton,” said Shaan Dholakia, 33, who has lived in Boca Raton since he was four years old. “There’s a lot of creative people doing creative things, whether it is a hip gastropub or a ramen shop or a Korean BBQ … these were things that were unheard of in Boca Raton.”

When Dholakia and his brother were teenagers a little over a decade ago, they were eager to experience the independence a driver’s license granted them. Budding foodies, they started looking up local restaurants they could try out on their own.

The top search result? Red Lobster.

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The Town That’s the Heart of the South Florida Rodeo Scene

Courtesy Davie Pro Rodeo

Yes, you read that right: the South Florida rodeo scene.

South Florida: it’s a place vacationers flock to every year to bask in the sun from beach towels, watch mega yachts on the Intracoastal, and explore the booming nightlife scene. But just 30 minutes west of those world-famous beaches is an unexpected gem, a place where cowboys throw on their spurs and Stetsons.

It’s the Bergeron Rodeo Grounds in Davie, Florida.

Drawing 30,000 spectators a year, the grounds had its first rodeo in 1946, back when it was known as the Davie Rodeo Arena. For decades it hosted competitions and continued the town’s western tradition. However, in 1978, the rodeo was under threat from an ongoing enemy of the townspeople: development. Undeterred, hundreds of residents rode to a town council meeting on horseback to protest tearing down the arena, and they succeeded.

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Shedding Light on Eating Disorders in the LGBT Community

Eating disorders only affect straight, white, teenage girls.

Well, that’s the stereotype that most people buy into, delaying diagnosis in males, older people, and the LGBT community.

“It’s definitely a misconception,” said Myra Hendley, a program therapist at the Eating Recovery Center of the Carolinas in Greenville, South Carolina.

“That’s not to say that body isn’t a huge part of eating disorder, but it could be anxiety driven or some kind of control mechanism … people don’t just say ‘Oh, I’d like to be skinnier’ and then develop anorexia. There’s something playing into that.”

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8 Surprising Things About Living in Florida

From wildlife to road trips to rodeos, take it from a local: Florida is full of surprises.

As someone who was born in Florida but didn’t return to the Sunshine State until college, I’m an odd hybrid of a Florida native and transplant. Since I returned 14 years ago, I’ve traveled all over the state — from Key West to TampaJacksonvilleOrlando and more — and gotten acquainted with all the unique aspects of this incredibly diverse state.

Most people think of Florida as all white sand beaches and retirement homes. Trust me: this state is so much more than that. Here are some surprising things about Florida that most people don’t know:

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