Project Sarasota: LGBTQ History


Florida Governor Reubin Askew signs bill to ban gays from marriage and adopting children in Florida.

Democrats become the first major political party to endorse a homosexual rights platform

Florida Amendment 2 passes which defines marriage as "a union only between one man and one woman".

The Venice City Council unanimously passes nondiscrimination protections, including protections for LGBT individuals.

Then Governor Farris Bryant selected Sarasota to host an eight-county education forum on "homosexual criminals".

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In One, Inc. v. Olesen, the U S Supreme Court rules in favor of the First Amendment rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) magazine.

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“The Purple Pamphlet” was published by the FL Investigative Committee with intent to persuade the state legislature to adopt anti-homosexual laws.

JAN 1958
MAR 1962

Local package alcohol store, "Dixie Lee's", includes anti-gay sentiments in advertisements in the Sarasota News.

MAY 1962

Charlie's Newsstand in Sarasota was fined $200 for "selling and possessing obscene literature" which contained themes of "homosexuality".

DEC 1962
JAN 1964
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Bob Damron publishes his first book of gay bars from his travels throughout the United States. The "Bob Damron Address Book" fit in the palm of a hand.

DEC 1964

The Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village, was raided by police. These riots were pivotal in reigniting America's modern LGBT rights movement.

JUN 1969

Homosexuality removed from the American Psychiatric Association's list of mental illnesses.

DEC 1973
JUN 1977
JUL 1980

ALSO for Gay Youth Inc. was incorporated as a local nonprofit organization in Sarasota County in response to the high rates of suicide by gay and lesbian teens.

APR 1998

Sarasota realtor, Donald Geikie, founds the Gay Real Estate Executive Network (GREEN). Membership includes professionals throughout the real estate industry.

MAR 2005
NOV 2008
MAR 2012

FL Governor and A.G. drop fight to ban Frank Martin Gill and his partner from adopting their foster children effectively ending the ban on same-sex adoption.

SEP 2010

Founded by Robert Donaldson, the Purple Rhino Lodge, a membership-based gay bar, opens.

NOV 2013
AUG 2014

A U.S. District Court finds a FL law banning same-sex marriage and blocking recognition of same-sex marriages is a violation of the 14th Amendment.

City of Sarasota passes amendment to include transgender protections to human rights ordinance when it comes to public accommodations, housing and employment.

NOV 2014
JUN 2015

Marriage equality becomes the law of the land! The U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in all 50 states.

A bill passed the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate repealed a 1868 ban on cohabitation between unmarried couples.

MAR 2016

The Bradenton City Council passed a resolution to congratulate singer Anita Bryant in her campaign against homosexuality.

JUN 1977
2015 City of Sarasota referendum to include Transgender and gender inclusive as protected community under non discrimination act.
2009 Asolo OUT night begins
2008 PRIDE By the Bay at
Van Wezel over 11,000 attending
 2005 GREEN Gay Real Estate Executive Network founded by Donald Geikie, still functioning.

Ken Shelin first elected openly gay City Commissioner for Sarasota.

APR 2005
2004 Tom Murray began producing LGBTQ+Documentaries.

2003 Chick Happy Hour Sarasota founded by Michael Sue Scott

1970s Glen Oaks Manor community established in Sarasota.

1976 Sand Box Nokomis gay bar.
1968-73 Kork & Kettle South Trail gay and lesbian bar owned by Joan Grabill and Jean Walsh.
Featuring drag queens and kings from around the state as well as go- go boys. There was a double door entry system for the safety of the patrons since this was pre stonewall and they had previously had someone shooting a gun into the bar, mafia threats, and other forms of homophobia.

Late 1970s Metro Church opened Gay chapter at the Waffle Stop.

Late 1980s Xtremis gay nights Tuesday and Thursday 80’s disco.

1981 Gayla organization held dinner parties.

2004 Ellen Dinner, women’s dinner different restaurants in town, Founded by Karen Murray-Parker ran for 14 years

2000-2003 City of Sarasota referendum to include LGBTQ+ as protected community under non discrimination act.

1999 Sarasota Pride Fest at Robarts Arena

1998 Bumpers Across from McCurdy’s had balcony and 90’s dance music.
1996 Jim Ferry creates “Fairy Things To Do” newsletter.
1995 Gay Saturday Breakfasts, group still meeting.

1994 First ALSO Youth Fundraiser Brunch at Ophelia’s.

1994 Witness Cafe and Bar corner of 41 across from Barnacle Bill’s (Great DJ Sinna G and drag shows.)
1993 Romeo, Retired Old Men Eating Out, Tuesday nights at local restaurants, still functioning.

1993 Romeo, Retired Old Men Eating Out, Tuesday nights at local restaurants, still functioning.

1992 ALSO Youth Founded by Betsey Nelson (originally Alliance for Learning Sexual Orientation)

1992 A League of Our Own Bowling league founded by Greg Creech, funds were raised to provide money for funerals for people who died from AIDS.

1978 Gay bookstore in Coral Cove name unknown.

1985 Roosters Siesta Key bar hosted T-dances and themed parties, would bring sand inside for “indoor beach” with beach chairs and netting for beach ball games.

1985 Peoples near airport on 41 in the Primo’s restaurant

1986 Stingers, where the Selby library is now, a fun dance bar, straight owned by John Stingline.

1985 Peoples near airport on 41 in the Primo’s restaurant

1985 DuBois Family Reunion Mayaka State Park Saturday monthly event ran for 18 years started with 65 and grew to over 600 attendees. Founded by Lana Bruce.

1986 Mel’s Place/ JJ’s/ OP/Rowdy’s/Triangle MLK dive bar with drag shows near Ringling College of Art and Design.

1985 UpperDeck gay bar/cabaret lower Main Street.

1986 Nexus dinner parties to meet other LGBTQ+ people ran for 4 years

1986 Gallespie’s Hillview and 41’ area.

1990s My Back Yard, an outside social LGBTQ+ space.
1986 Tracks dance club on North Trail
1989 gay bar at the airport location owned by Jeff Post operated for a short while, name unknown.

1986 Celebrities/ Upperdeck Bar second floor above Two Senoritas, clean, ambiance.

1987 St. Martha’s Church Dinners for PWAs or People With AIDS. Hosted by Donald Geikie and Bill Burgunder. Dinners were served Monday nights with cloth napkins, tablecloths and fresh flowers on each table.