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Fort Lauderdale, and the neighboring towns of Wilton Manors and Oakland Park have been top locations for LBGT people to move to, invest in, play and work for decades.
I was one of the first Realtors in the greater Fort Lauderdale area to market directly to LGBT people in metropolitan cities around the country who were attracted to Fort Lauderdale, using the Internet in it's early days.
While the Fort Lauderdale area has been known for being gay friendly since the 50's, what that meant then is light years away from what it means today. The Marlin Beach Hotel in the 1960's and 70's was a gay friendly hotel that attracted gay people. It was the epicenter of Gay Fort Lauderdale. Later there were bars like the Copa, near the airport, that was a gay nightlife scene. Later on, Wilton Manors started to change from a blue collar town to one that attracted gay people for its low real estate values relative to Fort Lauderdale. A bar called Georgies Alibi opened in a strip center there; a bold move and a sign of progress when it opened. Daylight flooded through the windows. It was more "open" than any area gay bar before.
Today, "gay friendly" means so much more in Fort Lauderdale. It's not just gay bars or clubs that are welcoming, but the entire region of South Florida that welcomes gay, lesbian and transgender people in the true sense of welcome.
For three decades I have worked with GLBT buyers who have relocated here, usually leaving a major city that drew them for work, to live here, drawn by a desire to live free of discrimination. There is a huge GLBT population in South Florida today, and growing every day. No longer is a gay friendly bar scene the place where LGBT people can feel comfortable. GLBT feel comfortable anywhere in Broward, Dade and Palm Beach County today.