TWISler Breakdown: The Harvey Milk Festival gets TWISted

Published May 17, 2011

(Photo: sarasota.patch.com)

TWISler Breakdown: The Harvey Milk Festival gets TWISted

Harvey Milk Festival Art Opening: 7-10 p.m. Fri., May 20, The Red Panty Press, 513 Central Ave., free; 2nd Annual Harvey Milk Festival: 2-10 p.m. Sat., May 21, Rosemary District, 1376 5th St., donations accepted with a portion of proceeds benefiting ALSO Out Youth, harveymilkfestival.com.

As the TWISler pointed out in statistical fashion back in February, Sarasota is a pretty gay place. No joke, the federal government actually ranks cities on their level of fabulousness in a nifty census study ambiguously called The Gay Index. And last time we checked, our population was about 61 percent gayer than the national average.

I mean when you think about it, Sarasota’s actually known for some of the most flamboyant characters in the modern American psyche. Our biggest claim to fame in the YouTube world has to be SNN meteorologist Justin Mosley’s “Cockroach VS. Weatherman” video, which is clocking in at just north of a billion page views now. (When are you going on Tosh.0, Justin?!) Then there was local heartthrob Jason Champion on HGTV’s Design Star, who stands in the top echelon of most flaming contestants to ever grace the show.

And how could we forget our very own asexual posterboy Mr. Paul “Pee-Wee Herman” Reubens, who invited us into his Playhouse each week to hang out with his black cowboy buddy and get groped by his furniture. Herman of course went on to enter the Kinky Kicks Hall of Fame after getting busted playing patty-cake with his right-hand-man “Wee-Wee” in a North Trail movie theatre.

It seems that over the course of our collective cultural evolution, we’ve managed to desegregate the gay and straight social scenes so much that they’ve now melded together as one colorfully creative contemporary community. Although, you wouldn’t really notice it from just hanging out around town. We’ve actually become so accustomed to our comfy cozy co-sex coexistence that local businesses catering to specifically gay crowds usually tend to fold before their customers can even slurp down their first cocktails. While this acceptance is mostly seen as a good thing, it definitely limits the available options for friskier same-sexers looking to get way out and all about.

But there’s sure to be something for every stripe, color, shape and combo at the 2nd Annual Harvey Milk Festival, which will be raising hell and awareness in the heart of the Rosemary District throughout the day Saturday. After an art exhibit opening at The Red Panty Press Friday night, all will gather at 2 p.m. upon the morn to hear freshly elected city commissioner Paul Caraguilo deliver the commencement for the opening ceremony.

Red Panty Press’s “Muscone Stage” will showcase seven local acoustic talents, while the “Main Stage” across the street blows the roof off… well, the sky I guess, with 13 local and national acts properly melting faces throughout the day and culminating with headliner Ha Ha Tonka, who have been blowing up since their new album “Death of Decade” reached the top 5 on Amazon.com and Billboard charts.

Although the topic of immigration policy usually invokes jean shorts and mustaches of a different sort, that’s actually the reason HMF founder Shannon Fortner created the event. Due to the piss-poorly written U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act standing as the current law of the land, Fortner’s British girlfriend is allowed stay in the States no longer than 90 days at a time. That’s why Equality Florida has offered to assist her and the HMF crew at this year’s event in helping Out for Immigration support the Uniting American Families Act. So make sure to sign a few signatures, when you can find a break from dancing and making out in the streets.

Leave a Reply