Best of Florida – PEOPLE
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Best Local Hero: Father Bill Collins
Father Bill Collins
Father Bill Collins is the outspoken Jesuit priest who founded the Poverello Center and has become one of the LGBT community’s most beloved individuals. In the early ’80s, before there was an actual name for what we now know as HIV/AIDS, Collins, a priest at St. Coleman’s Catholic Church, would visit the hospitals and see people dying from some unknown disease. He found out that the patients who were fortunate enough to go home to live out their lives no longer had an income.
Collins then decided to cash in his pension and purchase food for those who were home and suffering and could not afford to go shop for food. At that time, the Poverello Food Bank was run out of the trunk of Collins’ car as he made his weekly deliveries. When the pension was all spent, he then took a second job teaching at then Broward Community College and used his salary from teaching and the church to purchase more groceries.
Some people in the community found out what Collins had been doing and opened a thrift store, first located in Pompano Beach, to help support Collins in his endeavor to feed those who were stricken with HIV/AIDS. Poverello continued to grow and 25 years later, the Poverello Center has more than 4,000 clients. Since he began Poverello, the center has assisted more than 12,000 and has more than 135 volunteers. Collins, 79, still shows up for work every day.
Best local LGBT sports team: Sidelines Cyclones
Sidelines Sport's Bar
Sidelines Sports Bar sponsors a number of sports teams throughout the year. The most incredible team they sponsor is the Sidelines Cyclones, which started shortly after Sidelines opened. The Cyclones have won numerous championships in their class and have brought the trophy home to Sidelines many times.
Best female impersonator: Misty Eyez
Misty Eyez has gone from “just another drag face” to a much-admired community sensation in less than 10 years. She did this through self-promotion and by becoming one of the community’s biggest supporters.
Each year she performs hundreds of hours, pro bono, supporting almost any charity or fundraiser that asks her to help out — and many times they don’t have to ask as she usually asks them first if they need her assistance. It’s hard to find an important community event where Misty isn’t present. She is also the creator of the popular Trannie Palace on Sunday nights at Bill’s Filling Station on Wilton Drive. Misty has become a mentor to aspiring new talent and has a daily blog on YouTube called Misty Minutes, where she gives tips on everything from dating to applying mascara.
Best tattoo on an LGBT person: Mikey Verdugo
Mikey Verdugo might not have gotten his job back as a police officer with the Hollywood, Florida Police Department, but his tattoos are the admiration of the LGBT community. Vedugo’s elaborate arm tattoos run from just above the elbows to his shoulders and must have been a tattoo artist’s dream work — not to mention, a real money-maker.
Before being recognized for this great tattoos, Verdugo appeared in 2008 on the HGTV reality show, “Design Star” in which the first prize would have been his own television show. While appearing on the 2008 show, he was recognized as having appeared in the 1996 gay porn film “Rope Rituals.” The Hollywood Police Department released Verdugo of his duties and since then he has become a symbol of anti-gay hiring practices and a staunch supporter of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a proposed bill in the United States Congress that would prohibit discrimination against employees on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Best celebrity meltdown of 2010: Mel Gibson
After what has been referred to as “the rant heard ‘round the world,” Mel Gibson’s career may be fluttering. In January, his film “Edge of Darkness” only brought in half of its $80 million budget. Time will tell if he can still bring in money when his next film, “Beaver,” opens in February 2011.
In the film Gibson plays a depressed toy manufacturer who begins to communicate solely through a puppet in an attempt to learn how to relate better with his wife and kids. Perhaps Gibson should have started playing with toys earlier, especially before his alleged hateful rant last July to his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva, who is also the mother of his young daughter. In this conversation, which was recorded and “somehow” leaked to the press, it is contended that Gibson threatened Grigorieva’s life while throwing around the “f-word” and repeatedly calling her the “c-word.”
In some of the more recent recordings, Gibson’s statements could be considered racist, sexist, anti-Latino and anti-Semitic. In his defense, Gibson’s ex-wife, Robyn Gibson, has filed a court statement declaring that she never experienced any abuse from Gibson while forensic experts have questioned the validity of the recordings.
This was not Gibson’s first run-in with a tape recorder. In 1991 he was first accused of making anti-gay remarks in an interview with a Spanish newspaper. Gibson’s 2004 film “The Passion of the Christ” sparked a debate over alleged anti-semitic imagery and overtones.
Sexiest online profile of a local LGBT person:Mauricio Garcia
Mauricio Garcia has been chosen for having the sexiest online profile. This hot 32-year-old hails from New Jersey and currently lives in Fort Lauderdale and has lived in Florida for more than 21 years. His entire family is also down here and he enjoys spending time with his family and friends. Having a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Services, he has owned his own IT company for the past seven years. His business interests keep him traveling a lot as his business spans from Palm Beach to Miami. He likes to travel in his spare time, which he has done all over the United States and South America. His travel goals are to visit Europe and he is particularly looking forward to visiting Italy and Spain.
Best Facebook quote: Karen Walker (Will & Grace)
The television show “Will and Grace” may be long gone, but the spirit of one of its lead characters, Karen Walker, lives on — at least on Facebook. With quotes like “Honey I’d suck the alcohol out of a deodorant stick,” or “Honey if you’re not served in a frosted glass, never come 10 feet from these lips,” Karen will be with us for a long time to come.
Least favorite right-wing celebrity: Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin crashed into the pop culture and political scenes in July 2008 as Sen. John McCain’s vice presidential running mate. Palin has become the person people love to hate, and for many good reasons. First, she can’t keep her stories straight. For instance, she’s not a feminist one week and is a feminist the next. She quit the Alaskan governorship to prove that she’s not a quitter. She can’t name any periodical she reads and couldn’t tell anyone what the Bush Doctrine was. Regardless, she has proven herself to be a major political force in this country, even spawning other Palin-like political candidates like Christine O’Donnell and Sharron Angle.
If nothing else, she has helped to put women on a higher political pedestal and some conservative candidates seek her endorsement. “The success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women in this country,” said comedian and Sarah Palin impersonator Tina Fey, who recently received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.