by Fred Kuhr
When Wilton Manors, Fla.-based South Florida Gay News announced its choice for 2016 Person of the Year, publisher Norm Kent knew it would be controversial. In fact, he prefaced the choice’s announcement in the newspaper by writing, “Whether it was the Pope or Tim Cook, the choices have not been easy.”
Then came the name — Peter Thiel.
|SFGN Person of the Year Peter Thiel
“He is more than a guy whose startup was PayPal,” wrote Kent. “Thiel is a gentleman whose contributions to technology, entrepreneurship and finance have cemented his stature as a world global leader, recognized by the World Economic Forum and Business Week, amongst a host of other foundations. But this ‘proud gay man’ has been ignored and isolated by the national gay media, probably because he has been an open, out-proud member of the GOP.”
But some readers were none too pleased.
Under a headline, “Readers blast SFGN over Person of the Year pick,” the newspaper printed long responses blasting Kent and SFGN. Subheads above the letters included, “Peter Thiel is a gay Uncle Tom,” “This is treason,” and “Norm Kent is a traitor.”
“This is your magazine and you have the right to honor whoever you want but nevertheless, you have honored a man who helped to elect Donald Trump and countless other Republicans across the country at every level of government,” wrote reader Chris Gardner. “Thiel supports the same man who is supported by anti-Semites, the KKK, and other white supremacy groups. By supporting a Republican, any Republican, you are committing treason against your community here in South Florida and against our LGBT tribe of people everywhere.”
Reader Stewart Lowery wrote, “To you, Mr. Kent, I say shame on you and the SFGN for attempting to normalize people and events by celebrating a gay man who has taken his billions of dollars and decided he wanted to sit at the table with such awful, and yes Hillary, deplorable people who are attempting to make this country a miserable place for many of our friends and family members. I say it again, this was a shameful selection for Person of the Year and I am a totally appalled at the supposed logic behind it. I will now be more likely to pass by the copies laying out for me to pick up and take into my home.”
Added another reader: “I will not be picking [SFGN] up — and in the event I happen to see a business advertising in it, I will avoid them. I hope the [local] bars and restaurants … hit you in the wallet for this traitorous act.”
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