I don't know that you would expect that I -- a West Coast livin', solidly librul, garage punk lovin' heathen -- would consider the state of Florida something of an adopted second home. But I really kinda do. For all its faults, political, racial, religional, and hurricanical, it still remains a state that has some of the loveliest places to hang out in the nation, and some amazingly cool people. I've made some wonderful friends from all over the state, from the Greater Miami area to Gainesville to Sarasota, who have more than impressed me with their warmth, humor, hospitality, talents, and commitment to create and support alternative arts and progressive thought. Here in Seattle, I am spoiled. There are a prillion clubs and theaters that feature the kind of music and art that I like, and Dems generally rule the day. In Florida, it is wildly the opposite. But that doesn't mean that Florida is a done deal or that Reverend Governor Cletus Standyerground is always going to have the last word. It's important that the rest of the nation notices and applauds efforts in Florida to increase tolerance and understanding under the heavy weight of a population whose most-familiar face often seems to give little value to either concept.

So, with that in mind, I am very glad to tell you about the 3rd Annual Harvey Milk Festival coming up this weekend (May 10-12, 2012) in Sarasota, Florida. From their site: 
The 3rd Annual Harvey Milk Festival (HMF) will take place in Five Points Park, located in the historic downtown district of Sarasota, Florida from May 10th-12th, 2012. The festival’s mission is to promote emerging artists in music, art, and film, raising awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) equality.
Admission is free.
HMF is held in honor of the late Harvey Milk, an American equal rights activist and politician who became the first openly gay man to be elected to a public office.
Founder and HMF Board President Shannon Fortner believes this year’s lineup will continue the tradition of celebrating artists who foster equality, earning the festival a national reputation for discovering new talent.
The 2012 HMF headliner is Breton. Hailing from the UK, Breton is comprised of filmmakers and musicians who create edgy cinematic live performances to compliment its dubstep/electro-house sound. The Guardian tagged Breton as ‘the multimedia Massive Attack.’ In March 2012, the band’s debut album ‘Other People’s Problems’ debuted in the top 5 the Amazon UK charts. The US album release was April 3rd.
Co-headliners include Minneapolis minimal synth-pop trio CLAPS and Sarasota locals MeteorEYES.
Other musicians scheduled to appear include The August Name, The Pauses, The Sexual Side Effects, Cassolette, HenryHenryHenry!, Elysian Sex Drive, The Northwest, The Send Offs, and (the) Umbrella Cult.
At the opening ceremony, Artist John Baden of San Francisco, California will present a special paint on wood art piece to the festival and the city. Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell and Sarasota City Commissioner Carolyn Mason plan to attend, reading the city’s proclamation.
The official after party for the music portion of the festival will be held at Throb Nightclub. The special guest performer will be DiDa Ritz from RuPaul’s Drag Race. The five-dollar cover will be donated to the festival for any attendee wearing an official HMF bracelet.
On May 10th, HMF will host a screening of the music documentary Hit So Hard: The Life and Near Death Story of Patty Schemel at the Selby Public Library. The film, which includes never-before-seen footage of Kurt Cobain, depicts the gripping true-life story of Hole drummer Patty Schemel’s battle with drug addiction at the height of the band’s fame. A reception for the film will take place at The Ivory Lounge following the screening.
On May 11th, ‘The Silent T’ Art Opening will be held at The Ivory Lounge, presenting work from local and national artists on the theme of equality. The band Sons of Hippies is set to perform.  

If you are anywhere near the beautiful Sarasota area this weekend, or even if you'd like to take a last-minute sun-and-fun vacation (Sarasota has THE best beaches in the USA, you know), I encourage you to attend HMF 2012 and enjoy some great bands, films, art, and good company. Even if you cannot be there, you can spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, bid on this awesome Vox guitar and Fender G-Dec amp, and SUPPORT the Festival's sponsors, which include Seattle's own Starbucks.

What does "stand your ground" really mean? People refusing to lie down and be shamed, bullied, intimidated, and harassed by those people who use the legal system and false morality to build a world on the shaky, hopeless foundations of fear, ignorance, and blind hatred. To celebrate the best in people through art, to fight the good fight and honor a good man...these are good, good things.