Boycott Florida!

Yeah, I know, easy for me to say, since I've never been and am now, since November, 2000, in no hurry to go, but there's another reason.

[Tim] McCarron and his supporters, members of the AIDS activist group ACT UP, are calling for a gay and tourism boycott of the Sunshine State. Florida, they say, is in a "state of denial." It has the third-highest rate of AIDS infection in the country, and Miami has more reported cases than the entire states of Georgia, Maryland or Massachusetts.

Despite these figures, Florida recently cut $10 million from programs including Medicaid's Project AIDS Care Waiver Program, which supported people homebound with the disease. After the cuts, many were left without housekeepers, cooks or caregivers who used to help them to the bathroom.

At the same time, the state continues to be a mecca for gay and lesbian tourists, who account for 10 percent of the nation's $540 billion tourist industry. Ads from Miami-Dade and Broward counties run in gay magazines. In Broward, gay and lesbian travel accounts for an estimated $570 million of the county's $25 billion travel industry.

"The paradox is that so much money is being generated by tourism, but all this money left in the state doesn't benefit those people who are in need," says McCarron, who is gay. "The government says we can't afford to take care of these people. But they can afford to appropriate $20 million for a TV ad when there's no money in the budget."