MR. FORT LAUDERDALE TALKS ABOUT FEELING SAFE IN OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY!
TRIMMER Magazine sat down with Walter Johnson, aka “Vegas” and talked about how he became Mister Fort Lauderdale and what that title and his mission means to him. Vegas feels that among the gay community, we treat each other so badly and it is time to change.
Originally hailing from Brooklyn, Vegas recently moved here to South Florida. He’s new to Wilton Manors, and he says he’s loving living here. However, he recently experienced a nightmare in the early evening hours in the parking lot at the Publix at Five-Points Plaza. Originally hailing from Brooklyn, Vegas recently moved here to South Florida. He’s new to Wilton Manors, and he says he’s loving living here. However, he recently experienced a nightmare in the early evening hours in the parking lot at the Publix at Five-Points Plaza.
Vegas was attacked by a large man who grabbed him while he was bending over into his car putting away his groceries. The assailant tried to pull down his pants and shove him into the car, possibly to rape him. A woman, who was nearby, screamed as Vegas tried to get across his car and out the other door. He ran over to the woman as the assailant ran off. The Publix staff was very quick to call the police and Vegas provided a good description, However, according to Vegas, he has still not yet been apprehended.
When Vegas first moved to Fort Lauderdale, he was approached to participate in the Mister Fort Lauderdale pageant at a pool party to support The Poverello Food Bank where he was voted for and won! Since, he’s been working within the local community to help make it safer for us all in a number of ways.
We’ve all seen it. We may have even participated in it. But Vegas says he sees it all the time when he goes out. There’s the “Mean Girls” who always have something nasty to say about someone who walks into the room. Then there’s the bitter guy who sits at the bar hating on everyone. And then there are the gropers and the guys who don’t know about “personal space.” He says, “We need to be helping each other rather than tearing each other apart.” Bullying of any kind should not be tolerated. He goes on to say, “We have enough bullying from others who don’t accept us, we don’t need to do it to each other.”
After a few other stories about how guys have come up to him while he was using the urinal and grabbed him, or blatantly being rude and asking “How much?” because he was wearing a T-shirt with a provocative slogan, Vegas said, “It’s time to start treating each other better and show each other some respect!”
Since winning Mister Fort Lauderdale, Vegas has made it his mission to attend events and speaking engagements where he can talk to others about the security and safety of our residents, as well as to help bring to light the problem of bullying and sexual harassment from gays against gays. He has also been contacted to do some modeling, which he loves!
At the young age of 26, Vegas is already a successful business owner. He runs his own construction company and has also done some bartending, but Vegas says his true calling is to help others.
“I’m going back to school to become a paramedic, because I love helping people, but I’d also love to be a successful model,” Vegas says.
He’s excited about some upcoming opportunities that have recently been presented to him since winning the Mister Fort Lauderdale pageant, like an opportunity to model for Diesel, but more importantly, he’s excited to represent this great city with a platform to spread an important message to all of us in the LGBT community… “To treat each other with respect!”Mister Fort Lauderdale pageant, like an opportunity to model for Diesel, but more importantly, he’s excited to represent this great city with a platform to spread an important message to all of us in the LGBT community… “To treat each other with respect!”
“My mission is to bring awareness about the problem of gays being harassed by other gays in the bars and even on the streets. We have enough problems. Ass grabbing, groping and sexual harassment in our community is not okay,” he said.
He goes on to say, “Sugar boys taking advantage of their ‘daddies’ and even their ‘dads’ using them and treating these boys like crap, making them feel like they have no other options, is not alright.” But what can someone do when they‘re in this kind of situation? A lot of young people consider suicide or may turn to drugs and alcohol for help.
Vegas wants you to know there is help. You can reach out to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
Due to the recent terror threats on Wilton Manors Pride events by a member of the gay community, the Wilton Manors Police Department and Broward County Sheriff’s Dept. have both stepped up and provided more security for events, as well as done more to patrol and to curb speeding in the Wilton Manors area on a daily basis. Oakland Park resident Irv Scott says, “I feel secure when I go there on a daily basis and I have seen an increased presence of police patrols in the area.”
“If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone,” Vegas says. So never leave your valuables in your car, always be aware of your surroundings, and remember, your safety is more important than stuff!