BY STEVE ROTHAUS, firstname.lastname@example.org
Hudson and Niedwiecki, a couple for nearly six years, say their lives changed May 1 when a skycap broadcast an anti-gay Bible message over an airport loudspeaker.
''We heard over the PA system that a man who lies with a man as he would a woman will be subject to death,'' said Niedwiecki, 40, a Nova Southeastern University associate law professor who was returning with Hudson from a trip to Chicago.
''It frightened me,'' said Hudson, 28, a JetBlue flight attendant and personal trainer. ''When someone says you should be put to death at 1 a.m. in a deserted airport, it perks your ears up.'' A contractor quickly fired the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport skycap.
Four months later, Hudson has become one of Broward's most vocal gay activists and Niedwiecki is mulling a 2009 run for Oakland Park city commission. They came forward after Naugle said he wants to stop gay men from having sex in public places, like restrooms.
''The mayor likes to refer to Anthony and me as militant homosexual activists,'' Hudson said. ``I don't like the homosexual part, but I'm not offended by that. When it comes to defending my rights and fighting back from bigotry, I am militant, as we all should be.''
Quite a switch for a man who worked five years as a Walt Disney World performer. Hudson, who grew up in Orlando, majored in musical theater and business at New York University.
In New York, Hudson met Niedwiecki, who was then living in Philadelphia, on Gay Pride Day. ''Bad gay fiction,'' Hudson said. ``That was it. We were just meant to be.''
Niedwiecki grew up outside Detroit. He attended Tulane Law School and earned an advanced degree from Temple University in Philadelphia. He later landed a teaching job at Temple.
Hudson moved to Philadelphia and they lived together there until Niedwiecki got the Nova teaching assignment.
The airport incident turned them into instant local celebrities.
''A woman came up to me [in Publix] and asked if she had seen me on the news,'' Hudson said. ``I said possibly. She looked at me right in the face and said, `You two deserve what that man said to you.'
''The next day I was at the gym,'' Hudson said. 'A large-size note that had `fag' scrawled across it was stuck in my windshield. At that point I started to take side roads going home. It was a weird way to live. A few days later, a woman came up to me and spit in my face in the grocery store, with her 6-year-old son in hand. I said to her, 'What a great lesson to teach your son.' ''
Hudson has taken a leave from JetBlue and turned full-time gay activist.
''It wakes you up -- that even in a modern cosmopolitan community there is hate and we've come a long way, but we have a way to go. We can't be complacent,'' said Hudson, 28, who with Niedwiecki started a gay-rights group called Fight OUT Loud.
''Waymon and Anthony's group does more hate crime and political action stuff,'' said Jeff Black, a founder of another Broward gay-rights group, UNITE Fort Lauderdale, which specializes in ``community service and community building.''
Five weeks after the airport incident, Fight OUT Loud took on its first cause: two 14-year-old Portland, Ore., lesbians kicked off a public bus June 8 for kissing.
''The bus driver called them sickos,'' Niedwiecki said. ``We worked with the mothers, worked with the girls. Waymon had several conversations with the mayor's office.''
In mid-June, the Portland transit department apologized to the girls.
THEN CAME NAUGLE
Then, an incident much closer to home: Naugle said the city should buy a $250,000 self-cleaning, locking toilet to stop men from having sex in public restrooms at the beach.
''The mayor thing happened and that quite honestly consumed our lives,'' Niedwiecki said. ``Fighting bigotry and hate in this city seems to be a full-time job.''
Fight OUT Loud has a mailing list of 2,200 and recently applied for nonprofit tax status. It and other gay groups have held several anti-Naugle rallies in Fort Lauderdale.
Hudson and Niedwiecki give out bumper stickers that read ``Save Fort Lauderdale. Dump Naugle.''
No problem, says the mayor. ``It's free speech.''
Naugle has had several close encounters with Niedwiecki.
''I tried to have a conversation the other night at the meeting,'' Naugle said. ``Anthony was very confrontational. I tried to answer him. He kept interrupting me and I finally gave up.''
Two years ago, Hudson and Niedwiecki became foster parents to Franke Alexandre, a teen born with HIV.
Alexandre had been one of five siblings raised by foster parents Steven Lofton and Roger Croteau, a couple who with Rosie O'Donnell's help unsuccessfully fought Florida's gay adoption ban. (State law doesn't prohibit gay people from being foster parents.)
When the Lofton-Croteau family moved to Oregon, Florida demanded Alexandre return or he'd lose his medical coverage and college assistance.
''I was moving from one friend's house to another,'' recalls Alexandre, who lived with Lofton and Croteau from the age of 8 months. ``The change, the big move, was mentally stressful.''
Niedwiecki is a friend of Alexandre's guardian ad litem. He and Hudson offered to become the teen's new foster family.
''I was accepted into Anthony and Waymon's household,'' Alexandre said. ``My grades got better, more A's and B's than C's and D's. I was just beginning to get back on my feet. I would never have done it without them. They did whatever they could to help me get through school successfully and find the right college.''
Alexandre, 19, now lives on Florida's west coast and attends St. Petersburg College.
''I couldn't have learned a lot of lessons if I hadn't been living with Anthony and Waymon,'' he said. ``I love them dearly. They are family as much to me as I am family to them. A good couple of guys.''