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South Florida gay journalist Bob Kecskemety dies

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Longtime South Florida gay journalist Bob Kecskemety preferred to write good news about the folks he covered.

“Bob never wrote anything negative about anybody,” said his friend Norm Kent, publisher of South Florida Gay News. “He loved doing things that showcased people in the community, putting a positive spin on nice people.”

Now, Broward County’s gay community is mourning the loss of Kecskemety, a videographer and writer who died of complications from bone and bladder cancer Wednesday night in Hollywood. He was 60.

“He was very generous, just a kind person,” said Kecskemety’s close friend, Tim Yatteau, who met him about nine years ago when they worked together at the old Buzz magazine in Fort Lauderdale. “His passion was reporting and keeping people abreast on issues he thought were important. ... Most people that knew Bob loved him. It’s very rare to find someone so genuine these days.”

Bobby Blair met Kecskemety five years ago.

“He was with me the very first day I got into the publishing business in 2007, which was the summer I took over Buzz magazine,” said Blair, now publisher of Florida Agenda, the last paper where Kecskemety worked. “He was a remarkable, passionate person trying to create news and information that would build up the LGBT community. He was always into finding good causes, and the really good people who were making a difference.”

Born in Cleveland, Kecskemety graduated from Fort Lauderdale High School and attended Broward College. During the 1990s, the former travel agent wrote a social column for Scoop, a onetime South Florida gay magazine.

Later, Kecskemety launched a video website, QueerChannel Network, which also has a channel on YouTube.

“I met Bob at Pridefest in 2008,” said Ryan Dixon, 24, now QueerChannel’s TV host. “He interviewed me. I was kind of shy, quiet. I didn’t know what to say on camera.”

The two became friends and eventually Kecskemety hired Dixon, even though he believed the younger man would bomb on-air.

“He said, ‘Ryan, I didn’t think you’d make a good host. I didn’t think you’d be outgoing. Then you blew me away,’” Dixon recalled Thursday.

Dixon, who contracted HIV while working as porn star Kameron Scott, said Kecskemety helped save his life after his parents in Virginia threw him out.

“My father told me I was going to die of AIDS and burn in Hell. He didn’t want me in the house. That’s when I flew back to Fort Lauderdale and stayed with Bob. I don’t know where I would have been without him. He was literally a life saver.”

Kecskemety bequeathed his company and camera equipment to Dixon, who plans to keep QueerChannel in business.

A memorial service for Kecskemety will be held sometime in mid June at the Pride Center in Wilton Manors. Also, this year’s 13th annual Stonewall Street Festival on June 24 in Wilton Manors will be dedicated to him, said Jason Tamanini, general manager at the Manor Complex and co-chair of the Rainbow Business Coalition.

Kecskemety, who co-founded the Stonewall festival, continued to write until about a month ago, when he entered hospice at Memorial Regional Hospital South.

In January, he documented his own final illness for the Florida Agenda:

“Each year, I write a feature in the last issue of the year for whatever publication I have worked for, getting New Year’s resolutions from people in the community, and though I would have liked to have gotten many more for the last week’s issue of the Agenda than I did, I was too weak to continue,” Kecskemety wrote, still upbeat about the future.

“One person, who I asked for his resolution a week ago, turned the tables on me and asked me what my New Year’s resolution was. I simply replied, ‘2013.’”

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About 4 years ago, I remember the first time I met Bob. It was in the parking lot of the Rising Action Theater - Reverend Phelps was coming wilton manors for a bogus protest. Bob was on hand to record the confrontation that never happened. When I introduced myself, he immediately knew me from being on NPR/WLRN radio, he was so gracious, he loved NPR. After I asked who owned "QueerChannel" he simply replied, "me." It was a one man operation, but he was everywhere, so I just figured he had a half a dozen on staff. But that was Bob: he was everywhere, filming every community event in Wilton Manors. He worked tirelessly on his video company out of pure love for the GLBT community - receiving no money. I worked with him on several video projects over the years and was so happy to work with a great man willing to do good. Rest in peace, Bob, a truly kind hearted man.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nlS7qsjWu8

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