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Open letter from Sizzle Miami founder & president: 'Our mission, our work, our people'

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Open letter from Dwight Powell, CEO / Founder and Owner, Sizzle Miami:

Following an extremely interesting week here in Miami at the Sizzle Miami office responding to emails, Facebook posts and re-postings, some of our supporters and other individuals posed a few interesting but important questions and statements that only I can answer. While most of you appreciated the time and energy I took over the past few days personally responding, there were some that also took exception. Sizzle and Dwight Powell are far too big to be bothered with these issues I heard. Why doesn't he get a PR company or someone else (lower) to comment on these issues some continued, but I digress. I, yes I Dwight Powell, CEO of Sizzle Miami, have decided to again answer a few comments, questions, and concerns posed from my last post. Hopefully, this should be the last time you here from me for a while.... On these issues at least.

IS SIZZLE MIAMI A BLACK GAY PRIDE EVENT?

As an avid supporter of various pride events nationally, we must inform you that Sizzle Miami is not a pride, a community-based organization, or out-reach service provider. We are however a For-Profit entity incorporated in the State of Florida whose primary goal is to remain in business, be profitable, while supporting community initiatives.

SIZZLE HIV/AIDS OUTREACH INITIAVIES AT THE EVENT

Here at Sizzle Miami our core mission is to dynamically plan and execute exciting events, negotiate hotel deals and other contracts for our events. From our experience, we know our strengths and weaknesses. Over the past 7 years, Sizzle Miami has utilized the services of Empower U Inc., South Florida's not-for-profit 501(c)(3) minority, peer-based and managed organization who provides care, support and other services to people living with HIV/AIDS. Support is also provided by The Florida Department of Health and in recent years from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) most notably this year's Testing Makes Us Stronger Initiative. All working together, we have the perfect combination addressing social service needs and other initiatives at Sizzle Miami.

ECONOMIC IMPACT SIZZLE BRINGS TO SOUTH FLORIDA

Supported by both mayors of the City of Miami and Miami Date County, Sizzle Miami in the past decade has proven to have provided and enormous economic impact for all local area businesses including, hotels, restaurants, shopping malls, entertainment facilities, and others entities involved in the tourism and travel industry. Most notably, recognizing the economic impact to the city, The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau lists Sizzle Miami as a vendor thus providing products and services to the event that draws thousands from around the world to the area. No other entity, government or otherwise has had the same impact or successes than Sizzle Miami showcasing and drawing-in as many people of color of this demographic to the State.

SIZZLE MOVING FORWARD

Over the past year, Sizzle Miami has steadily been at work planning the launch of its' newest and most exciting community initiative to date. Hopefully with-in the next 2-3 months, the Sizzle Foundation will come alive. The Foundation, a soon to be non-profit agency will attempt to provide services to all gay and lesbian youth via areas of academics, sports, social services and self-enrichment programs. We are extremely excited about this launch and welcome your support.

WHO MAKES SIZZLE MIAMI POSSIBLE

As we've said before, Sizzle Miami first and foremost is a for-profit entity that also makes available out-reach and service initiatives for the gay and lesbian community. As with most corporations and for-profit businesses, our structure and priority remains to attract, encourage, induce customers and remain in business. From our beginnings many years ago, this has and continues to be our primary mission. It's a normal business relationship we share with our customers; they provide the financing and in turn, we proved the superior services, attention to detail, and top-notch accommodations and events that rivals all other organizations world-wide.

That is what Sizzle Miami is all about. We are a proud member of The Miami-Dade Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. And finally, but most importantly, we are a Special Events gay own business operated by people of color that's always open, ready and available to serve.

ADDRESSING MY MOST RECENT POST/EMAIL

In a recent reply on this issue, I boasted numbers from my event which unfortunately showed the wrong side of me. I so wished that I could take that portion back. It was truly inappropriate especially given the topic I had brought up and drastically shifted the conversation in so many different directions. That's why I say, we live and we learn. All in all this was a teachable moment and experience for all and one that can only be beneficial in the future.

Further, I so wanted to reply to a few comments by some of the readers about us (Event Planners) not owning our own, but because I didn't want to continue with the public post on the issue, I didn't. What those readers did not get from my post is that for the past 10 years, I have been a businessman and owner of a Special Events company. The businesses that they referenced such as nightclubs and event halls ownership are areas I do not wish to partake in.... not at this time in my life at least. The nightclub business is an extremely dirty and ugly operation. I've been there, so I know first-hand. Restaurants like nightclubs are also hit or miss and extremely risky. Finance doesn't have anything as to why I or a few others are not or have not ventured into that area. Only at Sizzle Miami can I walk into a room and have more than 30 department managers from the GM to the valet manager standing and waiting for me to enter, and to be informed about the events planned for my event. Such a thing when I started in 2002 would have been unimaginable. Fortunately, this has been the case for me here in Miami for the past few years.

We became aware of Sizzle Miami's impact from as far back as 2004, and I am happy to say we have never uttered one ugly word about DC or any other event when we began. We simply did our thing and kept it moving. I've always encouraged people to visit DC Pride if only once for the experience. Prior to starting my event, I had an amazing time when I visited that event. Not wanting to present the same experience that DC was offering, I opted to do something different and just offer amazing events and parties. DC and many other cities already offered pride events and I wanted to present something different; an event that also celebrated us as a people while having an amazing, fun filled time.

Below is an article I wrote in our 2005 event guide and is presented word for word. This will give you a clearer reason as to why I started Sizzle.

For years I've attend various circuit events such as the White Party, Hot-Lanta and Winter Party. I remember often asking myself why such upscale events didn't exist in our community. Sizzle was born out of the need to bring together men from all over the country to a relaxing and fun-filled setting. Although many of us have lost loved ones to HIV/AIDS, it is important to remember that our identity is more than the negative stigmas associated with our sexual preference. We must rise up from the ruins, while dancing, and singing to confirm our place among the living.

This year at Sizzle, I want you to experience the time of your life, I want you to yell, shake and scream. I want you to dance. Like my good friend Lewis Nicholson says, I want you to dance like no one is watching. I want you to make new friends and catch up with old acquaintances while leaving all your worries behind.

As we celebrate with the living, it is extremely important that we remember to take great care of one another. At Sizzle, be prepared to meet some of the most attractive men with the sexiest bodies you'll ever encounter. If you must do more than feast your eyes, remember to let "jimmy" be your best friend!

I can't begin to describe the utter joy and excitement I get while putting this event together. Seeing all of you, enjoying yourselves makes this a very gratifying and fulfilling chore. With that said, I sincerely welcome you to Sizzle 2005 where you're encouraged to live, live, live.

Thank you for your time.

Dwight Powell
CEO / Founder and Owner
Sizzle Miami

Here is the original email sent by Powell:

WE ARE ALL GOD'S CHILDREN!

For the 11th year in a row, Miami was again the place to be and be seen this past Memorial Day Weekend. But you already knew that. A local promoter in DC just posted their numbers and incorrectly stated that DC was the event of choice this year. This is actually the first time every replying to such emails, and because I don't want anyone to be misled, I have decided to take these allegations and statements head on.

The 3 promoters in DC (McGregory from Omega Ent., Darly Wilson, and Mario Harris from Wassup N Atl) unfortunately also suggested and stated all year long, that DC will have the "real" men and that Sizzle will have the "ladies". This statement in itself is extremely offensive and one that we would never make here in Miami. We host all men and women of the gay and lesbian community. All colors, sexual orientations, gender.... Simply everyone. One of the things that has made Sizzle Miami great over the years is the fact that we provide an atmosphere where all men and women are comfortable and relaxed without having to be ashamed of what or who they are. THAT IS WHAT SIZZLE MIAMI IS, WHAT WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT, AND WHAT WE WILL CONTINUE TO BE - WE ARE HERE FOR EVERYONE! So the next time you hear a promoter say they have the "real" men or "real" women, please do stop them in their track and remind them that they are speaking about you, your friends, your brothers and sisters, uncles or aunts, cousins, nieces and nephews. Please do not allow this crap to continue. Be proud of who you are, and as ask that promoter do the same.

Here are our numbers compared to the numbers claimed by a promoter in DC and afterwards you do the math. You will agree that Sizzle Miami was again the #1 Choice this past Memorial Day Weekend.

Thursday: Off The Hookah 1,850 (DC Promote - 0)

Friday: Mekka Miami - 6210   (DC Promoter 2700)

Saturday Pool Party - 1750 (DC Promoter 725 on Sunday)

Saturday: SoHo Studios - 5700 (DC Promoter 950 - Not sure where the other 1750 from the night before went)

Sunday: Club Space - 6775 (Between 10pm-10am)   (DC Promoter 2400)

Monday: Bongos - 1550  (DC Promoter - 0)

Sizzle Miami is #1 again for a reason - We welcome and accept everyone as they are. In Miami we want all of you to be yourself. Don't be misled by such horrific language and self-hatred as to what's "real" or not. As the owner of Clik Magazine from way back in since 1998, I have seen us progress and come way to far only to return to the shadows and be ashamed of who and what we are. As I write this tears of passion drops down my cheek as I imaged and hear such ugliness from these types of promoters. ALL I CAN SAY IS BE YOU!

Dwight Powell
Sizzle Miami / Founder and Owner

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