and the winners are....
Favorite Non-profit Organization: ALSO Youth
Favorite LGBT Annual Event: Sarasota Pride, Inc
Favorite LGBT Community Leader/Activist: Shannon M Fortner
Favorite LGBT Owned Businesses: Purple Rhino Lodge
Favorite Area Attraction: The Ringling
Favorite Performing Arts Venue: Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall
Favorite Local Actor/ Actress: Brian Craft
Favorite Realtor: Nate Brooks
Favorite Hotel: The Westin Sarasota
Favorite Apartment Community: ARCOS Apartments
Favorite Church: MCC Church of the Trinity
Favorite Salon: SALON FORTY ONE On Palm Avenue
Favorite Beauty Spa: The Laser Lounge Spa of Sarasota
Favorite Restaurant: Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi
Favorite Bartender: Hunter Vance
Favorite Bar: Oasis - Sarasota's Premier LGBT + Venue
Favorite LGBT Club: Oasis - Sarasota's Premier LGBT + Venue
Favorite Drag Queen Bingo: Beneva Fruitville's Bingo Bonanza
Favorite Interior Designer/ Company: Beginning to End Interiors
Favorite Musician/ Band: Divine AF
Favorite Drag Personality: Beneva Fruitville
Favorite DJ: D.j. Brianna Lee
Favorite Adult Novelty Store: Giggles Sarasota
Favorite Social Media Personality: Joey Panek
2018 SarasotaOUT.com's OUT ICON AWARD: Shannon M Fortner
I hope we can offer something that makes people happy and proud.
It's no 'mirage' that Sarasota has been in desperate need of more gay bars! The region has gone through many waves of highs and lows when it comes to LGBTQ nightlife. Over the last 6 years I've seen gay nights come and go and I've heard the many stories of how thriving the gay community has been in the past! Last week Sarasota was shocked when it was announced that the owners of Barrel 87 were selling the business! We were not disappointed for long because in the same announcement Hunter Vance let the world know that he was opening a new bar, solo!
We sat down with Hunter, one of the hardest working men in our community. While we enjoyed cocktails and asked him questions Hunter was managing the bar, helping his staff, having flyers designed for upcoming events, and scheduling travel for upcoming appearances! Here's what Hunter had to say:
SarasotaOUT.com: "So tell us what happened to Barrel 87?"
Hunter Vance: "As I mentioned on my announcement on Facebook, we (the owners of Barrel 87) decided to sell the business. It was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make, but I respect why they wanted to take a break. "It’s damn exhausting and if you are not careful it can drain you and rob you of the enjoyment of owning a business." You always want to end on a high note and I feel we did. We gave the community a great space to be out and proud and I wanted to continue that tradition and so I decided to open OASIS. Call me crazy, but I owe so much to my community for being their for me when no one else was.
SarasotaOUT.com: What inspired the name Oasis?
Hunter Vance: When you picture an oasis, you think of a fertile place in a desert, where water is found. We all need that place where we can go and find relief from the hustle and bustle of life. It’s not just a watering hole, it's a place to relax, to dance, to just have fun.
SarasotaOUT.com: What are you most excited about with your new venture?
Hunter Vance: One of the first things that comes to mind is having a larger space. This will allow us to think of new and different events, we are already planning some surprises. Likewise we are looking forward to expanding our support to the community. Whether it be for area Pride celebrations, AIDS service organizations or LGBTQ arts and cultural festivals, we want to be a part as best we can. We recognize that we are not a multi-leveled megaclub, with 24K gold pouring from our drafts, but we are committed to be a part of OUR community.
SarasotaOUT.com: What will make oasis stand out in our LGBTQ community?
Hunter Vance: Well for starters, I learned A LOT from working at the Barrel, so we are working on creating a space that everyone can enjoy. We are working on some new parties and events that I know people are going to enjoy. I am so appreciative of all of the emails, texts and comments from people sharing their ideas and though we can’t do all of them, they help us in making OASIS the best LGBTQ+ venue in Sarasota. We are also working with some individuals who have a vast amount of experience and talent working with nightclubs around the country but more importantly they are leaders in the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights. It’s always good to have a set of eyes that sees things from a different perspective.
SarasotaOUT.com What advice would you have to our LGBTQ community in Sarasota?
Hunter Vance: That’s a tough one, I am not sure if I should be serving advice to our community. But I would share the advice I have to tell myself. Be true to who you are, be authentic. Remember that the enemies of our community are still out there, so it makes no sense in attacking each other. But also come to terms that the haters will hate and there is nothing I can do about it. Recognize that I will make mistakes and say the wrong thing but that I can learn and grow from it. Lastly I have to remember that the world is ever growing and changing, and there are many who may not look like me or talk like me but are just like me. That’s why the rainbow is in the center of the OASIS logo, we are all a different color and that is what makes us strong.
SarasotaOUT.com: How do you balance owning a bar and having a successful career?
Hunter Vance: The bar is the center of my career, though I am still making club appearances around the country and doing video shoots. Understanding my limits and sleeping whenever I can LOL. I am blessed and want to keep this going for a long time.
SarasotaOUT.com: Anything else you want to tell us about Oasis or your career?
Hunter Vance: Very simply, I hope you all are a part of it. I am filled with gratitude by the support and feel surrounded by love. There is a part of me that is scared out of my mind. Running a nightclub or bar is not an easy task, but I hope we can offer something that makes people happy and proud.
Thank you Hunter Vance for taking the time to talk with us! We here at SarasotaOUT.com wish you the best and hope that Oasis is very successful!
6525 Gateway Ave,
Sarasota, FL 34231