Here are the winners of SFGN’s “Best of 2015” in Palm Beach County

SFGN Best of 2015


Best Non-Profit – Compass
201 N. Dixie Hwy.
Lake Worth

The votes are in, and SFGN readers have selected the Compass Gay & Lesbian Community Center as the best non-profit in Palm Beach County for the second year in a row.

Every year, over 25,000 individuals are served by Compass, the largest gay and lesbian community center in Florida and the Southeast U.S. Support includes youth, transgender, and coming out groups as well as case management for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Compass also features the David Bohnett Cyber Center, the Joel M. Starky Library with over 2,000 books, and an LGBT-friendly business network and directory. Each December, Compass observes World AIDS Day with a presentation of the AIDS Memorial Quilt, the largest display in Florida. Notable events include PrideFest and the Stonewall Ball.

“Compass is honored and thrilled to be voted Best Non-Profit in Palm Beach County,” says Ryanmarie Rice, Chief of Staff. “More than twenty-six years ago, a small group of dedicated volunteers founded Compass in an effort to educate, connect, and serve the LGBT community. The commitment to Compass’ mission, not only by the staff and Board of Trustees, but by our volunteers, motivates Compass to better serve our community, year after year.”

Best LGBT Event – PrideFest of the Palm Beaches

More than 15,000 people attend Pridefest of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches each year. Not only is it the longest running LGBT event in Palm Beach County, but it’s by far the largest. It first launched in 1992 and today showcases more than 140 gay friendly businesses.

But the real highlight is the Sunday parade that marches through downtown Lake Worth.

Next year’s event will take place March 19 and 20 from noon to 6 p.m. at Bryant Park in downtown Lake Worth.

Best LGBT Activist – Julie Seaver

In many ways Julie Seaver is the face of Compass in Palm Beach County, where she serves as its Center Operations Director. And anybody that knows her – loves her. Earlier this year she was named to SFGN’s annual South Florida OUT50 list.

“The most notable trait that makes Julie such an appropriate recipient of this award is that she puts her mind, body and soul into every initiative, every person, and every goal we set as a community, gay or straight. She’s become the go-to-gal for solutions, ideas, and problem-solving for more than just Compass,” said Tony Plakas, CEO of Compass. “Every group, individual or family that comes to Compass knows that if Julie doesn’t have the answer, she will find it. She is not only a great part of my team, but I consider her one of my best friends, part of my personal board of directors, and a soulmate of sorts. And that’s exactly how most people I’ve ever met that know her feel about her. She is an activist because she won’t stop until the job is done, even when she is told by her boss that she needs to stop for a hot-minute and take some time for herself. I wouldn’t reward her for that behavior, but I’m damn glad the SFGN community does.”

While Compass’ Chief of Staff Ryanmarie Rice added, “I’ve never known someone as dedicated to her community or her work as Julie Seaver is. She’s an activist in the truest sense of the word; she never stops working for this community.”

Best City & Beach – Lake Worth

While it may be many years before Lake Worth is known nationally as a hot spot for gays, it’s easily the gay friendliest city in the county. So it’s no surprise that readers voted Lake Worth as the Best City to Live — for the third year in a row. This year we added Best Beach to the list of categories and Lake Worth took that award as well.

The city currently hosts Compass, the gay and lesbian center of the Palm Beaches, Lambda North, a gay 12-step recovery clubhouse, Studio 205, the only gay themed retail store in the county, and the Zoo Health Club, a gay owned gym, and the county’s annual PrideFest takes place in downtown Lake Worth. In addition it was the first city in Florida to fly the rainbow flag to commemorate PrideFest — and that was back in 2000.

“Recognition of Lake Worth as the Best City to Live by SFGN is not a surprise. You don’t have to be gay to enjoy our municipal beach, dock, golf course and parks,” said Tony Plakas, executive director of Compass. “Our center has been in Lake Worth for nearly [seven] years, and the local community has embraced us as much as we’ve embraced our new home.”

Best Drag Queen – Melissa St. John

For the second year in a row readers voted for long time iconic drag queen Melissa St. John as Best Drag Queen in Palm Beach County.

St. John has been around so long that few in the LGBT community in Palm Beach County can remember a time without her. And there are no signs of her slowing down anytime soon.

“I am honored yet again. It means a great deal to be voted in this category, I hold much respect for all those entertainers within the Palm Beach LGBT community to uphold and represent in what we believe,” St. John said. “As a sisterhood sometimes known as ‘The Palm Beach Drag Society’ I’m honored to be recognized for the many years I’ve dedicated my life not only entertaining, but remaining on the forefront for equal rights and fundraising.”

Besides winning Best Drag Queen last year, she was named to SFGN’s annual South Florida OUT50 list this year and recently was crowned Miss South Florida Illusion Classic 2015.

You can catch her at HG Roosters in West Palm Beach every Saturday night at midnight.

Best Social Group – BLAST

BLAST (Bi, Lesbian and Straight Together) Women of WPB is one damn active group hosting more than 200 events per year.

“BLAST has been so successful – 2,000 members in seven years – because it’s a community rather than an organization,” said founder Toni Armstrong Jr. “Members themselves host more than 200 events per year, based on their wide-ranging interests. Most are free, very low cost, or offered on a sliding scale. With multiple gatherings per week all listed on one simple calendar, women in Palm Beach County can easily find each other. Together we shall go far!”

No wonder they won SFGN’s award for Best Social Group.

Visit to join the group.

Best Place to Workout – (Pride Business Alliance Member) Zoo Health Club
Lake Worth, FL ‎

With 80 percent gay clientele it’s not hard to figure out why the Zoo Health Club in downtown Lake Worth won for Best Gym for the second year in a row.

The franchise location opened up 5 years ago by Dawn Malega and her partner.

“We’re a friendly gym. We don’t judge anybody here. People feel comfortable about their sexuality here,” Malega said. “We’re involved in everything, from gay pride to supporting Compass and hosting mixers. We try to support the community and they support us.”

One reviewer on Yelp said: “Yes, it’s a small club but we love the friendly atmosphere & helpful staff!”

The 2,700 square foot gym is 24 hours featuring state of the art equipment, personal trainers and several group classes including circuit training.

Original article posted in the South Florida Gay News on November 19, 2015 by several SFGN staff.