Key West Neighbor of the Week: Mike Mongo

He donned earphones for a spin at the turntables as a DJ.

He was involved with legendary graffiti artist and designer Shepard Fairy.

He stained his hands with ink as the publisher for the Charleston City Paper.

He has worked with Mark Ecko, a global, graphics and ad designer mogul.

He served in the United States Army.

He authored a children’s book about the future of space exploration.

He opened new dialogue in his bid to become the Mayor of Key West.

Today he is the new president of the Key West Gay and Lesbian Community Center!

He is Mike Mongo.

The Key West Weekly’s Chris Shultz sat down with Mr. Mongo to discuss his name, the future and when he sleeps.

How long have you lived in KW and why did you move here?
I got here the first time when I was three month old in 1965 and stayed here until I was three. I moved back here to stay in 2002… after the skyscrapers fell. Anywhere outside of Key West kind of blew.

You are the new president of the Key West Gay and Lesbian Community Center what do you hope to accomplish with this role?
I want to provide a voice of advocacy when situations come up when people’s rights are restricted, or people are held back or put down. I just want to make sure the playing field is fair. In the past the battle has been about having a place in society. Now the battle is making sure everyone’s battle is equal. There’s a shift. We had to get rights for people who are gay now we have to get rights for everyone and everyone we represent – Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Allies, and Intersex.

What changes do you hope the center can bring to the community?
We have to reinvent ourselves to move on. I do not just want to see the “tolerance” of sexual orientation, but equality. By this I mean we have fight for equality for all aspects like marriage, military, taxes and insurance: the fight for the basic rights for everyone in this country.

If Key West could be what you want it to be, what would it be?
Key West is what I want it to be. My answer is two-parts. This island is already everything to everyone. In addition, Key West is a model community for the rest of the world. Diversity, tolerance, acceptance; those are the three big attributes in my perspective we showcase the world, and we have three entities, which send a broad message. The Mel Fisher Museum is about following your dreams. The Conch Republic itself about following the beat of a different drummer, and “One Human Family,” a mantra coined by JT Thompson, is about being you.

What does it mean to be a neighbor in Key West?
Quietly helping. It’s that simple.

What do you see in the future of for the island?
I see good things. There are many good compassionate people here who are dedicated to making Key Wets a better place. It’s challenging for me to imagine it not being an even better place.

How do you suggest others, who want to ensure a bright future for the island, be involved?
Do what you love, and love what you do. Often we’ll make exchanges. We’ll sift papers because we love our children. That’s a fair trade off, but it doesn’t have to go that way. It can be, in addition to say loving our children; we can find a career or work which fulfills us as individuals.

If you could have one super power what would it be?
That’s a funny question because it presupposes that I don’t have a super power already. (laughs) I am not saying I have any super powers. If I could have one it would be to have the ability to help people who are mentally ill.

You do a lot to help out children by helping to bring computers to areas that are in need.
I am deeply involved with Take Stock in Children, which is the mentorship program of Monroe County. I started with my mentee, Maximilian Mealor in middle school and will be with him until he graduates. What they get for being in the program is their college paid for in the state of Florida.  I am also involved in a “Computer for Jamaica” project, and in the past year and a have we have shipped 67 computers to Brampton Primary, and by the end of the year they will have the highest computer to student ratio in Jamaica.

Do you sleep?
I work to get 4-6 hours a night.

Being of Key West most well known people and characters of today, who are some of your favorite characters of keys history?
Captain Outrageous, The Cookie Lady, Captain Tony was cool and I love the Cat Man, he is underrated. In particular I like to pay attention to the development and growth of the children on the island. We all have fears about where we’re heading socially or ecologically. The kids are the answer. If we inspire them, then our future is going to be awesome. These are the things I think about.

Are you going to run for Mayor of Key West again?
Who knows what the future holds? (smiling)

You are a very ambitious, dynamic, and driven man. Are you content where you are now?
I don’t see myself as a striving for the next level. I had a 38-year adolescence. I had more fun than people did in their teen years. I traveled. I created businesses. I have more than a modicum of credibility with artistic communities. I’m 45. This is a great place for me.



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