a woman in a pink shirt holding a rainbow flag
Fritzie Estimond wraps herself in pride in front at the Key West Business Guild on Duval Street. MANDY MILES/Keys Weekly

The title on Fritzie Estimond’s business card — associate director, Key West Business Guild —  doesn’t begin to do her justice.

With a ready laugh that fills the room, Estimond is an ambassador to the all-welcome world of Key West. She’s frequently the first person Key West’s gay and lesbian guests encounter at the guild’s visitor center on Duval Street, where bold pride colors assure new arrivals they’re among friends.

She’s front and center at countless luncheons, happy hours, fundraisers, Fantasy Fest events, WomenFest and of course, Pride. 

More recently, she’s also fallen in love with the backstage labyrinth of local theaters. “Theater is my new love,” she said. “But no one warned me about what happens when a show wraps. You get so close to the people you’ve spent weeks of your life with, then suddenly it’s all over.” 

But Estimond, whose Facebook account chides, “Fritzie, not Fritz,”  has plenty to keep her busy. She’s on the board of the Key West AIDS Memorial and of the quickly evolving Queer Keys nonprofit, which supports young people and is currently renovating its space on Truman Avenue as an LGBTQ community center.

But Key West didn’t initially feel like home, said Estimond. She moved here in 2010 as a juvenile corrections officer, having transferred from her roots in Broward County. But the island felt too small.

“I’d see kids I’d arrested out at night, and I’d see people I knew everywhere,” she recalled. “I didn’t think I’d stay, but then it clicked. Key West has a way of choosing its people, and I guess I’m one of its chosen ones. Now, anything longer than five days off ‘the rock’ feels too long, and I’m ready to get home.”  

What was the volunteer opportunity that changed your worldview? That’s a good question. I don’t volunteer with Key West Plogging much these days because my schedule has gotten pretty demanding. (The Ploggers host a weekly, Friday morning cleanup from 8 to 9 a.m. at various places around Key West.)  But when you commit yourself to doing this small gesture for an hour every Friday, it essentially changes you. It quickly becomes a part of who you are. When I travel, I notice how aware I am of the amount of trash that is produced and around. If we all did our part, it would make a world of difference.

It’s your last night on Earth: who are you spending it with and what are you doing? This may sound cheesy, but I am most definitely spending it with my girlfriend, Chantal. We’re still so new, but we travel well together and truly enjoy each other‘s company. We are probably traveling somewhere abroad trying out a new Michelin Star restaurant and chatting about how we “went out with a bang” in our final meal together.

What is your favorite quality about yourself? Ha! Even as a Leo I find it hard to brag about myself. I must admit I do admire my strength. I believe I possess the willingness to “keep going” because it will all work out in the end.

What 3 words do you hope others use to describe you? Kind. Dependable. Not to be taken for granted. 

Looking back on your life, who or what makes you instantly light up? I instantly light up knowing how far I’ve come. I’m far from where I want to be, but proud of what I have been able to accomplish for myself thus far.

Do you talk to yourself? Do you answer back? Yes. I both talk to myself and I answer back. (I don’t like being ignored). I also sing to myself and make jokes to myself. There’s always several tracks running in my head. And I have started doing encouraging affirmations when I feel challenged to help me remember that no matter what, we are all lovable, forgivable and acceptable.

What’s item #1 on your bucket list? To see as much of the world as possible. It’s the best teacher.

How do you hope people describe you? Respectable, hard working, dependable, funny, kind, talented and loving. 

If you could have one wish come true, what would it be? To be completely debt-free, today and forevermore.

What is your least favorite smell? Your favorite? Well, aside from the usual grossness of trash, blood, poo, etc. I don’t like the smell of rubber. It’s weird. I love the smell of light rain on a sunny, spring day. It has a very distinctive smell to me that I love. It feels nostalgic to childhood. 

What’s your hype song? Currently, it’s “My Shot” from the “Hamilton” musical. IYKYK.

Do you believe in ghosts? What about life after death? Yes, maybe ghosts. I am withholding a definite decision on life after death until I get more experiential info. 

Which celebrity would you choose as a mentor? Viola Davis because I am (still learning to be) an actor now.
What keeps you up at night? Insomnia and ADHD, mostly.

Mandy Miles
Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.