Watermark’s Wedding Bells: Kellie & Sarah Evans

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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They’ll never agree about who “winked” first, but their first e-mails sent through Match.com — which they refer to as the “mini People’s Choice Awards” — led to their last first date. The messages they began exchanging are now referred to as chapters in their love story. Cue the “awwww.”

Sarah was just trying to figure out how to be a single mom to her son, Gavin, when she and Kellie started chatting. “The bar and club scene was just not me. I’m not the kind to just go up to someone and start a conversation,” she says. “I couldn’t believe [Kellie] started a conversation with me. I mean, have you seen her? I definitely freaked out a little.”

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Orlando’s Overheard: Alliance honored, Outloud’s new host and more

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One Orlando Alliance honored

On July 15th, Orange County Mayor Theresa Jacobs honored the One Orlando Alliance with the 2017 Distinguished Citizen of the Year Award, the first time the county gave the award to a group.

The One Orlando Alliance is made up of over 40 local service organizations, including Watermark, and serves as a vital support system to strengthen the community in the wake of the Pulse tragedy.

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Tampa Bay’s Overheard: New show, new leader

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A groundbreaking series in our own backyard

As the sun rises over the city of Tampa Bay, the audience is introduced to a group of ambitious and motivated black, lesbian women attempting to change the face of television.

Earlier this week LaJoi Media debuted the premiere episode of My Beautiful Pain, a YouTube series about the relationships and careers within a group of entrepreneurial lesbians of color determined to make it as the “first black LGBT network.”

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White House unsure if trans troops will get boot under Trump policy

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders expressed uncertainty on Wednesday when asked whether transgender people currently serving in the armed forces will be able to remain under President Trump’s new ban on their service.

Under questioning from ABC News’ Jonathan Karl, Sanders was unable to say whether the estimated 15,000 transgender troops currently in service will be thrown out of the military.

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DOJ: Anti-gay discrimination perfectly OK under federal law

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The U.S. Justice Department has declared anti-gay discrimination is lawful under current federal civil rights law, filing an friend-of-the-court brief in a case of alleging employment discrimination.

In a 23-page brief, the Justice Department under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rejects the notion that sexual-orientation discrimination is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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McCain sour over Trump’s declaration of trans military ban

By : Chris Johnson OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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Senate Armed Services Committee Chair John McCain (R-Ariz.) criticized President Trump’s announcement on Wednesday that he intends to ban transgender people from the U.S. military.

McCain, who recently returned to the Senate after being diagnosed with brain cancer, said Trump’s series of tweets declaring the change are “yet another example of why major policy announcements should not be made via Twitter.”

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NGLCC celebrates 15 years with a conference in Vegas

By : Natalia Caballero
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LAS VEGAS | The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, or NGLCC, is celebrating its 15th year of bringing together LGBTQ businesses and professionals together with the 2017 International Business & Leadership Conference in Las Vegas Aug. 1-4.

Founded in 2002, The NGLCC began when Justin Nelson and Chance Mitchell realized no one had really considered the economic equality of LGBTQ people or the impact economics could have on the equality movement, according to the NGLCC website.

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Remembering Ryan: Ryan Stroehlein lives on in the hearts of Enigma family, LGBTQ community

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | When news broke that Ryan Stroehlein had tragically lost his life in a motorcycle accident July 11, shockwaves were felt throughout St. Petersburg’s LGBTQ community.

Some knew him well, and others just as a community ally with an infectious smile and uplifting demeanor; a young man standing behind the bar at local hotspot Enigma. But all agreed that he would be missed.

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It’s all Black & White for Balance Tampa Bay’s Masquerade Ball at The RITZ Ybor

By : Sophia Mackrides
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TAMPA | Balance Tampa Bay is back, masks on and ready, for the Third Annual Masquerade Ball coming to the Ritz Ybor July 29.

Balance Tampa Bay’s first two Masquerade Balls —2015’s inaugural party that had hundreds of paper faces on parade and last year’s Summer Olympics-inspired Rio-themed bash— were some of the biggest celebrations in Tampa Bay, and there is no reason to think that this year will be any different.

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‘My Friend Dahmer’ trailer gives first look at serial killer biopic

By : MARIAH COOPER OF THE WASHINGTON BLADE, COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL LGBT MEDIA ASSOCIATION
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The first trailer for “My Friend Dahmer,” a biopic about the notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, has been released.

“My Friend Dahmer” follows a young Dahmer (Ross Lynch) during his high school years in the 1970s until he commits his first murder two weeks after high school graduation. The film is based on the graphic novel series by John “Derf” Backderf (Alex Wolff), a high school friend of Dahmer’s.

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Texas Senate advances anti-transgender bathroom bill

By : Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National LGBT Media Association
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The Texas State approved legislation on Tuesday that would bar transgender kids from using certain restrooms consistent with their gender identity, inching the state closer to enacting the law despite objections the from transgender advocates, the business community and law enforcement.

By a 21-10 vote, the chamber approved Senate Bill 3, which would bar schools from allowing transgender students to use the restroom of their choice and undercut municipal non-discrimination protections for transgender people in restrooms, locker rooms and athletic activities.

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Trump tweets ban on transgender individuals in U.S. military

By : Jeremy Williams
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President Donald Trump announced via Twitter July 26 that transgender people will not be allowed to serve in the United States military.

In a string of tweets, Trump stated that he consulted with generals and military experts and that “our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

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