9.3.09 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
Comments: 1

SteveBlanchardHeadshotI know I have some big shoes to fill.

As the new editor of Watermark, I have a responsibility to stay true to the mission of Watermark and the guidelines, standards and principals outlined by our publisher, Tom Dyer, and our previous editors—Ronni Radner and the late Dave Weithop.

Many of our readers know me already—mostly in Tampa Bay—where I’ve worked as the Tampa Bay Bureau Chief for the past two years. Before that I was a staff writer.

It’s hard to believe that I started with this publication back in 2004 as a freelancer looking to make some extra cash while I was hunting for a new job. But I’m here in the driver’s seat, so to speak, and I’m excited about my newest role.

Someone asked me recently if in today’s high-tech world if there is still a need for a publication that focuses strictly on LGBT news in the state. Web sites constantly offer updates and even the mainstream media is finally giving (some) LGBT issues the coverage they deserve.
That’s all true—but I believe there is definitely still a need for a publication like Watermark.

The mission of Watermark—and mine as well—is to offer all of Central Florida a close, true and honest look at the LGBT community. I see us as a newspaper, meaning it’s our responsibility to deliver news of all kinds to every community we serve on a bi-weekly basis.

But we also have a new tool at our disposal—WatermarkOnline.com. Even though we are bi-weekly in print, we still strive to provide news on a daily basis online. Make sure you check us out and join our online community.

I live and work in Tampa Bay and we are, in fact, published out of Orlando. We are not, however, an Orlando publication and we are not a Tampa Bay publication. We are a central Florida publication, and we stretch from coast to coast.

As the newest editor of this paper I know I still have a lot to learn—but that’s part of the excitement. If you’re in a position where you’ve learned everything, you should probably look for other employment. I will make mistakes and I know that first typo I spot after production will make my stomach knot.

But it’s about informing the community and Watermark will continue to bring you the news from Orlando, Tampa Bay, Sarasota and throughout Florida. Please feel free to contact me with story ideas, suggestions or comments. I look forward to meeting and working with everyone in our community.

It’s amazing the reaction bumper stickers can get from drivers—including myself. I consider myself a left-leaning gay man. I’m all for same-sex marriage and adoption rights for LGBTs, I support the decision of transgender individuals to undergo surgery to find his or her true self and I vote democratic—most of the time. But, I’m God-fearing, don’t mind prayer in schools as long as no one is forced to participate and am okay if someone owns a gun—if it’s obtained legally, stored correctly and the user knows what he or she is doing when it’s in hand.

So it’s hard to label me.

Driving to Orlando recently I passed a truck with a mass of conservative bumper stickers that seemed to attack anything that would be considered liberal. I admit I couldn’t see the fine text on all of those stickers, but the ones I did see ranged from “Annoy a liberal, vote with common sense” and “Stop Obamacare.” And yes, I realize there are liberals with similar stickers attacking conservatives.

Why are we so stuck on labels?

I’m a gay male, but I don’t identify myself as that when I meet a new person. I’m Steve. Anything else you want to know, just ask. Being gay is inconsequential and doesn’t affect who I am as a person.

I think the same goes for those deeply connected to a political party. Just look at the funeral of Sen. Ted Kennedy. Republicans, Democrats, liberals and conservatives showed support to that family and recognized his contributions to our country.

It’s rare that Washington can teach us a lesson about loving your fellow man (or woman), but that display was inspirational.
I can only hope the LGBT community can follow suit.

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