12.19.13 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
Comments: 0

SteveBlanchardHeadshotWhat a year!

The year that was 2013 seems to have come and gone in a flash. In my brain, the past 12 months are a rush of images from disappointing county commission votes and the  jubilant celebrations of election results to soggy pride costumes and festival floats in St. Petersburg and insanely creative headdresses in Orlando.

But there was so much more to define 2013 as a progressive and successful year for the LGBT community.

Athletes like Jason Collins and Britney Griner came out of the closet (even though only a handful of us had heard of the NBA’s Collins before), LGBT-focused television shows were cancelled (no more Smash, thanks to NBC) and Hannah Montana grew up and I think had some kind of mental breakdown during the VMAs.

But whatever the motivation behind that performance, Miley Cyrus became a household name and “Wrecking Ball” is constantly played on the radio.

The biggest news of the year, at least for American LGBTs, came in June. That month, just as cities around the country geared up for Pride celebrations, the United States Supreme Court struck down the part of the Defense of Marriage Act that specifically targeted same-sex couples and prevented marriage equality on a federal level. States also took stands on marriage equality in 2013, several of which passed legislation at record speed to ensure same-sex couples can be protected under the law.

As this year comes to a close, a total of 16 states, and the District of Columbia, offer marriage equality!

Of course, it wasn’t always all good news. This is the year that Mother Russia chose to make the “propaganda” of LGBT culture illegal, even though the supposedly welcoming Olympic Games will land in that country this coming February. And just recently, Australia took back its commitment to marriage equality and India made homosexuality illegal!

Hollywood, a bevy of LGBT support, saw the loss of some big names this year. We lost actors Paul Walker, Marcia Wallace, Cory Monteith and James Gandolfini.

And, oh yeah, the federal government shut down there for awhile, restricting access to public parks, libraries and some very important services.

And that’s just a small glimpse into the year that was.

It’s a challenge piecing together a “Year in Review” issue. As the staff at Watermark combs through our previous 25 issues of 2013, we realize just how much happens over this 12-month span. Whittling down major events into small sentences seems to belittle the impact of the stories.

But this gives us a chance to look in our own back yards and recognize those who have helped make our local communities better, or have inspired us to strive for bigger and better things in the upcoming year.

This year, we’re excited to honor four remarkable people, three representing Tampa Bay and one representing Orlando.

Mikael Audebert is on the cover of our Orlando issue and was an easy choice for our editorial team. His ongoing commitment to not only supporting Central Florida’s LGBT community but to focus on it as a way to pull business, events and positive publicity to Orlando is awe-inspiring. The native of France has accomplished so much since moving to Florida, and we wanted to learn a little bit more about him.

On our Tampa Bay issue, we celebrate the historic ration of LGBT members on the St. Petersburg City Council. November saw Darden Rice and Amy Foster win seats on the council, and both women now join Steve Kornell as elected members of the LGBT community representing that city. The three were generous enough with their time, despite the hectic schedules of public life and the holidays, to answer a few question for us and pose in front of St. Petersburg’s City Hall for the cover photo.

This year is ending on a high note, but it by no means that advances in LGBT equality has been achieved or that more strides can’t be made. In fact, 2013 was a monumental year full of momentum as we push into 2014.

And while the world continues to spin and pop culture fads come and go. Our community will continue to change perceptions and change minds.

Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!

Share this story: