Overheard in Orlando: Fear is not a factor

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Never fear, Carlos Smith is here
As the newly elected chair of the Orange County Democrats, Carlos Smith is responsible for 295,000 voters. Corralling the resources needed for contentious upcoming elections that includes two high profile races, for governor and county mayor, is a scary thought. So, is Smith afraid? It’s not likely. He’s a thrill-seeker. Among his achievements: hanging precariously 1,000 feet in the air from a plane traveling 100 mph, wearing a water-filled helmet with angry eels swimming around and leaping across construction platforms. Smith, 33, who can also boast climbing the Andes Mountains, was once a contestant on NBC’s Fear Factor. The reality show that has contestants performing scary stunts and Smith made it to the finals. Compared to facing what I did on Fear Factor all those years ago, taking on Republicans in 2014 will be a cakewalk, Smith said. Democrats in Orange County have great candidates, a message that resonates with voters, and a record of fighting for fairness and equal opportunity for everybody. Republicans like Rick Scott and Teresa Jacobs are the ones who will be running scared.

Family-friendly fun
Many of Central Florida’s LGBT festivals and celebrations, like Gay Days and St. Pete Pride, aren’t always viewed as family-friendly. In their enthusiasm for those street parties, revelers are often scantily clad or overly inebriated. Converge Orlando, Inc, Central Florida’s LGBT Convention and Visitors Bureau, has come to the rescue with a brand new event called Family Outfest. It’s scheduled for July 1- 7 and promises to be wholesome fun for the whole family. (Though the opening event looks to be a cocktail reception). The Facebook page promises several events daily, including theme park excursions, though a specific schedule has not been released.

Lake County’s Mount Dora becomes just a little more gay
Another new LGBT business has sprouted up in downtown Mount Dora. We attended the grand opening Jan. 11 of Papilio, owned by Henry Ollendick and his partner Joel Maas. The slogan for the gift shop, which is named after the Latin word for butterfly, is where nature and creativity coexist. Ollendick and Maas were tired of Key West and settled on a move to Mount Dora. Their shop, located at 120 W Fifth Ave., is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and closed on Sundays. The couple joins Steve Bowersock and Mike Senger of Bowersock Gallery and Crissy Stile and Elena Jarett of Barrell of Books and Games. Know of other LGBT businesses in Mount Dora? Let us know at WatermarkOnline.com.

Rubens wants you to sit for a portrait
Some of our favorite gays have been popping up all over Facebook dressed in 16th century garb pictured in gilded-frames. Although it appears Flemish Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens has immortalized them in one of his paintings, they are actually part of Picture Yourself in Art. The promotion, which allows anyone to become a part of a painting, is an Orlando Museum of Art promotion to highlight its exhibit, Rubens, Rembrandt, Gainsborough and The Golden Age, which opens Jan. 25 and runs through May 5. It features 72 paintings from famous artists and is on loan from the Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Ky. To have your photograph taken with your face in a famous painting, call or visit the museum.

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