4.10.14 Editor’s Desk

By : Steve Blanchard
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SteveBlanchardHeadshot_137x185Before this issue of Watermark went to press, I celebrated another year on this planet.

It wasn’t one of those “milestone birthdays” with an “0” or even a “5” after the first number. But it was a landmark to me, nonetheless.

This birthday was especially poignant for me because the year of my life that just came to a close was one of change. It saw the end of a long-term relationship, the death of—not just one—but two—elderly pets, and the beginnings of a move to a new address.

It was a lot to take in and process within 12 months, and like every major change in life, the details vary depending on whom you ask or how the question is phrased. But it’s safe to say there was plenty of excitement, a good deal of tears, lots of anxiety and a fair amount of anger mixed in.

But we have to choose to learn from difficult and challenging experiences and use our newfound education to move forward. I like to say I’ve been rebooted, much like a computer or a smart phone. It’s a fresh new start and I’m looking forward to what lies ahead for me.

Change is an inevitable part of life and not something we typically want to see personally, especially on a grand scale. But no matter how insulated we believe we are from that change, it happens—for both the good and the bad.

I’m not the same person I was when I arrived in Florida in 2000. I’m older, of course, smarter (hopefully), healthier, happier, better at my job and much less naive than those first years in the Sunshine State. My circle of friends and acquaintances has also exploded exponentially, which is in large part to my job—no, my career—here as editor of Watermark.

This summer marks my fifth year as editor and in 2004 I began my relationship with this publication as a freelance contributor.

This is also a milestone year for the paper of my employ. It was 20 years ago—in 1994, that publisher Tom Dyer assembled Volume 1, Issue 1, of Watermark with a skeleton crew. The actual anniversary is appropriately Labor Day, and beginning with this issue, Tom and the staff of the paper will take us down memory lane and look at the “years that were” in the evolution of our publication. We will also participate in the popular “Throwback Thursday” movement taking over Facebook every week, so make sure you follow us there.

On Page 54 of this issue, you’ll see a representation of our first cover, a collection of photographs from 1994 that represented the LGBT community of that era, and some fun lists of what the country was talking about, listening to and watching during that calendar year.

We will continue to showcase these pages “Looking Back” in each issue of Watermark leading up to our 20th anniversary edition, which will not-so-accidentally coincide with one helluva party.

Viewing the metamorphosis of Watermark is an entertaining and informative experience. The small paper that started with a tiny investment and a lot of love has developed into an LGBT news leader in Orlando and Tampa Bay and has seen many redesigns. Performing arts venues reach out to us for coverage on touring celebrities and Broadway shows, politicians ask us to feature them or for chances to comment on topical discussions, and our website is updated daily with breaking news.

Of course, all of this talk about evolution is directly related to the two-decade anniversary of this newsmagazine, and 20 years is quite a milestone, especially in print publication.

But every single year is something to be celebrated, whether it’s at a place of business, a home or in front of a cake filled with candles.

Every time we experience change, we’re granted an opportunity to learn. And every time we learn, we’re prepared for the next round of change inevitably rushing toward us.

Times change, readerships change and so do relationships. Technology is everywhere today, and maybe the lesson we’re supposed to learn from it is that a reboot once in awhile is not only cleansing, but an incredibly powerful experience.

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