Editor’s desk 6.18.15

By : Rick Claggett
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Rick Claggett

Rick Claggett

We are in the eye of the big gay storm know as June here at Watermark Media.

It’s fitting that June is the start of the hurricane season and the busiest gay month of the year. No time is wasted either. As soon as June hits our calendars, we are hunkering down for a week long wave of fabulous festivities. After a short hiatus we are back in the thick of it with pride celebrations.

Gay Days packs the first punch. Watermark covered over 30 events with less than ten staff members, freelancers and interns from June 2 to June 7. Log on to WatermarkOnline.com to see all the photo galleries of those events. You will also find some of those pictures in this issues Orlando News section, as well as Gallery W.

Although a whirlwind, Gay Days is a frenzy of fun and this year did not disappoint. I had the pleasure of staying at the Double Tree for the first time. What a smart move! I recommend anyone enjoying the weekend stay at one of the host hotels next year. You will have easy access to all the parties as well as a place to make a quick costume change if you need refreshing.

Keeping with tradition, I attended the coveted Riptide party at Typhoon Lagoon. To add a little extra fun I took my straight brother with me; this being his first big gay event outside Gay Day at the Magic Kingdom. My favorite quote from him was, “I really need to work out!” A phrase he repeated every 30 minutes.

With the publication of this issue, we enter the eye of the storm. For a few days we can relax and regroup before revving up for the next wave of celebrations at St. Pete Pride.

If you haven’t been to St. Pete Pride, wake up! It is unique experience. Being based in Orlando I love making the trip to St. Pete. I work the entire time, but I get to have fun so it is still like a vacation. As a battle cry, I tend to yell out in the office “Tampa Bay trip!” as I head to my car for pride. It’s akin to Joey Tribbiani and his “London baby!” chant.

My favorite memories of St. Pete Pride definitely center around the parade set up. I’m usually not a fan of huge crowds, but this is different. There are so many gay and gay friendly people in large groups within a huge parking lot, and with an enormous amount of spectators anxiously waiting to celebrate equality. It’s an inspiring time.

I’m also a fan of how the masses handle the protesters. Although dwindling in numbers, protesters tend to make it out to the parade at St. Pete Pride. Instead of anger, parade attendees simply display pride in themselves and each other. It’s difficult to meet hate with grace, especially when there so many people around.

Perhaps the most exciting of the St. Pete Pride parades came last year with the inauguration of the nighttime parade. It was the first time I attended a nighttime parade and I found myself wondering why all parades don’t take place after sunset. The spectacle of lights is beautiful.

Now that everyone has had a year to experiment with the change, I’m looking forward to see what some organizations come up with this time.

The Watermark contingent typically stays at the Hampton Inn St. Petersburg for the weekend. The management and staff are very welcoming to its guests. Every year they throw a Saturday pool party and this year Watermark is providing DJ VJ Nick to help spice up the day. You have to be a guest to attend so book a room now.

This issue of Watermark is supersized with everything you need to know about St. Pete Pride. We have the five day schedule of events, an in depth look at your Grand Marshals, hints on parade and festival survival and look at entertainer Alex Newell. I hope you enjoy the issue and the weekend. This is St. Pete’s turn to shine.

When this June storm passes, you will not see my mug attached to this column. Starting with the next issue you will be introduced to our new editor-in-chief, Billy Manes. For three issues I have had the pleasure of filling this space and I thank you for taking the time to read it. Although I will not occupy this space, I will return to writing my regular column, Words to Live By. For the mean time though, bye Felicia!

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