“Turn and face the strange,” a certain crazy-eyed pop-cultural god once warned us through the bedazzled bullhorn of a 1970s rainbow of weathered hope. “Ch-ch-changes” were at the root of David Bowie’s 1972 rhythmic cause for alarm and call to arms, a sort of anthemic response to a society teetering on various brinks, with only the scary monsters and super freaks holding on to any notion of prescribed normality. Everything – from war crises to social shifts to women’s rights to gay rights – was caught in the shuffle, and, these days, we’re better for it, right? Plate tectonics, changing fads, political upheaval and shifts in the weather have all resulted in who we are right now. And, in many ways, we are better for it. In some, we are far worse.

This week’s Watermark explores the changes we’re going through, both nuanced and on the real-estate surface, against the backdrop of Orlando’s Come Out With Pride celebration, of which we are always proud to be a part. While many, including those of us making journalistic noise at this publication, are urging caution in just how the LGBT community evolves from dissimilation to assimilation, how we negotiate our path into the grand old world of marriage and acceptance and infinite joy, we’re also aware of the shoulders upon which we’ve stood to get us here, even to get us in the conversation. You’ve heard this lecture before: Don’t forget from where you’ve come and never forget the history upon which you stand. You get it.

But let’s also not forget our differences, our successes and our failures.

One of the things I’m most proud of in this week’s issue comes in the shape of eyes – more specifically, the disarmed, contextually disrobed eyes that make up photographer Jess T. Dugan’s “Every breath we drew” exhibit at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College. Dugan’s keen perception of how masculinity fits into intimacy, especially in the art of portraiture, is something to behold (as you should; the show is free and running through January). The strange that we face now is real, Dugan’s work argues, and, well, it isn’t that strange at all if you take a moment to address and appreciate it.

Elsewhere, we address real, physical change that is happening in the St. Petersburg community with the closing of longtime watering hole and nightclub Georgie’s Alibi. Sometimes earthquakes are quiet and nearly unnoticeable, but in the case of Georgie’s and the potential for further “gayborhood” dismantling, the aftershock can be disabling (insert silent but deadly joke here). Though many questions remain about the fate of the “command center” for LGBT individuals in the Burg – accusations and denials continue to fly on that one, which is typical to just about any bar’s closure – the implications of a community unraveling are worth paying attention to. If you pan out with your camera, you could make the argument that the need for LGBT communities and services is dwindling, that our economic fortitude has been overplayed, that we’d all rather stare into a smart phone than across a bar, anyway.

Is that all there is?

Well, no. In fact, our diligence is arguably more required now than ever, given the soft-lens treatment the LGBT community is getting in the wake of marriage equality. Just look at hate group persona-non-grata Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel and his blatant lies about papal sympathy for his client, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis (oh, and that fake Peruvian photo-op). And, not to put too fine a point on it, let’s look at the defending of the defenseless shootings in Oregon last week by people running for president; these are the same people who play the deflection game on gay issues, on health issues, on labor issues. We can’t give them a free pass. Not now, not ever.

As usual, it’s not all serious here in our Watermark dressing room. We have good news about community development on the Gulf Coast; we have a celebration of Sarasota Pride; we have a call to arms from local attorney and activist Mary Meeks that urges the community to remain active and push forward in these times of Pride; we have fantastic costumes from Priscilla going on a cruise; we have bears (oh my!). Sometimes we just like to party and take long walks on the beach. Other times, we like to try a little harder.

“We could be heroes just for one day,” the Grand Dame once shouted.

Happy Pride, Orlando. Let’s make that day today.

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