3.23.17 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
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Billy Manes

“Eat the rich” is the common parlance for societal injustice mostly attributed to 18th Century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau; “Let them eat cake!” is but another foodie rallying call through political revolution that has often been (falsely) assigned to Marie Antoinette in a French Revolution fit – though it, too, has its roots in Rousseau’s philosophically hyperbolic oeuvre. At any rate, the message is clear: When we’re not voting with our ballots or simply our wallets, we are voting with our stomachs.

In this issue, Watermark takes on the daunting task of breaking down the politics of eating. Before you even flip to our cover story, “Love Bites,” please understand that we know that it is impossible for us to be absolute and comprehensive when there are restaurants, food joints – some even on wheels! – and means of masticating in nearly every urban peripheral glance. I’m sure we’ll catch hell for some exclusions, but let’s just consider this a starting point.

For me, the starting point came with Chik-Fil-A, which – while not operating on Sundays – has been strong in its support of socially conservative causes. It causes quite a conundrum in the big picture, though. As a franchise, the purveyor of chicken in bread has many faces, several of which in the Central Florida area are recognized as LGBTQ allies or, indeed, identifiers. Some people who shall not be named, but work at the Watermark HQ, really miss their Chik-Fil-A kick, even if to some people (me) it’s never tasted that good, and the experience of dining there generally feels like a Methodist summer camp mess hall full of vacant stares.

More than the chest-beating hangry battle of polemics I’m implying here, our story focuses on celebrating some of the better eateries tickling our palates in Tampa Bay and Orlando (and beyond). Something to the tune of: If you love Jimmy John’s and all of its caged-hunting ways, but aren’t comfortable with the pictures of millionaires with dead endangered animals, you might want to try another food emporium with more local ties and far better ethics.

We also realize that there are economic issues at stake, everything from minimum wage to family planning for long nights that require easy dinners. However, if the alternatives are just as easy – and more sustainable for communities – consideration of the alternatives is at least fair.

Speaking of fair, there remains a cornucopia of other issues rattling about Watermark’s collective brain this week. In Polk County, there is an investigation into whether a school bus driver was out of line when throwing quasi-Biblical shade at a child with two mothers. In Orlando, activists and politicians are trying to push through what should be obvious to everyone by now: equal pay for equal work. Also, the tides are turning as lawyers get involved with helping our transgender population get their proper documentation through the haze of governmental bureaucracies. Our Viewpoint columnists tackle issues of ageism in the wake of Oscar-gate and conservatism in the face of a fumbling Trump presidency. We’re also wringing our hands over state policy on conversion therapy hitting a more local stride down south and in Tampa Bay. It doesn’t seem like anyone in power wants to say the word “gay” this session, according to State Rep. David Richardson, so tainted are our times.

On our more aesthetic side, we look at the nascent lesbianism in the Disney princess canon by way of Mulan from Disenchanted! while gazing over to the Sarasota Film Festival for its LGBTQ offerings headed our way at this year’s event.

With Pride season tiptoeing up to our door in the coming months – along with Orlando Fringe and everything else fabulous – we’re keeping our shared eye on the issues, but not letting ourselves get too bogged down by the noise machine coming out of Tallahassee and, indeed, Washington D.C.

Anyway, it’s time to go out and get some food served with a side of love. What’s on your menu?

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