6.29.17 Editor’s Desk

By : Billy Manes
Comments: 0

Share this story:

Amid all of the hue and cry about the transformative nature of St. Pete Pride over the weekend – it was all going to be about moving the parade route; it would be new shoes to bear the 15 years upon which the celebration previously stood – most concerns seemed to melt into the violet of the sunset sky along Bayshore Drive on Saturday night, dancing in abandon with the glitter and the confetti to various mixes of pop songs you might be too old to know, much less remember.

What struck me most, though, was just how together – how empathetic, collective and genuine – that a mass gathering that may have attracted 200,000 people could be.

It goes without saying that the inclusion of a pre-Pride parade for the transgender community set a unique tone. We’re already in double digits this year in trans murders, and it was important to give this next wave – this new wave – of our liberation movement the front seat.

“It sends a very strong signal for a lot of reasons,” Equality Florida director of transgender equality told us. “Number one is just visibility.”

And in the thumping bass of a large LGBTQ gathering, visibility was the name of the game. All of the parade floats, all of the marchers, all of those watching from behind the stanchions walked away with a sense of what our community has become and, on some levels, where it is going.

Our cover story this week deals with some of the darker corners of identity, specifically those corners related to mental health and trauma. We’re in no way trying to be rain on that parade – or downers, so to speak – but what we do want people to know is that there are methods of recovery from the doubt that all too many endure within the LGBTQ community. And, in the wake of Pulse, the resources have exponentially increased.

For a long time, we’ve taken mental health to be a dark signal in the LGBTQ community, and not without reason. Entire careers have been built on electro-shock therapy and “praying away the gay,” even though the international psychological community has dismissed reparative therapy outright. That, however, doesn’t change learned behaviors of those willing to carpetbag on self-help trends, or parents wanting to hand their children off to “experts” who will simply strip them clean of the gay and return them in Buster Browns and pleated khakis.

Culturally speaking – and even speaking sensitively of ingrained American idioms and choices – detaching LGBTQ status from the slalom of medicated insanity has proven difficult: partially because of religion, partially because of tradition. The experts spoken to for our cover story offer different glimpses into this realm of psychological care that continues to increase, especially after the despair – and even the cultural clashes – of the 2016 Pulse massacre.

But those still waters run way deeper. For me, it was hearing that my own partner of 11 years never recovered from the shocks entered into his body to cure him of “the gay” back in the early ‘70s, at least until he shot himself. It was also my own suicide attempt. In short, seek help. It is out there.

In here, the latest issue of Watermark, we explore a veritable cornucopia of issues that are community currently confronts, not all of which are fits of consternation. For the theater-inclined readers, we bring you tried-and-tested Doug Ba’aser’s Fringe-winning take on being Joan Crawford for a night, the perils of celebrity as seen through the gaze of Marie Antoinette, a wrap-up of St. Pete Pride, a love story about a photo seen around the world, the hope for more transgender representation in our law enforcement organizations and a fond welcome to Orlando for the National Organization for Women. Also, we bid a fond (though early) adieu to longtime LGBTQ supporter and radio personality Jim Philips, who is retiring in a few months. We have a lot to celebrate. So jump on in. The water’s fine, and the people are even finer.

Share this story: