8.24.17 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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Hate is easy. Anger is easy. Drive through downtown Orlando on I-4, or cross the Howard Frankland Bridge at rush hour and you will see what I mean. People either drive too aggressively, or are not aggressive enough. Drivers rubberneck their way past an accident or cut you off, almost creating an accident of their own. More often than not, our instinct is to be angry.

Have you ever found yourself fuming when you are leaving a crowded elevator while new passengers rush onboard before you have a chance to exit? Do you fight for a parking space around the holidays and think of keying the car that took your spot? Do you get irritated when you have to answer a question more than once?

About a year ago I was tasked with a project to write down everything that irritated me, made me angry or introduced hate into my life. Everything mentioned above made the list, and then some. That was the easy part. The difficulty came when I was asked to explain what role I played in those situations that caused so much animosity.

It’s hard to do because it’s easy to hate what you don’t understand. It’s easy to be angry at someone when you don’t walk in their shoes. When you are forced to try and see a different side, you begin to open up to how you might be adding to the problem.

It’s heartbreaking to see the violence and anger that consumes our country. We can’t control other people’s hatred. We can only control how we react to it. Perpetuating hate does no good. We would live in a better environment with a little patience and understanding.

I was inspired by a Facebook post I read earlier today. It’s attributed to a friend of a friend of a friend and reads: “While America figures this all out; I’m going to continue holding doors for strangers, letting people cut in front of me in traffic, letting someone with two items go in front of me while I have a cart full of groceries. I’ll be saying good morning, being patient with a waiter, or the new person learning in the doctor’s office, smiling at strangers, saying please and thank you as often as I am provided the opportunity. Because I will not stand idly by and let children live in a world where unconditional love is invisible. Join me in showing love and respect to others and setting a good example. Find your own way to swing the pendulum in the direction of love.”

We live in a world where hate groups and hate crimes are on the rise, where top leadership emboldens those with pent up anger. We can combat that. Love, not hate, is more than a slogan if we put it into action. Volunteer for or donate to a non-profit, support businesses that support you and your causes. Support those who advertise in LGBTQ media. They help that media continue to tell your story.

Use your voice to support the candidates that support you. In this issue of Watermark, we outline the two frontrunners in St. Pete’s mayoral race. On one side you have Rick Kriseman who spoke directly with us and has a long, positive history with the LGBTQ community. On the other side you have Rick Baker, who did not speak to Watermark and whose history with the LGBTQ community is not supportive.

It is vital to elect leadership that will stand with you. Let the last presidential election be a lesson. When you have leadership that is not proactively supportive, it gives power to those who are against you. Progress is made in an environment where a society’s people can thrive. Let’s keep moving St. Pete forward.

Also in this issue we take a look back at the Lavender Scare of the 1950s, as told in the documentary of the same name. The Lavender Scare will be appearing at the Tampa Bay International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in early October. Additionally, we have a chat with local entertainer turned celebrity, Trinity Taylor. In local news we say goodbye to St. Pete Pride Executive Director Eric Skains, we say hello to a new restaurant and bar moving into the old Georgie’s Alibi space, we clebrate Come Out With Pride’s announcement of this year’s theme and we praise the LGBTQ youth receiving $14,000 in scholarships from the Orlando Youth Alliance.

We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.

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