01.11.18 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I’ve never made a New Year’s resolution—at least that I can remember.It isn’t because I don’t hope for a better year than the last, particularly after a rather polarizing 2017. It’s just something that never really occurs to me, especially now that I have to wrangle my husband for my midnight-mandated “kissy” photo op. He hates pictures of people kissing.

There’s nothing wrong with people making resolutions. It works for some, and that’s wonderful. I try to make every day the best it can be, so an over-arching 365-day look-ahead just doesn’t do it for me.

Besides, if you don’t make a resolution, you can’t be disappointed if or when you don’t fulfill it.

It’s also not because I don’t have high hopes for the New Year. In my new role as Tampa Bay Bureau Chief for Watermark (about which I’m ecstatic every day), I’ve finally found myself writing full-time in 2018. And to top it off, I’m surrounded by a talented team of individuals with a dedication to the LGBTQ community, our allies and the stories we hold dear.

Writing full-time has been a lifelong dream of mine, beginning almost immediately after I stopped writing my name as “4yan” and graduated to “Ryan.” I don’t know why the number four looked so much like an “R” to me as a child, but I do know it remains my favorite number. I imagine that at 33, it will remain that way “4” life.

I’m lucky to have a supportive husband, one who even obliges my photographic demands and the subsequent but inevitable retakes; a fantastic family and group of friends who’ve earned the same title; and two shining examples of why dogs really are a man’s best friend.

On top of all of that, my husband and I just renewed our passes to Walt Disney World, Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War will hit cinemas before too long and it’s rumored that Britney Spears will release her 10th studio album this year. If you’re a hater, leave Britney alone. 2018’s already looking pretty great, resolution or not.

To look forward, we sometimes have to look back. Not long after this issue’s release, our first issue of 2018, Donald Trump will have been president of the United States for an entire year. 365 days of breaking news, often dictated 140 characters at a time, have impacted the LGBTQ community and all those around us in a myriad of ways. In this issue we take a look at some of the highlights—or depending on your viewpoint, the lowlights—and check in with leaders in Tampa Bay and Central Florida about the political landscape of 2018.

In Arts and Entertainment, we speak with wrestler Mike Parrow, who’s been out for several years in Central Florida but recently came out to the world at large. We also check in with St. Petersburg life coach Eric Casaccio, who’s published a manual that he hopes can help change the world.

In Tampa Bay news, we delve into the latest conversations between St. Pete Pride, Florida’s largest LGBT Pride event, and the Grand Central District Association, which represents the area that historically hosted it. Watermark also attended the swearing-in ceremony of Mayor Rick Kriseman and St. Petersburg’s first female-majority city council, and details what some are calling the city’s “year of the woman.”

In Central Florida news, we look ahead to the Hope & Help Center of Central Florida’s annual AIDS Walk, checking in with the organization’s leadership about what’s new and what to expect. We also attended the kick-off party for the re-election of the Florida House of Representative’s Carlos Guillermo Smith, who hopes to continue his public service as “a proud progressive, liberal, feminist, gay, Latino, Democrat.”

In 2018 and in every year before it, Watermark strives to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.

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