This past weekend officially kicked off (at least for me) the summer season with the release of “Avengers: Infinity War” in theaters. No spoilers, I promise, but at the time of writing this I have seen the film three times and it may be the greatest movie ever made. From here on out until July—along with a few more weekends of blockbuster cinema—we have Fringe, Orlando’s Big Gay Weekend, Pride month and my birthday among the events to look forward to.

Since starting here at Watermark as an account manager for the sales department more than five years ago, I have developed quite a few traditions within the LGBTQ community.

One of them that I enjoy every year is Orlando Fringe. I had never been to Fringe until I started working at Watermark. It was explained to me that it’s like a film festival, but live. They also told me that I could write a review of any show I went to see, making my first story for Watermark a Fringe review. That first year I went out and saw dozens of shows, wrote several reviews and had my first order of cheese curds. I have been the last five years now and every year the tradition continues: shows, reviews, curds. Tradition!

I used to hate the word “tradition” growing up. As a kid I always thought of it as being attached to something my family made me do without having to have a reason to explain why I had to do it.

“Get up here, Jeremy, and play a 14-hour game of Monopoly with your family on New Year’s Eve. It’s tradition.”

“Would you just put that stupid hat on Jeremy and take a picture with Santa Claus? I don’t care if you’re 16 and too old for this, it’s tradition.”

“Jeremy, put on this chocolate-colored tux and go to your high school prom. It’s tradition, and you will hate yourself if you miss it!”

As I have gotten older, I realized traditions—both family and community—are not a way of punishing the youth by making them do things they are “too cool” to do (although as I get older and see my nieces and nephews grow up, I realize the joy of making teenagers embarrass themselves in the name of tradition), but rather a way of remembering and honoring those who have come before us. While eventually they will pass, the memory of them will not as we continue on these rituals they started years ago.

Tradition is something that has been invoked on social media lately as the story of GayDayS, Inc., moving to later in the summer in 2019 was released on WatermarkOnline.com. Many took issue with GayDayS, Inc., saying “a majority of people are not coming in for that Saturday at the Magic Kingdom.” Those words were a slap in the face to traditionalists who remember Gay Day at Disney’s Magic Kingdom as a stand of unity at one of the most family-friendly places at a time when LGBTQ people were being told they could not marry, have children and be a family. It was a stand of visibility to show “regular” families taking in Magic Kingdom on their summer breaks that we are here and we are no different than them. And yes, as I understand it, it was a stand in saving money because the day happened to be right before Disney’s blackout dates kicked in and employees couldn’t get their friends in for free. Disney’s theme parks are expensive, y’all. Tradition!

Only time will tell how this plays out and whether all, or some, of the traditions are affected. But the tradition of Watermark still continues on with the latest issue. Along with a look at the LGBTQ-themed shows of Orlando Fringe and the controversy of GayDayS Inc., within these pages we introduce the first executive director of the One Orlando Alliance in Central Florida news. Over in Tampa Bay, we look at the Big Brothers Big Sisters pursuit of LGBTQ mentors, we preview the 9th annual Harvey Milk Festival and we check in with performer Matthew McGee as he stars in American Stage’s “The Producers.”

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