01.23.19 Central Florida Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Jeremy Williams
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The beginning of a new year is a lot like me sitting down to write this column every other issue. As the day approaches I am filled with so many thoughts and ideas; and then, when it actually comes time to do it, I spend far too much time staring into the void trying to clear out the clutter.

That is why my first New Year’s resolution of 2019 is to be more organized. More organized with my thoughts, more organized with my ideas and more organized with my desk. The stacks of papers, magazines and toys (yes, I have toys on my desk) are a bit overwhelming.

New Year’s resolutions have always perplexed me. Growing up I never understood why people waited until the first day of a new year to try and better themselves. I need to quit smoking or drink less or get to the gym, but it’s only September, why start now? Then I got older and I realized that going into the holiday season was no time to be giving up your vices. The stress of holiday shoppers, family gatherings and the constant “don’t worry, next year will be the year you meet that special someone” from friends is enough to keep a glass of red wine and a smooth Marlboro red fixed to both hands all season long.

Truth be told I quit smoking seven years ago as a New Year’s resolution and since then have given in and smoked only four cigarettes. But I’d be lying if I said at least once a day I didn’t pretend a pen on my desk was a smoke that I take a nice, long drag off of.

For the most part, that resolution stuck because of the only true thing that makes a resolution stick for me, fear. The commercials from the anti-smoking campaign TRUTH caused me to burst into a panic attack anytime I lit up. Well played TRUTH, it worked. Fear is a big motivator for me as I think it probably is for many people.

My other New Year’s resolution, besides being more organized, is to lose weight and get back in shape. This is one I actually started last summer but took a break from during the holiday season for reasons outlined above. This was another resolution spawned by fear. A bi-annual visit to my doctor’s office earlier in the year was a big wake-up call as my checkup showed I was in the danger zone of having high cholesterol, high blood sugar and sleep apnea. All that coupled with the fact that I already have high blood pressure and HIV left me in a state of fear.

Since then I am down 50 lbs. and I am on the road to a healthier me. That journey is what started me on wanting to write the in-depth that is in the current issue. The story titled “What’s up, doc?” began as a conversation with my doctor about all the health screenings, issues and concerns I needed to be aware of, not only because I am approaching 40 years old, but also because of my family health history and because I am a gay man.

In this issue’s in-depth, we spoke with several doctors within Central Florida and Tampa Bay about health issues that carry a higher risk for members of the LGBTQ community. We have included cut-out sections in the story that include conversation starters for you and your doctor at your next check up.

In Central Florida news, Blue Star is beginning 2019 with a search for The Venue’s new home and a married couple has been kicked out of their Apopka home possibly because of anti-trans discrimination.

In Tampa Bay news, Metro Tampa Bay has completed its major renovations at its St. Petersburg location and anti-LGBTQ activists are targeting Pasco County schools.

In state news, Tallahassee is showing who is with us as Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried adds LGBTQ protections to her department and who isn’t as incoming Gov. Ron DeSantis excludes LGBTQ people from his non-discrimination executive order.

Our Arts &Entertainment section showcases comedian Michele Balan, who is in Orlando this month for Queer Queens of Quomedy, and the Lavender Scare-themed “Perfect Arrangement,” playing at freeFall Theatre in St. Petersburg.

Here’s wishing you a healthier, more organized 2019. May the odds be ever in your favor

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