06.13.19 Tampa Bay Bureau Chief’s Desk

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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I was recently asked by a fellow member of the LGBTQ community if my husband is transgender because he dabbles in drag.

While I often point out jokingly that he didn’t don drag until after we were married, something I’ve mentioned here before, I have a tremendous amount of respect for his craft. It’s one thing to be handsome, which he is, but it’s just a work of art to be beautiful on top of that. Which she is.

The only loss that’s stemmed from his decision to hone his talent is that of our guest bedroom, now one of the greater Tampa Bay area’s most well-known wig warehouses. Drag is a gain for him, something he enjoys, so it’s a gain for me because it makes him happy.

What’s more, he and almost every queen I’ve met bring immeasurable value to our community. Throughout our shared LGBTQ experience, they’ve often been the ones on the forefront of our fight for equality—from changing the narrative at Stonewall to changing young hearts and minds with Drag Queen Story Hours here and across the nation.

The person that asked if my husband is transgender didn’t do so with ill intent. They’re someone who knows us rather well and has for quite a long time; someone who loves us as much as we love them, which is quite a bit.

But that’s what struck me about their question. It wasn’t that it was asked—asking questions leads to answers and education is essential in any healthy environment—but that there was concern as they awaited my response. It was as if there would be something wrong with him, our marriage or the world if my answer was yes.

While some of the most fabulous drag queens and folks that I’ve met in general are transgender, my husband isn’t. I wouldn’t love him any less if he was, though, which I only mention because I think we all need to be better as a community about making that crystal clear. The world needs to know that we see our transgender siblings and that we support them; we are them and they are us. No one in our ever-expanding LGBTQ community needs us more.

At least 26 transgender people were murdered in the United States in 2018, at least five of them in Florida and the majority of whom were women of color. While many were targeted simply for being transgender, societal stigma put others at higher risk in other ways. It’s a disturbing trend that shows no sign of slowing in 2019, with at least eight deaths as of Pride Month.

We need to fight for every one of our transgender siblings in the ways that they’ve always fought for us, changing narratives as much as hearts and minds. We need to do so in our personal and professional lives, whenever and wherever we can and to whomever will listen. We must say their names and we must show them that they will not be erased.

It’s that mentality that’s largely shaped Florida’s largest Pride celebration, which this year celebrates its third annual TransPride March and its 17th successful year. St Pete Pride 2019 promises to be its loudest and proudest yet, something we examine at length in our latest issue with local leaders including St Pete Pride board members like TransPride March founder Nathan Bruemmer and entertainers like Star Montrese Love, who this year celebrates 10 years of Miss St Pete Pride. We also discuss 25 years of “Stay (I Missed You)” with LGBTQ ally and singer-songwriter Lisa Loeb, who headlines this year’s SP2 concert.

The city of St. Petersburg proves the sun shines on all in other ways in Tampa Bay news, adding LGBTQ-owned businesses to its small business program. The Plus Project, a new LGBTQ funding resource, also forms as Metro Inclusive Health announces “Stonewall to Pulse: A Community Discussion” and Dining Out for Life raises over $47,000 for EPIC.

In Central Florida news, Dining Out for Life also reveals the fundraiser will benefit new organizations in the area beginning in 2020. The Metropolitan Business Association also opens up about its own Pride.

In Arts and Entertainment, we focus on actor Matt Bomer, chatting with him about his new comedy “Papi Chulo” and projects like DC’s “Doom Patrol.” We also log into Netflix to dish on the streaming service’s new “Tales of the City” era with star Murray Bartlett. Finally, Dr. Steve Yacovelli guides us through the pages of “Pride Leadership,” his new book.

Watermark strives to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue and for those of you joining us in the Sunshine City, have a safe and wonderful St Pete Pride!

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