Orlando Youth Alliance gives $14,000 in scholarships

By : Anna M. Johnson
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The Audubon Park Exchange community room, hidden above East End Market, buzzed with conversations ranging from the political climate of Central Florida to the effectiveness of the lighting in a production of Les Miserables. The students leading those talks wouldn’t be able to study politics or theatre without the help of local LGBT group Orlando Youth Alliance.

OYA serves LGBTQ children and adults between the ages of 13 and 24 in their three Central Florida locations. OYA specifically focuses on offering a community with safe spaces for self-expression. They hosted their reception for their six scholarship winners on Wednesday night.

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Savoy Orlando’s Starlite Room gets into the theater game

By : Jeremy Williams
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Savoy has been the LGBTQ bar with a small town feel for more than a decade. In fact, it celebrates 13 years as Orlando’s small town gay bar this month.

In the last few years Savoy has undergone renovations and upgrades to its interior, and while the main bar has maintained its success with cool drinks and hot dancers, the other half has struggled to find its identity. Enter Orlando’s theater god Michael Wanzie.

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Central Florida and Tampa Bay softball leagues celebrate milestone anniversaries this season

By : Steve Blanchard
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For more than two decades, LGBTQs in Central Florida have enjoyed friendship and sportsmanship on the softball field. The area’s two largest leagues are celebrating milestones this fall season.

The Suncoast Softball League in Tampa celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and the Central Florida Softball League will mark its 20th year when the first pitches are thrown out this fall. Besides their incredible growth over the years, both leagues have plenty of reasons to celebrate their respective milestone anniversaries in 2017.

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Come Out With Pride announces 2017 theme

By : Rick Claggett
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Orlando | Come Out With Pride (COWP) announced their 2017 pride theme, #KeepDancingOrlando, in a statement August 15, 2017. The press release states what began as a movement last year in response to the Pulse tragedy will continue to heal and build unity in our community.

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Hope & Help move into new facility, prepare for annual Headdress Ball

By : Natalie Caballero and Rachel Dececco
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ORLANDO | Hope & Help opened up shop in a brand new location Aug. 1, with the launch of their new and improved website to follow shortly, all less than two months before their biggest charity event of the year, the annual Headdress Ball.

The non-profit organization, which opened in 1988, is now located at 707 Mendham Blvd in Orlando, and is Central Florida’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS testing, education and care center.

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Pulse gunman’s wife plans to say she suffered PTSD

By : Wire Report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – The wife of the shooter in the Pulse massacre plans to say she suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder when she goes on trial next year, according to court documents.

Noor Salman intends to present a defense that shows she suffered a mental condition that has a bearing on the issue of guilt, according to the documents filed last week.

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Four LGBTQ Central Florida and Tampa Bay chefs on finding their tribe in the restaurant life

By : Holly V. Kapherr
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The idiom “love is love” became a rallying cry throughout the LGBTQ community since the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in 2015. But for these four gay and lesbian chefs in Orlando, Tampa and St. Petersburg, food is love.

Most of them grew up cooking at the feet of their families. Jeannie Pierola, chef and owner of the Edison Food + Drink Lab in Tampa, learned from her Spanish and Cuban grandmothers. Top Chef Seattle alum and executive chef at St. Pete boîtes BellaBrava and Stillwaters Tavern, Jeffrey Jew, learned from his father and half-Chinese grandfather.

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Central Florida elected officials gather at JOY MCC to stand with the transgender community

By : Jeremy Williams
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(ABOVE: (L-R) Orange County District 5 Commissioner Emily Bonilla, Florida Senator Linda Stewart, Orlando District 5 Commissioner Regina Hill, JOY MCC Senior Pastor Rev. Terri Steed Pierce, Orange County District 3 Commissioner Pete Clarke, Florida House District 49 Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, Orlando District 4 Commissioner Patty Sheehan.)

ORLANDO | Nearly two dozen elected officials are standing in solidarity with the transgender community after President Donald Trump’s tweets last week announcing a ban on trans people serving in the U.S. military.

Eric Rollings, Orange County’s Soil and Water Conservation Chair, spoke from the pulpit at JOY Metropolitan Community Church July 30, reading from a list of Central Florida politicians who stated they unequivocally stand with the LGBTQ community, especially with the transgender community in light of the recent attacks.

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Central Florida’s Hope & Help to relocate, launch new website

By : Rachel Dececco
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Hope & Help announced the grand opening of a new location, along with the launch of their new website, both occurring Aug. 1, less than two months before the annual Headdress Ball.

The beloved non-profit organization, which opened in 1988, will be located at 707 Mendham Blvd in Orlando as it continues as Central Florida’s oldest and largest HIV/AIDS testing, education and care center.

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Orlando LGBTQ icon and former Watermark editor, Billy Manes, dies at 45

By : Staff Report
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Billy Manes

Billy Manes

ORLANDO | Billy Manes, iconic Orlando LGBTQ activist, former longtime columnist for Orlando Weekly and former editor-in-chief of Watermark, died July 21 just after 4 p.m. from a sudden onset of pneumonia. He was 45. He is survived by his husband, Anthony Mauss.

Manes was from Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 1997. He began his career in journalism in the sales department at Orlando Weekly and eventually became a staple in the paper, writing the “B-List,” “Blister” and “Happytown” columns. He also attended Orlando city council meetings and recapped them in the column “Council Watch.”

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Atlanta United fan sparks outrage over Pulse comment days before first game

By : Rachel Dececco
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In the spirit of competitive sports, banter between rival teams is expected, but one Atlanta United fan is sparking outrage over a comment made on a Facebook post.

The comment was screenshot and posted in a tweet by Ruckus, an independent Orlando City supporters club, July 19. The comment read “think of [the upcoming game between Atlanta and Orlando] as Pulse part 2.”

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Judge won’t dismiss count against Pulse gunman’s wife

By : Wire Report
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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) – A federal judge won’t dismiss an obstruction charge against the wife of the man who massacred 49 people at Pulse nightclub.

The judge denied a request from Noor Salman July 18 to dismiss one of the two criminal charges she faces.

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