Jake Stevens defines a decade at Watermark

By : Rick Claggett
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img_9450-2016headshots_ppOrlando – February 8 marked the 10-year anniversary for Watermark’s art director, Jake Stevens.

Tom Dyer, Watermark’s founder and guiding light, remembers the day he met Stevens. “I’ll never forget Jake’s job interview. He radiated New England, down to the brown corduroy jacket. And he had this wonderful, ornery self-confidence. He wanted the job, and I could tell he would give it his all. That’s exactly what he’s done these past ten years, under four very different editors and two publishers,” said Dyer.

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Marginalized groups join forces to fight the Trump administration’s attacks on minorities

By : Billy Manes
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Orlando – On Jan. 29, amid of flood of hurried information and the confusion that comes along with it, more than 1,000 people of Orlando (and those who love them) convened upon the Orlando International Airport to voice their solidarity for their marginalized populations, LGBTQ and Muslim populations among them. As the gathered crowd was educated about the lines of peaceful protest against the backdrop of Lee Vista’s The Haven Bar – a site offered by the strip-mall’s owner (and former Libertarian Orlando mayoral candidate) Matthew Falconer for gathering – participants were instructed, in typical protest parlance, to not descend to the level of name-calling that has made anti-gay, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant conjecture the focus, an act that was sure to be offered at a high-profile event in one of the busiest travel meccas in the world.

“Do not engage with the opposition,” that was the key point. It will get you nowhere.

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LGBTQ students raise awareness through UCF pageants

By : Anna M. Johnson
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ORLANDO – Haley Zilberberg and Stanley Swindling are two University of Central Florida students that identify as lesbian and gay, respectively. They’re also two UCF students that competed in the Mr. and Miss UCF Scholarship pageant Feb. 3 and 4. Swindling won first runner up and fan favorite and Zilberberg won best talent.

This pageant was the two college seniors’ first ever. They both rehearsed for over four months to compete in the shows, with no guarantee of any prizes.

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University of Central Florida president addresses immigration concerns

By : Anna M. Johnson
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University of Central Florida President John C. Hitt

ORLANDO – University of Central Florida President John C. Hitt sent out a statement to the college community Jan. 30 about President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting entrance to the United States. The order prevents people who hold a passport from or were born in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia from travelling to the U.S.

Hitt’s email addresses the restriction in the context of university officials and students.

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FAIRWINDS Broadway in Orlando 2017-2018 season announced

By : Staff Report
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ORLANDO – The announcement for the 2017-2018 season at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts took place on Feb. 2.

The season consists of nine musicals including The Book of Mormon, Disney’s The Lion King and Rent.

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2017 Watermark WAVE Awards – WAVES FINALIST ROUND

By : Watermark Staff
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Watermark spent the last week sorting through and counting every ballot, and here it is – the FINAL round for the 2017 Watermark WAVE Awards!

Below are links to the FINALISTS for Central Florida and Tampa Bay/Sarasota.

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Women, minorities and the LGBTQ community march in St. Petersburg and Orlando for equality

By : Felicia Roopchand
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Groups in St. Petersburg and Orlando participated in the Women’s March that took place across the nation, and world, on Jan. 21.

The marches began with inspiring speeches which were followed by huge crowds marching for equality. Many brought signs, both witty and smart: a majority in protest of the new President of the United States and his proposed policies.

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Pop survivor Tiffany brings the stories behind the mall tours to the Parliament House

By : Billy Manes
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It’s a bit unnerving speaking with Tiffany (Darwish) on the phone. She represents that peculiar space in the FM lexicon that some might not relate to anymore, though this writer certainly does as he wears his jean jacket and tasseled boots.

Her eponymous record spawned huge hits like “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Could’ve Been” and the odd Beatles cover, “I Saw Him Standing There.” (Go ahead; do the hand motions now.) She notoriously played to screaming girls in mall food courts while fending off the “authenticity” of Debbie Gibson, her media rival. She made red hair happen. She deserves her due.

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Macbeth Studios to host “Local Love Night”

By : Billy Manes
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Up in the loft-like heights of Jim Hobart’s Macbeth Studios downtown, a wall is splashed in a cloud of rainbow colors. Interrupting the dizzying mélange is a large bit of white text. “Orlando Loves,” it reads. Local luminaries from consultant Kelly Cohen – who can flip her hair like Mariah Carey when goaded – to Ted Maines and Jeffrey Miller have been here to show their pride in the little city that could while Hobart skirts around the edges of focus to find just the right shot.

The reason? Hobart is, at heart, a philanthropic photographer. And on Feb. 2, Macbeth Studios will host a “Local Love Night” event to benefit the Zebra Coalition at CityArts Factory from 5-10 p.m. The networking and social party seeks to bring like-minded Orlandoans together with the organizations that need their support.

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Allied and ready: Orlando’s LGBTQ Alliance brings collaboration in a post-Pulse world

By : Billy Manes
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Orlando – “I called Carlos Carbonell on June 12,” Orlando LGBTQ Alliance co-founder and member of the Metropolitan Business Association (and founding chair of the area’s Human Rights Campaign group) Jennifer Foster says. “On June 13, he and I got together, and on that Thursday was our first meeting. Thirty people showed up!”

Carbonell, CEO and founder of Echo: Tech & Strategy Apps in downtown Orlando, remembers the day well.

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Watermark kicks off 2017 Third Thursdays at Winter Park’s Capen House

By : Staff Report
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Watermark kicked off its monthly networking mixers for 2017, Third Thurdays, at the beautiful historic Capen House located on the ground of the Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens. The crowd was not only able to make new business connections but was also able to participate in a raffle that raised money for the museum. Prizes included show tickets for Leslie Jordan, the Enchanted Jungle Party, the coveted City Oasis Orchid, a weekend getaway from Plantation on Crystal River and many more.

Watermark’s Third Thursday Networking mixers are part of the Watermark Gives Back program. Watermark partners up with a current advertiser that will host the mixer and together they raise money for the host’s charity of their choice, often benefitting LGBT organizations or the arts.

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Sandwich Fundraiser for The Dru Project to be held at Pom Pom’s

By : Felicia Roopchand
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Head over to Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria this Valentine’s Day to help raise money for The Dru Project. They will be graciously donating $1 to The Dru Project from every Sweetheart Sandwich sold.

The Dru Project is an LGBTQIA advocacy organization on a mission to spread love across the nation and promote gay-straight alliances. They are a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit in the state of Florida. The organization was created in memorial to Christopher Andrew “Drew” Leinonen and his partner Juan Ramon Guerrero, who were among the 49 killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting.

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